The best and worst of Change : The Best of You

Change is positive, change is good. Change is what allows us to grow, to expand our horizons, to seek out new opportunities, to boldly go where no man has gone before (for all the Star Trek fans out there).

All true. Without change we would turn inwards and wither on the vine. And yet, every time we change we leave a little something behind. We turn our backs on a part of what made us who we are. Every change, no matter how desired, requires us to give something up.

Every change requires sacrifice.

Also, every change, no matter how well planned and executed, will never be implemented with the ease or simplicity it should. No matter how much we might crave the change we bring upon ourselves, it never seems to work out quite as effortlessly or as smoothly as we’d imagined. Fitting new into old always requires more adjustment than it ought, whatever the change we are bringing about.

This truism applies to practical changes – for example, redecorating. If it’s been a few years, then the question is not where to start, but where to stop. If you just paint the walls then the ceiling will look really old; start with the trim and every door needs painting; move a picture and there are a thousand holes to fill; paint one room and every other looks shabby.

Changing the car? Well who doesn’t love a new car? But is this one bigger or smaller than the last? How well does it fit the garage? You just can’t seem to find that perfect adjustment for the seat and wheel. That little nook you kept your phone isn’t there in the new car. Your one-sweep entry into the garage is jerky and awkward, backwards and forwards as you learn the new dimensions, fearful of scratching that nice new paint.

It’s the same whatever the change we are seeking to make.

Fitting in any new routine, however much it is welcome and desired, however well you think you’ve planned and prepared for the change, means adjusting other aspects of life you never imagined.

Just got a new job? Good for you. That extra money will certainly come in handy. But did you figure in the impact that ‘50% travel requirement’ will have on your life? What sounded so easy at interview now means you must give up your weekly darts/knitting/yoga class. You really love the new downtown location, close to the bars and restaurants and all the nightlife, and whilst it may be fun, vibrant and modern it also now adds time to your commute,  meaning every other schedule in the house must be adjusted – you may even need a second car, maybe additional childcare. Promoted in the same office? At least you know the team. But that promotion will change your relationships at work, as well as impacting on home and family life.

I like the analogy of new shoes to illustrate the effect of a poorly implemented change. You may love the shoes. They are so stylish and sophisticated. They make you feel confident and strong. But if that shoe rubs your heel you better find a way to break them in pretty quickly. Otherwise you will get a blister which will eventually lead to that pair of shoes going to goodwill, no matter how beautiful or expensive they were.

So many changes are wonderful and totally awesome – new job, promotion, career change, marriage, kids arriving, kids moving out, moving homes, freedom 55 –  all things many of us strive for and exert effort to achieve. There are so many life-enriching opportunities that will make us better human beings and add to the enhancement of society at large. But each and every one requires sacrifices you would never have dreamed possible.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction; energy is neither created nor destroyed, just transformed.

My own story is no different. A decade ago we quit the UK to reinvent ourselves in Canada. We planned the transition with military precision and the move went well. And then we rubbed up against the little details. We had squeezed ourselves into some new and unfamiliar shoes, and now there’s a pebble inside.

We were forcing our old UK habits into new Canadian ones, incredulous that Canadians had never heard of this or that British staple, unable to joke about childhood memories from a different culture, craving the taste of decent beer or the TV shows we might have loathed but are suddenly quaint and comforting. Over the years those sharp English corners have been rounded with the sandpaper of time, until now our new life fits us almost as well as the old. Almost. And the transition has been different for each member of the family, for each sees the world through their own filter.

So in summary:

Change is tough. Change is wearing, frustrating and debilitating, even when we yearn for the change and pursue it with a passion. Changes that are forced on us are doubly, triply challenging.

Every single change we make in our lives means giving up something, and may also mean someone else giving up something also. Change requires sacrifice, sometimes a sacrifice we never imagined or desired.

Yet Change is essential to our life, our happiness, our very existence. So stick with it.

Sail out of the safe harbour, sail out of sight of land. Hold the tiller through the hurricane force winds of change and you will reach calmer waters. And the new you, the New World you will discover on the other side, will be better, stronger, fuller.

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