How do I change directions? This blog addresses the last of the “Four Important Life Questions” series. There will be one more blog to continue the discussion of this very important question.
Thank you for hanging in and doing the hard work required by honestly answering the previous three questions: (1) Where am I?, (2) How did I get to where I am?, and (3) Where am I going?
Are you ready to change something about the way you do life? The change may be something small or truly life-altering. It may require you to wake up early to exercise or it may require some really tough discussions with someone you care deeply about.
Let’s be honest, change is not easy, especially if the pattern of behavior we are in has a long life. However, having the courage and taking action to change can lead us to a deeper level of living that will be worth it all.
How do I change directions? Let’s return to an earlier blog in this series about the man trying to make his way to an appointment. Recall how he got directions from a friendly policeman and walked confidently away, thinking the instructions would take him where he needed to go. He had no reason to think that the officer had made a mistake, one incorrect turn, one small piece of information that would take him further and further away from the place where the important appointment was to take place.
The man’s goal was simple, get to the appointment on time and accomplish what he wanted to do. He surely didn’t set out to get lost and miss the opportunity the meeting represented. He innocently followed the directions he was given, just like we have done in many areas of life. But after it dawned on him that something must be wrong, he hadn’t arrived where he was supposed to be. Sadly, time ran out and the opportunity he hoped to capture was lost. This story has an important life lesson for all of us, sincere effort doesn’t get us where we want to go if the directions we are following are wrong. Fortunately for us, God’s grace allows us to make important changes, and to learn new and healthy ways to live.
Here are the steps or stages necessary in order for change to take place. As you think about your particular challenge, you should be able to identify if and when these things have happened.
First, there is awareness that something is wrong. Before you can fix a problem, you must know there is a problem. There is physical pain, emotional distress, or some other signal that tells you to pay attention. If you investigate what is happening you acknowledge something is not as it should be. The pain makes you aware there is a problem. Pay attention !!! Have you reached the place where you know something needs to change?
This is a critical juncture in the change process but it is not enough. Lots of folks are aware there is a problem but never get around to doing anything about it. Take the next step.
The next step is a decision. Here, you choose what steps you will take to deal with the pain. Some types of physical pain you can ignore for a while or medicate with drugs, alcohol, food, or work. If you are aware that your pain is the symptom of a deeper issue you will have to decide, at some point, to put up with the pain or try to get it fixed.
Emotional pain isn’t always easy to recognize for most of us. Pent-up grief, destructive anger, dysfunctional relationships, and many other emotional maladies can cause all kinds of physiological and emotional issues. Are you dealing with some severe emotional stressors? What you decide to do about them is very important.
The decision process can be pretty hard. One of the main reasons for the difficulty is that we often look for easy, quick-fix solutions to tough problems. We want to put a band-aid on a deep wound. And, what I have found is that the longer a person denies the problem or waits for it to go away the more difficult it is to fix it.
Countless people have come to me to help them deal with a symptom of their underlying problems. As we delved deeper into the underlying issue, only those with real courage decided to face the essential problem. We often want relief from the pain but are unwilling to undergo the surgery.
So decide. What is it you want to fix? Is there something about your wife or husband you want to fix? Who or what is giving you a hard time? CAUTION! Please understand that you can’t fix someone else. However, while you can’t change them, you can change something about yourself to help deal with the issue. Is it your attitude, weight, laziness, lack of attention, or something else you are doing or not doing that is contributing to the problem? A good place to begin in changing your circumstances is to look at yourself and honestly think about the part you are playing in the problem.
So, what are YOU going to do about the problem? You may decide to gather some information through reading or talking with a wise confidant or counsel before initiating a plan of action. Whatever you decide to do, own the decision and live with it. Don’t blame others; it’s your decision.
I will have another word on “How do I change directions?” in the next blog. In the meantime, here are some encouraging words to help you follow through on the change you need to make.