Do You Really Need to Change or Are You Just a Change Junkie?
Things do not change; we change. – Henry David Thoreau
I used to think that I lacked patience and that I got bored easily.
I would live in the future, always thinking about “What next?” If I wanted to get anything done today or tomorrow, I needed to have several months from now in my mind. That future would change a dozen times before I arrived, but it hung there like a carrot enticing me to move forward.
Generally after two years of doing the same thing, I’d get bored and radically change the future and start moving towards the new goal, until that too got old and I created a new future to chase after. Whether it was a new job, totally rearranging of the house, a new relationship (or ending an existing one) – or all of them at once – even when I seemed to have a stable life back in Toronto, I was always changing something.
And there’s a part of me feeling that way right now. I’ve been living in the Spanish Basque Country for two years now, working on my business and writing fiction.
And I’m bored.
I think about taking off to Valencia or maybe Italy and starting fresh.
I’m not actually bored. The boredom is a habit and a part of a pattern. You see, things are new and exciting for a while but then suddenly to achieve dreams I’m suddenly faced with work – with a lot of hard work.
And I don’t like to work.
Much better to change direction, find something new and take off (sometimes literally).
Sticking around means finishing things and I’ve never been much of a finisher.
Funny thing is this time I don’t actually want to leave or to start anything new. It’s just habit pushing my buttons, telling me it’s time to feel bored and time to move on.
This time, I’m doing my best to ignore the alarms the button pushing sets off. This time, I want to stick it out to the end.
So what’s changed? What happened within me that allowed me to choose to stick around and commit to fulfilling my dreams instead of delving into something new?
I’d like to say that love changed me – that meeting and falling in love with my boyfriend has given me a stability I never had before, but it wouldn’t be true. My run-away feelings include ditching him – not because I don’t love him (I totally adore him!) but because we’ve been in this relationship for over two years and it’s not new and exciting any more and never will be again.
I’d like to say that I don’t want to change because I’ve found my passion and don’t need to change, but that wouldn’t be true either. I’ve known that writing is my passion for over twenty-five years and I am very good at ignoring it when I feel like it.
I can’t say that I’ve “grown up” either because according to most definitions of being a grownup (property ownership, income levels, marriage, and children) I’m still a totally irresponsible teenager.
So what is it then? Why am I sticking around and seeing things through?
It’s three things actually:
- I’ve discovered I can finish things.
- I’ve learned to find happiness from within.
- I’m tired of changing for no good reason.
In November 2006, I started a novel and finished the first draft. By October 2007, I had it edited completely and it’s now doing the rounds of agents. I might have thought it a fluke but last month I finished the draft of my second novel and have started the draft of my third novel while I let the second one sit for a bit before editing it. In that time I’ve also had two short stories published.
Also in December last year I took up running and within two months was capable of doing 10km. My goal was to run 20km by November of this year and despite a break of three months due to my allergies, I’m going to reach that goal.
By accomplishing these goals I’ve realized that I can finish things. And that finishing can be just as exciting as starting. In fact I now get more excited towards the end of a project than at the beginning, which is a real shift in perspective for me and helps get me through the tough middle part.
I used to be bad at hanging my happiness on others. I’d focus on one person in my life and hand them the responsibility for my happiness. It meant a lot of stress for both of us and because of that I lost some good friendships over the years.
Instead, I’ve learned to find happiness from within and so my relationships are stronger and not under constant stress. I don’t overwhelm people and I don’t suddenly want to run away because the other person refuses to be responsible for my happiness any longer.
With my happiness coming from within, I don’t need the constant thrill of new things to keep me excited about life. I’m excited about life wherever I am.
No More Change for Change’s Sake
I used to change because I felt that fulfilling my dreams was too much work, and yet I’ve come to learn that it takes a lot more work to change and start over than to stick it out.
I’m not talking about settling for your situation no matter what it is. If you’re stuck in a rut, then yes make the effort to change because the work is worthwhile.
When I would make drastic changes in my life, it was a way to avoid the real work that I wanted to follow but felt too lazy to do so. Now that I’ve learned to be happy and learned to finish things, continuing on my current journey to fulfill my dreams doesn’t seem that much effort. It actually looks like a whole lot of fun!
And when I look at what it would mean to make a big change, all I see is a whole lot of pointless work as well as mental and emotional clutter that will only distract me from the things I love doing.
While I’m all for change (and my Someday Syndrome blog is all about helping people make big changes in their lives), sometimes change isn’t what we need. Sometimes we need to put the change aside and have a little patience with our current situations, seeing through to fruition the plans we put into place a while back.
So, where does your desire for change lie? Is it something that will lead you towards your dreams or are you using change to hide from the work your dreams really require?