A flare-up of wrist and elbow joints over the weekend meant that I had a quiet and somewhat introspective time. I got to thinking about some things I want to change about my life and that led me down memory lane to remembering changes I tried to make in the past. Some of these came off with a bang and some just fizzled out with a whimper. It has sometimes felt like I take several steps forward, make some progress and then end up back where I started. How come?
I think there are a couple of issues that create barriers to change. One I’ve written about before (here) is the infamous inner critic – that nagging nattery serpent in the head that hisses its poison. Listen to it too much and you end up believing the carping and criticism and so end up back where you started.
However the other issue is how our beliefs about the way the world works and how we relate to it – our mental models if you will – wield so much power. A mental model in this context includes for example, all the images, assumptions, stories that we carry around in our heads. It is our take on reality.
If when making a change in life, we do not change our mental models to dovetail with and support the change then we will always do what we have always done and receive the same results. Changing our mental models opens up new opportunities and possibilities.
When I’ve struggled to sustain a change I’ve wanted to make in my life I think its because I’ve not recognised this enough. In other words, I’m trying to do something new and different but I’m doing it same old, same old.
For example, I made a decision to spend more time writing. I even set a target of 3 days for the day job and 3 days for writing. I started off well but it’s slipped. I didn’t really think through in detail how this new reality will look, feel and sound; what the true implications are; what I will gain and what I will need to give up. With hindsight I can’t believe I was so dumb. Now I feel frustrated and trapped to some extent by the day job which is encroaching on my writing time.
On the bright side however, writing is a great way of creating an alternative reality. So, over the weekend I did just that. I’ve written it all down and by describing it in detail somehow I’ve breathed life into it. I plan to record my successes however small and in that way begin to build up a body of evidence that shows me I can live in this new reality and so helps sustain the change.
The beauty of creating an alternative reality is that it is in fact only one of a myriad possibilities. The way things are at the moment is not the only way life could be. As the saying goes – I may not be able to direct the winds but I can adjust my sails…as often as I want.