“If nothing changes, nothing changes.”
I don’t know who first said that, but it challenges one of the biggest obstacles to a better life: waiting. Some people call it “hope” — hoping things will get better — without a plan. Other people call it fear — holding on to what you have because change sounds scary. Some call it inertia — where you can’t extract yourself from the couch because you seem to have a weight holding you down.
I don’t think of it as laziness, but too many people do. To call it “laziness” leaves out the key ingredient that gets us moving in the direction we want: motivation. Motivation is what animates us and keeps us doing hard things. It moves us because the goal is so attractive, the journey so rewarding, or, in some cases, the consequences of inaction have become really bad.
If you are reading this, you probably want things to be better a year from now. Maybe you want a closer or more exciting relationship. Or perhaps you can’t stop thinking about the past. Sometimes, when you look around, the life you’ve built seems too hard, or kind of empty.
Something is making you pause and wish for better.
That’s where the “if nothing changes” part comes in. Most of us have an idea of what we need to do to get things moving, but we’re hoping we won’t have to do it. Taking a class, having a hard conversation, walking away from something or someone. The next step can be risky. It makes sense to move carefully, to weigh all the factors, and to get advice.
But when and how to finally take that step into a better life is not as important as actually doing it. If you get up and start trying things, every success is motivation, and every failure is a step toward learning what doesn’t work.
Looking for inspiration in books, articles, websites, downloads, friends or somewhere “out there” has its place. But sometimes that’s also a good way to while away the days, weeks, months and years while… nothing changes.
Forget new year’s resolutions. Making changes requires regular acts of courage in the direction you want to go.
Margie Wheelhouse is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She provides couples and individual counseling in her office in Springfield, Illinois, and throughout the state by phone and web.