Yesterday I virtually watched several friends complete the Marine Corps Marathon. Their times ranged from 3:51 to over 6 hours. Some were veterans. Some first timers. And others, somewhere in the middle. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM posted on social media about the pride they felt crossing that finish line. And for each person – that moment started with a decision to try.
Over the past six months I have learned three things about change.
- It happens when WE decide to change. At some point the spark is lit and we decide that there is something that we want very, badly. A medal. A new home. A different way of living. It can happen in a split second, but that little fire is what makes the new dream a reality. For me, whenever I get lost, I bring myself back to that moment and it makes the process of change something I CAN do.
- It is very, very painful. Even good change is painful. Because it means leaving behind something or someone or somewhere we knew and were comfortable with/in/about. I have never made a major change in my life and not felt some level of angst about it. That messy part: the part where you can still see behind you, but cannot see in front of you, that is when the going back happens… We give up on the diet. Or we say “a marathon is just too long”. Or we go back to the bad relationship. Or we pick up the credit card or the drink or the cigarette. We either live through the pain or we stop the growth – it’s that hard and that easy.
- It requires a different kind of bravery. For most of us, the change doesn’t come with banners and celebrations and TV appearances. Sometimes people don’t understand or even want us to change. Or they have wanted us to change a behavior for so long, and we have failed over and over and over, that they (fairly) don’t believe the change is real. So it has to be real FOR US. And we need to be gentle and patient and kind with ourselves. WE have to know that the end result is something we want and are going to be proud of – regardless of what others may think or feel.
But change and achievement and growth are all incredible things. And the world changes regardless of what we want to do at that very moment. RIGHT NOW your cells are changing, your children are growing, and the earth is speeding around the sun. Even if you stay right where you are, nothing will ever be the same. YOU will never be the same person that you are at this very second.
And if you try and fail? You tried. And now you have more information for the next time. And you will be ready. Because, “If you never try, you never know.”