“Don’t be sorry, be different.”
That was a phrase I used a fair amount toward the end of my marriage. There were a lot of apologies, and not a lot of behavior modification (aka: changes).
The phrase resurfaced recently as I was thinking about change for an upcoming book. What is it about change that can be so debilitating and scary? Why do some people embrace it while others would rather hide under a rock…in a cave…in winter…behind a glacier? I am curious.
Unexpectedly, that phrase popped back into my head — so I started thinking about it. It was then that I realized something very important:
Actual change is incremental and cumulative.
Change is not some sweeping statement followed by grand gestures. That rarely lasts. Rather, it’s little things, done incrementally, that add up to big differences.
To do a complete turnaround in behavior would be like going from 0 to 180-degrees in an instant. It’s not likely to happen, though it is possible. The probability margins increase, however, when change becomes deliberate in 5-degree increments.
I realize now, perhaps, that the phrase I used could have been heard as a request for something BIG to be done (the 180-degree shift). Upon reflection, I feel that what I was truly asking for were the 5-degree steps that show effort and investment, ultimately leading to cumulative lasting change.
So when we talk about change what we’re truly talking about is investment. Whether it is in our relationships, our health, our careers, or ourselves, change is most probable when we are willing to invest in the situation.