We’ve all watched television shows, read articles and books telling us how to make changes in our lives. Bookstore shelves are filled with self-help books that promise “the answer” to whatever problem we have. Large sections are dedicated to the best and latest diet program anyone would need. Occasionally we hear about someone who started and finished college in their 80’s or began an exercise program that led them to the Senior Olympics. It’s not too newsworthy however for a publication to write about Jim or Jane who veered off the path they were on to make a positive change in their personal life’s direction.
Haven’t read anything about the woman or man, for that matter, who used every ounce of strength and courage to walk through the fear of leaving an abuse marriage and start a new life. Haven’t read about the person who never thought they were smart enough to go to college but walked towards the dream of a degree and teaching children at a time in life that shocked family and friends. And then there is the person who retired from a job, happy to never set an alarm clock for work, who was suddenly faced with so much time on their hands unconscious overeating or drinking started to fill the hours in a day. Okay, I may have made up the scenarios and exaggerated a little, but I’d put money on it that they are happening every day to women and men in cities around our country.
Our Birth Certificate Isn’t A Dictator. Regardless of age, taking positive, healthy actions no matter how difficult the task, is the first step towards a fulfilled, contented life. Whatever dream or goal that swirls around in the mind can be worked towards. The year on our birth certificate tells us how many candles are needed on a cake not whether we can or can’t take a step forward.
Do I believe it is possible to make a change, move towards an impossible dream, a fantasy or a goal? Of course I believe it. I also know it takes courage and faith in the unknown to do it. I also know that no matter how much we want to do something, make a change, we have to take action steps. No one can do it for us. If there are two people with similar histories thinking about making the same “change”, why does one take an action while the other stands still?
There were a number of times in my life where it was possible to make a turn and walk down a different path. Sometimes I made the turn, sometimes I didn’t. Do we have a built in yield sign that allows for a small divergence from the safety of our path as long as we remain on solid ground? Personally, my yield sign allows me time to mediate, journal, share with confidants and then make a decision about a change in direction.
The Power of Excuses & Rationalizations. At some point in time, many women and men erect a stop sign in place of a yield sign. The sign doesn’t allow for any deviation from their tried and true path regardless of the terrain. I’ve named it the soggy potato chip theory – a soggy potato chip is still better than no potato chip. Even when someone voices the desire to try something new or make a big change, logical excuses and rationalizations are given to cover up the real reasons they don’t even know about.
Do you have a personal stop sign? The sign may not necessarily be octagonal with the words STOP, it may be square or round with the word FEAR. Does something stop you from doing something different? It doesn’t have to be what someone else would consider big or major. It could be going to dinner or a movie without a friend for company when you’ve never done it before.
All the answers we ever need are within. No one else can access them for us. As an advocate of journaling, it’s always my first suggestion to anyone who wants to explore a yield or stop sign issue. All that’s needed to start a journaling practice is an open mind knowing there is no right or wrong way to do it. And, there are no journal police judging what’s on the paper. The physical, emotional and spiritual benefits and on-going rewards are beyond one’s wildest dreams.