In the context of self-awareness, the will to change can allude to 1) a major life change, such as a change of career, relationship, or lifestyle; 2) a change to a more effective approach to our work, relationships, or community; or 3) a change in our self-image and attitude toward others. Since these variations are intricately linked, we may end up making changes in all three categories.
Author of Wired for Authenticity Henna Inam wrote, ”Being true to ourselves is about having courage to define our own version of what it is to have a successful life.” Further, she believes that “authentic individuals make choices for the greater good” in responding to ever changing circumstances.
When you’re contemplating a change that you believe will improve your life because it reflects your real values, be prepared to experience some change in your relationships. Family members, friends, or even the most casual acquaintances may not readily understand or support your new direction. That’s OK. Don’t let it discourage you. The important thing to remember is that while you can’t control others, you’re in control of how you respond to their comments or criticism. You don’t need to be defensive or get angry at their lack of apparent interest or empathy. Remember you’re not taking action to gain approval from anyone but you. As long as you’re not deliberately hurting someone with your behavior, you have a right to ownership of your decisions.
You’ll have a better chance of fulfilling your commitment toward a goal if the changes required to meet that goal are based on something that you can get excited about for an extended length of time. If you’re going to be devoting all your time and energy in something, you want it to be something you love, enjoy, and value. It will be a pleasure to pursue your objective with passion and enthusiasm. Otherwise, it could be extremely difficult to maintain your dedication, especially when the going gets tough.
Challenge is another motivating factor in making and sustaining positive change. It’s been said, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” Although you might start with small steps in your first new endeavor, there’s no point continuing to make easy choices to avoid possible failure. Without challenge you can become bored rather quickly. Challenge helps to build momentum in your chosen direction.
Alan Cohen wrote, “It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” While we may feel alone in making any kind of change that profoundly affects our lives, if we focus on the result that meets our real desires and do what it takes to achieve it, we discover it’s more than worth any temporary discomfort.
Besides, there’s great satisfaction in knowing we’re beginning an adventure that will make us stronger, more resilient, and ready to adapt to future changes that are bound to occur. In the words of actress Ruth Gordon, “Courage is like a muscle; it is strengthened by use.
Mary Kathryn “M.K.” Jones