So yesterday we talked about the idea that change was possible – but that we were going to have to position ourselves appropriately if we wanted it to occur.
Today I want to talk about the idea that transformation and change actually require time and investment – which is not the same as trying harder.
Change – movement – growth – these things don’t happen by sitting still, and they don’t happen overnight, either. Like any athlete will tell you, it’s the small things, done intentionally over long periods of time that create the biggest gains and improvements.
So if transformation is our goal, we will need to set aside a season of life to focus on it. This might involve carving out time for a daily journalling session, a weekly coaching session or some other regular discipline.
We will almost invariably have to develop some new skills to take you to a new place – and becoming a learner can be a difficult and uncomfortable posture for many people.
We will likely have to cultivate new voices in our lives to coach us to these new places – and it might even mean setting aside some of the old voices from before, or at the very least, downgrading their input into our lives for a little while.
These investments can seem like a lot when we first get started, but if you’re on the right path you will invariably see some early gains to help bolster your confidence and expand your hope and motivation.
The time and investment required for change to occur means that it’s not going to happen accidentally or incidentally – at least, not in any very significant ways.
For example, if your car breaks down and you end up biking to work for a week while they fix it you will likely see some small health improvements incidentally. But if you actually want that change to take hold long-term or to be significant (or both) it’s going to take some time, effort and intentionality. You’re going to have to decide to bike to work every day all summer long, for example, or to choose a route that has some hills instead of taking the ‘easy way’.
Becoming intentional, like finding the hope to initiate a process of change in the first place, will benefit strongly from both honesty and solid connection.
Honesty will help us to judge accurately where it is that we’re starting, to plot where it is that we want to go, and to help us gauge a path or direction most likely to take us to our destination (as well as helping us notice when we get off-course).
When I was in high school I did some of my canoe levels at camp. One of the skills that we had to develop was called straight course, where you had to paddle the canoe across open water in a straight line for a certain distance. To achieve this, it was paramount that you find not one, but two landmarks to aim for, and that you keep them lined up along the same axis the entire way. That was because it was their orientation to one another that helped you to be straight. In other words, they kept you honest.
But without a good connection with my instructor, I wouldn’t have gone very far. You see, my ability to see things honestly and her ability to see things honestly differed wildly, because she had a lot more experience than I did – as well as the perspective afforded to her by her position on the dock instead of in the water!
More than that, she had a bigger toolkit to draw on than I did, so when I came back and she told me that I was still off by about ten degrees, and was drawing lazy snakes instead of straight lines in the water, she had suggestions about positioning and stroke corrections that I would never have come up with on my own.
Finally, the fact that I had set an intention with her at the beginning of the session to improve my ability to straight course meant that I had someone who would hold me accountable to my goals. When it got cold or windy or hot or sunny or I got tired or whatever happened to make me think that maybe it was time to pack it in for the day, she could draw me back to my intention and remind me of my goals, which in turn helped me to refocus my attention and put in the time and investment necessary.
The last thing I want to suggest is that transformation is easy or simple or quick or painless. Anything worth having is worth putting some effort in for. But with time and investment, with honesty and connection and intentionality, transformation is possible.
And the amazing thing is that not only is transformation possible for ourselves, but our transformation can offer ripples of hope and transformation into the lives of those around us – including (and especially) those who we love.