What Do You Want to Change in 2014?

I know I've sung the anti-praises of New Year's resolutions, but yes, I am a person (GASP), so yes, I like a fresh start. And who doesn't! Guys, remember new notebook day at school? Or "I just bought a new planner in June, so suck it everyone" day last June? Can we talk about getting the car washed? Fresh start! New chapter! The belief my car somehow will never be dirty again!

Well, at some point cars get dirty, and notebooks get old, and I begin to hate my planner because it isn't "neat enough" come July. (But that is between me and my strange obsession with perfect printing which began in grade two, so I'm hopeless and it's the way I live my life, so let's move on.) And ultimately, who cares? Our lives aren't worse or better for any of those things — we ignore, or adjust, and keep on keeping on. But then there are the big things. The "I'm in a job I hate" or "I am absolutely pursuing the wrong guys" or "everything about my life is in shambles what do I have left" things, which make a messy planner look like a cake walk. (Because it is.) So we try and fix and replace what we hope will change the big stuff. ("If I get a new notebook, I'll take my to-do list seriously!" And you will! For about two weeks.)

So it's about this: addressing what you want to change right off the bat and just dealing with it. Yes, absolutely, it is the worst. It is in no way glamorous or fun or the stuff of movie montages. It is cold, and hard, and usually involves no one but yourself and reality. Honestly, it's gross. And you and I both know that because we've spent way too much time buying books and cleaning cars and re-folding the stuff in our underwear drawers. But no more: life changes are like work you've been putting off. You'll do it and then it's done. (And then you'll be like, "Oh yeah, I totally knew I should've quit smoking a few months ago, but yeah, shut up — I quit, okay?") So start with these:

1. What do you want to change?
And not "resolution" change — what do you actually want to change? Say the thing, then decide that's the thing you're going to change. Step one. That's it. Start there.

2. Why do you want to change it?
See, now a lot of us have got caught up in "if I change this, this other thing will happen" or "if I change this, this guy will like me" or "if I change this, I will be cast in the Titanic remake I've written in my mind." (I won't tell you which one I change for — but I'll give you a hint: it's absolutely the last one.) And that's normal! Guys, we all have one thousand thoughts going through our heads at the same time about 49242841 times a day. But here's the thing: if that dude doesn't like you now, he's not worth your time, end of story. If you're changing for anybody but yourself, it might be more about changing your mindset: a.k.a. you deserve to be liked/loved for who you are, and anyone who has an issue with that can escort themselves out of your life. 

However, if you're changing because of something self-destructive, and/or genuinely need/want/hope to get your life together/improve things because damn it, you deserve it, that's another story. That's when you move into step three with gusto.

3. How are you going to change it?
Alright, so spoiler alert: turns out you do NOT change your life by just declaring you plan on changing. (Remember that episode of The Office when Michael declares bankruptcy? We cannot be Michael Scott, because just saying "bankruptcy!!!" doesn't do much.) But you CAN make changes by taking a page from Home Alone: Kevin wanted Harry and Marv out of his house, so he came up with a plan to accomodate that. Basically, life is like Home Alone: you look at the situation, you assess the situation, then you place (proverbial) feather traps and paint cans to change the course of, well, everything. Or: you look at what you want you want to change, and say, "this is how I need to change it." 

4. Be patient
Here's a fact: nothing changes overnight, and frankly, I think that's some serious bullshit. But ultimately, it doesn't matter what I think. What matters is re-organizing and re-structuring things enough that you can ultimately start living in a different way — and that doesn't happen in only a few hours. Most of the things we need to change are habits we've taken years to perfect, so take it one day at a time. Why? Because that's a realistic approach. Also: it's reasonable approach. You've got to re-learn behaviours, eliminate any shitty things or people (hey — sometimes it has to be done), and start working with these things in mind. 

If it seems daunting, that's because it is — but most of the best things usually are. (Adulthood being the main thing that comes to mind.) But in the words of Ice Cube, you can do it (put your back into it). Just remember you don't need January 1st as a reason to make it happen.

Tags: changing life, life changes, making changes, psych, resolutions, Self-help

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