With the New Year comes the opportunity to think about making some changes. We all know how this works. We mean well, we really do. By golly, we’re serious this time! But by February we have forgotten what changes we were going to make, much less have made any progress on changing.
It all comes down to our thinking.
If we could just think differently, we would feel and behave differently. If it were that easy though, we would all be doing it well. I’m hoping to offer you a jolt, a jump start of a thought to help create the kinds of changes you would like to make in your life, not just in 2018, but moving forward.
Change happens in a three-step sequence.
- “Aha!” (Insight)
First there is an “aha” or an insight that something needs to change. Sometimes that happens from the outside, like a DUI, or job loss, or a spouse leaving. Sometimes it happens from the inside, for instance when a person who steps on a scale on random morning and decides that they are no longer live like this.
The second step is the information stage. We pay attention to helpful information that we may not have thought was important before, or we begin to explore new ways of going forward. Caution- this step takes humility… usually a person’s arrogance has helped get them in the current place that is calling for change.
The third step is implementation, where we begin to figure out the “how” part- how are we actually going to do it? So, first insight, then information, and then implementation. Eventually, after a period of time of implementing a new strategy or action step or way of thinking, we finally realize that change has taken place! Hooray! The hard part in all this is we don’t know how long it’s going to take for others or ourselves to feel like the change has actually happened and is authentic.
So, I hope to offer you two words that can get your “aha” in gear.
That’s it. “But now”.
That probably doesn’t sound like much, so let me explain what I mean. The apostle Paul wrote this phrase often in his New Testament letters, as a witness to the changes in himself and others he knew. “But now” refers to something that went on before, and references something different in the present. Whatever happened in the past, is now in the past. This phrase keeps yesterday from bleeding onto today. Today is a brand new clean slate. By telling ourselves “but now”, we make a clear distinction between what has gone on and what is going on today. Let me offer a few examples. From “my life is horrible” to “my life was horrible last year, but now things can and will be different”. From “I used to weigh too much, but now I am living differently.”
No one wants to be judged or evaluated based on past performances that they can no longer change. The power of the “but now” is that we can separate what has happened from what can happen. Sometimes all we need is a new way to think about our lives in order to find the motivation and excitement to go get that information and get implementing. Change takes time, to be sure, and one more thing of which we can be certain is that we cannot shortcut this process, or rearrange the steps.
I encourage you to think “but now” every day. Yes. Every. Day. Put it on note cards, bathroom mirrors, car dashboards, work desks, phone reminders, whatever it takes. Go live a “but now” life!
Rev. Greg Griffin is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and Forgiveness Coach in private practice in Marietta, GA. His specialty is relationship repair and rescue- helping partners, spouses, and parents and their adolescents. He’s also the author of Dungeon Times Survival Guide, and Vital Faith.