Most humans are creatures of habit. We find what ‘works’ (or, at least, what we can live with), and then stick to it – until we can’t any longer. Most of the time we avoid voluntary change; the kind of change that takes our conscious intention and attention, and often rocks the boat of ‘good enough’. We avoid it so much that we will often find nearly any excuse to put it off in order to maintain what is familiar to us.
Sometimes it’s smart to take our time determining whether or not something is right for us, but the truth is, breaking away from the comfort of the familiar in order to change a piece of furniture, learn a new skill, or make a shift in our life is intimidating. We put off even beginning these things because they rock the boat of our state of comfort – even if what is comfortable isn’t really what we want.
We understand comfort. We look forward to it. We seek excuses not to break from it. However, inside all of us, I firmly believe that we are actually deeply satisfied and fulfilled by accomplishing the tasks of our lives, and by shifting towards what is more aligned with who we are and what we most want. So, what if instead of (unconsciously) looking for excuses not to change, we (consciously) looked for excuses that push us towards change?
Letting Happenstance Be Helpful
What initially introduced this question was my age-old vow to switch out my living-room couch. Although there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. However, every time I consider getting rid of it, something in my life finds a way to deter or distract me. I tell myself: it’s a heavy couch, the kids love climbing all over it, it’s been with us since we’ve moved in, etc. Blah, blah, blah…
By creating reasons to push off my tasks, I don’t allow the possibility for things to be helpful. Imagining that we need to know all the steps and execute them all alone, before ever taking just the very first step, is what keeps us from taking that step – which might just be asking a friend where they got their couch! Once we take even the smallest first step, help and inspiration almost always begin to show up in response.
By denying ourselves the first step to our growth, we become complacent in our stagnation. We have an obligation to ourselves to make active progress on the goals that are dear to our hearts. Although the stars may not align perfectly when we start, when we make conscious effort towards that which we are committed to, amazing things happen.
What is trying to lift you up?
Recently I was scrolling through Instagram, and I found that a woman I knew from high school was giving away a beautiful couch. I took it as a sign to take the first step and reached out to her. As life always does, hurdles started to creep in. Because the couch was taking up so much of her space, she needed it cleared that weekend—a weekend that I was going to be out of town. Normally, I would have just said “oh well” and hoped for the best when I got back. However, I made it a point to finish a goal that I had set for myself for so long. I responded by asking if an early morning time would work – and it did!
Then, the next hurdle arose. How was I going to get the couch from her house to mine on such short notice? Luckily for me, a mutual friend of ours saw that I was interested and offered their truck. With that response, I let that moment become helpful to me. It occurred to me that we don’t allow signs in our life to push us in the right direction when we don’t take the first step.
The last hurdle was how I was going to move the couch myself. Sometimes we can feel discouraged to ask for help because we don’t want to burden the people around us. However, there’s no shame in asking for help—especially coming from a place of sincerity. I worked out a time with my ex-husband to help me move my new couch in and the old couch out. He had no obligation to help, and I would have understood if he responded with, “not my problem.” It would have been very easy for me to look at my dilemma and approach it through the lens of entitlement. It’s no one’s responsibility to help me, and I recognize how fortunate I am to have this support in my life.
The Albino Peacock
So many individual decisions that were out of my realm of prediction came together to help me complete this small goal I had set for myself. Was it a coincidence that it all happened after I decided to take the first step? Possibly. However, all of these different facets of my life, large and small, came together in ways that I never would have guessed unless I had taken that first step.
When I was returning my friend’s truck, I was excited to see a peacock on her roof. I paused, and realized there were actually five! As they walked across to the other side, I followed, walking around the side of her house and eventually rounding the corner to an amazing sight. For the first time in years, apparently, an albino peacock made a grand entrance and gave me a much-needed sign that there is beauty in the unknown.
The unknown space that removes us from our familiar lives has risk, but it also gives us encouragement—we just need to be willing to take the small steps that will lead us on the way.
For a more in-depth explanation of what I’ve written here, feel free to watch my video here.