Progress is impossible without change.George Bernard Shaw
By: Jianhong Zhou & David g Haddon
2021 has definitely started with a loud bang. As we settle into the new year and look at what we would like this year to be, what comes to mind? Are you excited about new opportunities and adventures? Are you worried about your financial future? Are you dreading the thought of another year doing the same thing every day? If the year’s outlook is bleak and makes you want to crawl back into bed until 2022, maybe it’s time for a change. Change isn’t the horrifying monster that everyone seems to think it is, but a necessity in life. When your daily life becomes so routine that you are not actively engaging yourself or learning new things, oftentimes, this will lead to depression and anxiety. Many times these are warning signs that something needs to change. It’s time to stop and listen to what your body is trying to tell you.
How do you know when it’s time for a change? Many people will not recognize the signs and wonder why they feel unmotivated and lazy. Left unchecked, this can lead to serious health issues and an even longer road to recovery. Ask yourself one simple question?
Are you happy?
If the answer is no, then it is time for a change. My clients would ask me, “How can I change if I don’t know what change needs to be done?”
Half of my clients are surprised by their own answers. The day I realized I wasn’t happy with the way things were going in my life, I laughed at my own surprise. People cannot see their own unhappiness because they have built a safety net around themselves in response to protect themselves. The longer they ignore the problem, the deeper they sink into the reality that they are happy when they are not and have a hard time seeing what others see what clearly needs to be done.
In 2010, I learned a fundamental lesson that shaped how I treat some of my clients:
“Every important change you are going to make, please find three different reasons. If not, I don’t believe you can invest your time and energy to do that.”
Three reasons for change!
I thought long and hard about this and realized that of all of the people I have helped, those who had more than one reason to reach their goals. Three reasons to continue pushing past the obstacles you have put in front of yourself. Three reasons to keep going when all you want to do is give up. Three reasons to succeed.
Three Reason for Change; David
In 2017, David and his family came to see me. His father was very frustrated and said, “You are the tenth counselor we’ve seen. This is your last chance to help my son!”
I assured him that I will do my best. After speaking with David alone for some time, he told me about Emily, a childhood friend who died in an accident seven years ago. They were very close, best friends since they were 5. Everyone said they would be together when they were older. David’s family is all bordering on obesity, and since her death, David’s weight has increased steadily and is now affecting his health. His grades are beginning to decline, and he spends most of his time alone in his room.
The first time I spoke with David, I asked him, “Why did you come to see me?”
“I’m depressed and overweight, and my parents don’t know what to do with me.” he looked at my feet while he spoke.
I smiled and said, “Is that what you’ve heard your parents say why you’re here?”
He looked up finally, giving me a sheepish smile. “I guess.”
“Why do you think you are here?”
He took his time to answer.
“Everyone tells me that I need to lose weight. And I know I need to. My knee always hurts, and it’s hard to get around now.”
“What’s stopping you?”
“What do you mean?”
“You say you know you need to lose weight, but you’re not doing it. Why?”
Again he takes some time to answer, “I miss Emily. I think about her all the time still. I miss her.”
David never got over the loss of his childhood friend, Emily. For years he slowly withdrew into depression, losing interest in his school, friends, and hobbies. He became so lost in his own depression that he did not know how to get out. People told him what he needed to do, but he did not have the desire himself.
“The next time we meet, I want you to give me three reasons why you think you need to lose weight.” I made sure he was looking right at me. “Not what you think I want to hear, not what you think your parents want to hear. Tell me what David wants. Why does David want to change.”
The next time I saw him, he looked up at me and said, “I want to lose weight!”
“That’s great! Why?”
“My health for sure. I think if I can lose one hundred pounds, my knees won’t hurt so much.”
“That’s a very good reason. What’s another?”
His eyes dropped down to the floor again. “I’m lonely. I’m tired of being alone and feeling depressed all of the time. And I want to make my family proud of me. My mom worries about me, and I want to make her happy.”
“Those are all very good reasons, David.” Over the next six months, David and I continued to meet and talk about his progress and dreams. He began eating healthy, convincing his family to go along with him to help, and his doctor recommended him to a physical therapist to begin a workout program. As the weight began to fall off, his grades improved along with his social life. In one of his last sessions, he said to me, “I met someone! We met in physical therapy and became workout buddies, and now we are dating!”
By taking a hard look at himself, David was finally able to see for himself the desire for change. His health, his family’s happiness, and love. These are the motivating factors that pushed him to succeed. Today, David has surpassed his one-hundred-pound weight loss and is in college with his girlfriend. They plan on getting married after graduation.
Everybody can tell you what you need to do to feel better, but if you don’t have a reason to change, a reason to get out of your rut, all of the advice in the world will not help. If you begin to see change as a positive, you will begin to see how quickly you begin to change and grow.
Three Reasons for Change; A Personal Experience
A recent personal experience in my life reminded me of this simple fact. In early 2020, I was beginning to feel tired and run down. I knew I needed to change to get out of my funk, so I joined TikTok. For the first few months, I did not have a lot of activity or views. I was getting frustrated that I could not come up with better videos. I sat down and asked myself, “What are three reasons to continue with TikTok?”
First, it is something new to do. How can we grow if we don’t learn new things?
Second, since English is my second language, TikTok gives me a chance to improve my English. Change can only occur when there is a need for it. I want to improve my speaking skills, and this app gives me a way to practice and hold me accountable.
Lastly, I started recording my videos halfway through my morning run. I find that some of my best ideas hit me during my runs, and it is best to get those ideas down fast.
I asked my followers the other day;
Can you find three different reasons for your change?