It's time for a change

Making a Change for the Better

The realization last week that I need to accept my neighbor’s inconsiderate actions was pivotal. But just what do I do with that? As Goethe said, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” Knowing that I need to accept his poor actions as truth, to release the anger that is hurting me, and to embrace strong boundaries are just mental exercises. These are knowledge but not change. To go from knowing to applying, we need willingness and action.

If you're reading this it's time for change.
Photo by hay s on Unsplash

Willingness

We can know that eating a more vegetable-filled diet is good for us, but the willingness to forgo a juicy burger for a handful of carrots may not be there. Knowing what is good for us is not enough. We have to be willing to act differently. Oxford Languages defines willingness as “the quality or state of being prepared to do something; readiness.” Synonyms are readiness, disposition, inclination, wish, desire, eagerness, and enthusiasm. That is a powerful list. How many times do you know something is good for you, but you lack the readiness, disposition, or inclination to act? When do you go into a new project begrudgingly instead of with eagerness and enthusiasm? Before we can act and make real changes, we need to have the willingness to act.

If there are changes you want to make in your life but you are not moving forward, explore your willingness first. What do you fear will happen if you make a change? Will you lose something? Will you feel unsafe? Will others mock or leave you? Are you just uncomfortable in the newness of it? Are you more comfortable with the devil you know? After looking at your fear, look at the rewards. What do you gain through the change? How would your life’s experience improve? Is the reward worth the effort and risk?

Take your time exploring your lack of motivation and willingness. Don’t gloss over it. If you don’t spend the time getting buy-in from yourself, you will never move forward or stick with your new way of being.

Action

Now it is time to take it to the streets. Making a mental change of attitude and commitment means nothing without action. What steps can you take to move forward into the new? Stay away from all-or-nothing thinking. There is no need to make major drastic changes all at once. What is the smallest most comfortable step you can take in the right direction? What is that one thing you can do that is contrary action to what you were doing before? These little tangible steps lead up to the major change you are looking for.

In my case, I realized that my obsession with the inconsideration happening next door was taking away my joy. A major change could have been for me to move. That was not necessary. What I started with was noticing I was allowing myself to be disturbed by his actions, even when he was not around. I became ready and willing to release my obsessive thinking about the injustice when it was not happening and then I took action. The first easy action I took was counting. On the first day, I counted how many times my mind replayed the story of injustice. This did two things. First, it stopped me from feeding or fighting the story; all I had was objective awareness. Doing this took me out of the emotion of the story. Secondly, it gave me something tangible to work on. Sadly, that first day I disturbed myself over thirty times with my story of injustice. The second day that number was just over ten. By the third day it was less than five. My circumstances have not changed, I still have an annoying neighbor living next door, but my experience has improved immensely because I have changed my actions and behaviors.

What do you want to change in your life? Do you have the deep-down inclination and true desire to make the change? What is a small tangible step you can take today?

Wanting versus Willing

Throughout my life I have studied, analyzed, and comprehended. I expressed theories and best practices. I feel I have a good understanding of how to live the best life. Thinking, feeling, and believing are great. But none of those make me experience the best life, until I act. Taking action is a theme for me this year. I have written about how action can take us out of worry, and I have shared tangible steps to help someone take action. In this article I want to explore the step before action, willingness.

How many times do we want something, desire something different in our life but we are unwilling to do anything about it? We think it is too hard. We think we can not obtain it. We know it is good for us, but we stubbornly or fearfully don’t want to change. Wanting to change is not the same as willing to change.

Let’s go to Merriam-Webster to learn the difference. To want is defined as desire. Desire is an emotion, not an action. Willing is an action. Willing means “done, borne, or accepted by choice or without reluctance.” Willingness is a strong confident unwavering action.

Our want or desire is good because it defines for us the change we want in our life. If we don’t know where we want to go, we will never get there. However, the best visions and plans do not ensure we reach our goal if we never take any steps toward completing them. Here are a few stumbling blocks that may hinder us from moving from wanting to willing.

Overwhelm

A common reason we don’t move forward is that our goals seem insurmountable. Maybe we have so much on our plate already that we can’t imagine adding one more thing. Maybe we know what we need to do but the amount of time and effort needed is discouraging. Some of us shut down before we get started. We dream and imagine, but we are not willing to put on our big girl pants and make those first steps. It all seems like too much.

Worth

My usual stumbling block is feeling unworthy. I want better but I don’t believe I deserve better. Maybe I say others are worse off than I am, how can I be so greedy as to want more. Maybe I have resigned myself to a position of less-than and don’t believe I deserve to be happy. Being stuck in unworthiness can make our desires a fantasy we never give ourselves permission to explore.

Fear

Fear is usually the base culprit of our inability to move forward. We may be afraid we can’t reach our goal and will be disappointed. We may be afraid that our goal is not the right choice for us.  We may be afraid we will reach our goal and there will be backlash from others if we do succeed. Fear comes in many forms and no matter how it shows up, it can be paralyzing.

Make the Switch

How can one flip the switch from wanting to willing?  The answer is by removing all of the dishonest beliefs that are holding us back. Look at the excuse keeping you from willingness. Is it overwhelm, unworthiness, or fear? Is it real or imagined? If it is real, can you solve or address it? If it is imagined, which it usually is, stop feeding it. Stop replaying the what-ifs. Stop telling yourself again and again how this is insurmountable. Next, build proof that the story you are telling yourself is false. By listing tangible examples about how our dishonest beliefs are dishonest, it makes it easier to be released from their grasp.

What do you want next in your life? If you are stuck in wanting but not willing, break down the lies you are telling yourself and use the truth as building blocks to your willingness and eventual action.