9 Questions that Make Change Less Stressful

winding road to change

Happy New Year!

Many people have change on their radar as we turn the page on another year.

On the one hand, the freshness of a New Year does give us a little momentum to start anew.

On the other hand, what choice do we have but to think about change? Everywhere we look, there’s a sign that reads: “New Year, New You!”

If I’m being honest, I get reasonably annoyed about all the talk on resolutions and change at this time of year.

It seems that the message about how change really works gets lost in our hurried effort to jump on the change bandwagon.

One common misconception about change, for example, is that it’s linear, a straight shot, free of slip-up’s, side steps, and mis-takes.

Let’s look at a common example like starting a meditation practice.

You’d likely begin strong, doing a bang-up job of executing your plan to wake-up early and meditate. A few days (or weeks) in, you might even start to notice a difference in your mood, focus, and stress level, and so, you vow to keep going.

Then, boom, life happens…. Work gets busy. You stay up late checking emails. When the alarm sounds the next day, you roll over and hit the snooze button. Okay, you missed this morning, but you’re determined to start again tomorrow.  You do it, but aren’t pleased with how it goes. Doubt creeps in and you start to wonder if this meditation thing is really for you. You go back and forth between skipping days and seeing your commitment through before you eventually declare that meditation simply isn’t for people who are this busy. You vow to try again when life isn’t so crazy.

Funny thing is, this is precisely – and completely – how change works.

It’s non-linear. It’s messy. It’s zig-zaggy. It’s full of stops and starts, doubts and hopes, moments of comfort and (many) moments of discomfort.

When you fall off the bandwagon, it doesn’t mean you failed, it simply means you’re on the path to change.

This leads me to a few questions:

  • What if you saw veering off track as normal?
  • What if instead of expecting everything to go smoothly, you anticipated bumps, hurdles, and breakdowns, and yet stayed open to learning along the way?
  • What if you let go of the idea that things would go as planned? (this is hard for me, but also very freeing!)
  • What if you didn’t declare defeat simply because you thought, “I should be further along?”
  • What if you didn’t get obliterated by excuses because you saw them for what they are: thoughts and stories (not hard facts or truth about what you can and can’t do)?
  • What if you could restart whenever the heck you wanted, instead of waiting to strike a perfect time or gameplan?
  • What if you knew you’d feel doubtful and afraid, and leaned in anyway? 
  • What if a straight path wasn’t as exciting as it sounded? 
  • What if challenge is what we really need to grow and thrive and change? 

When we approach change with realistic expectations, we’re much more prepared to handle the curveballs life puts in our path. We let go of where we should be, we stress less about missteps (even when they happen over and over), and we have more clarity and courage to deal with the things that hold us back.

What say you?

Here’s to keeping a real outlook on change in 2018 and beyond. Here’s to all beings meeting change with a wise mind and open heart.

Breon Michel

About Breon

Mindfulness teacher, compassionate community leader, entrepreneur, writer, stress reduction aficionado, hope igniter, adventure seeker, mountain biker, devoted to others