Why Change?

A LOT of us spend a significant chunk of our time, money, and brain power on wishing for change. The self-help industry is a multi-million dollar industry. We are obsessed with wanting to be better. We want to be more interesting, eat healthier, have better clothes and houses, lose weight, be less anxious, feel more confident, move up in our jobs, make more money, and ultimately reach for our dreams. 

On one hand we consistently hear how we should want to be better, and on the other we are told to believe in ourselves, follow our hearts, and love who we are. Be original but also fit in. Well, which is it? When should we want to change ourselves, and when should we be OK with who we are? Sound familiar? 

If it does, I want you to stop what you’re doing right now. 

Think about one change you want to make. Imagine it. Now, think about why you want to change it.

Seriously.

Why do you want the change?

The answer I hear is usually some version of “because I’ll be better” or “I will feel happier” or “people will like me more.”  Seems pretty straightforward.

Let’s poke at this with a coaching stick. 

These thoughts are rampant throughout the Millennial mindset. It’s one of the biggest reasons we struggle so much in our lives. We are taught that we should work hard and sacrifice to be better, and that being better will bring us happiness. But, what is considered “better” by one person is not necessarily the same as another person. What exactly makes us better? Who determines what is better? Where is “better” clearly defined? Is there a test? 

Even putting all that aside, there is still one GLARING problem with this idea of “better.” It suggests there is something right now, inside of us, or around us, that isn’t good enough as it is. Something that needs to be fixed. Something that makes us less valuable in the world.

Again I ask; who decided this and where is the official definition of good enough

For most of us, when we dig deep and really sift through our reasons, it comes down to the same thing every time. We want to change because we think we will feel better. But how will we feel better? What will be different?

We want approval from the world, and/or permission to approve of ourselves, and we think changing will get us that approval. We think approval will make us feel better. We want others to tell us we are OK, so that we can then allow ourselves feel OK. We think we aren’t allowed to feel better about ourselves until we get someone else’s permission.

Consider that last sentence again.

We want to change so we can get permission to feel better from other people. We want likes, hearts, thumb ups, and reassurance that we’re worthy. We think that’s the only way we feel better. We think feeling better isn’t really up to us, but rather, up to everyone else. We want to change to fit into whatever shape they have decided is best for us. We think other people are already happier, because they have the things we think we should also have.

Just take a moment.

Think of the things you feel like you SHOULD be doing. Getting a college degree, losing weight, finding a husband, buying a house, being smarter, prettier, wealthier…

Really. Dig. In.

Do you really want these things? Or do you want them because you’ve been told your entire life that these things are what should make you happy, and you can’t be happy without them? Because, honestly, there are millions of people who have some or all of them, and are completely miserable. 

Do you want to lose weight because you are so proud of who your body, so confident in yourself, that you want to love your body even more by feeding it in a healthier way?

OR-

Do you want to lose weight because you feel ashamed of your appearance, hate your body, and you feel less worthy of positive attention because of it? Do you want other people to react certain way and you think they would, probably, if you looked different?

There’s an easy way to tell. 

Imagine changing whatever it is you want to change. Picture it. Dream of it. Fantasize about success! You lost the weight. Got the job. Changed your nose. Now, imagine no one else will ever know. You lose 50 lbs but no one can see it except you. You buy a new car, and no one will ever know. You graduate with a degree, but it will always be a secret. Forever.

If no one knew about the change except you, would you still want it? Probably not. If that’s the case, then it isn’t something you actually want for yourself. It’s not something that satisfies a need inside of you. It’s something external that doesn’t serve you in any real way, and leaves you less satisfied in the long run.

Cut through the noise of what you think you SHOULD do so other people will approve. It never works. You will never feel better. People will never give you enough approval to fill your need. Trying to fit ourselves into something that gets approval from the world is like trying to train a cat. People are fickle, impatient, easily distracted, and more interested in their own lives. It’s a losing battle that makes us feel less worthy every time we try to play.

Most of us spend our lives working toward things we should want, not what we actually want. Figuring out what we truly want for ourselves is fundamental to a fulfilling life, yet some of us never even ask the question. If you truly want something for yourself, it doesn’t matter if anyone else knows or approves. You’re doing it because you want to and that’s that. False goals make us feel bad about ourselves. They create shame, despair, and jealousy. They do not motivate growth. They stunt us into stalling and eventually giving up. True goals come from self-love. They cultivate joy, appreciation, and resilience. They motivate us to keep moving even when we make mistakes or face challenges. They make us stronger, happier, and improve our experience.

So. Millennials. Is what you want truly yours? Take some time to figure this out. Your growth belongs to you. No one else. If you feel disconnected from your life and cannot find the joy in living, it is likely because none of the things you are working toward are true goals. They are false, and leaving you hollow and depleted.

Sometimes, we end up with the same goal, but from a completely different place. I finally lost weight when I decided I wasn’t going to lose it for other people. I shifted from wanting to please everyone else by apologizing for my body, to simply wanting to hang out with myself and explore what I actually enjoyed. I listened to myself. I didn’t need to lose weight to be better. I wanted to lose weight because I found absolute joy in being outside, backpacking, rock climbing, and hiking, and these things filled me in a way people pleasing never did. I wanted it for me. It became a true goal for my own growth, not a false goal for the world to approve of. It became mine. It made me happy to think about, instead of ashamed and embarrassed.

The more I followed my own true goals the less I needed the world to approve of me. My life opened up before me like it had been waiting this whole time.

So, to answer our original blog question… why change? When is wanting to change a good thing? When should you change?

Simple. When it’s 100% because you want to. Serve your life. Serve your needs. Continue to grow, yes, but always in the way you choose because it pleases you. Doing so creates a calm sense of purpose that is consistent, stable, and motivating. Otherwise we become neurotic, anxious piles of scattered thoughts that are needy for outside assurances. We abandon goals for the next quick fix, rather than investing in long-term happiness. Who am I deciding to be in this world, not as others define me, but as I define myself? Not someone’s wife, mother, daughter, or whatever job I perform. Those are all outside of me. 

What do you want? Who are you becoming? If you cannot answer these questions, then your goals are likely not your own. Knowing what makes you happy is a result of knowing who you are, and ladies, that is the most important question we can ever ask ourselves.

Why Change? was last modified: May 3rd, 2020 by practicalcoach_y7p8ax

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