I was thinking about change yesterday. Change seems to be the theme of my life in recent years and it’s interesting because it so wasn’t for the longest time.
I spent a lot of time floating around, not really doing anything, until the day I woke up.
Now that sounds like I was sleeping for a decade, and that’s a fairly accurate image. You know the story, where you go to school, grow up, get a job, get married, have kids, grow old? That’s a funny story, and not ha ha funny. In my circles, it’s the story we’ve all bought into. It’s the way things are.
But I know a lot of people are looking around and questioning whether this is all there is.
The answer lies within you. If you’re reading this, I’m betting there’s at least a grumble within you. A resistance to settling down.
I saw the play Pippin over the weekend. It was done at the arts high school in London and my goodness, it was done so well I couldn’t believe these were students. So good. So breathtakingly good.
Pippin is the story of the son of Charlemagne . And while he and his father existed, I’m not sure the play is factually accurate. But that doesn’t matter here. What matters is the story itself.
Pippin grew up feeling like he was destined to do more. BE more. He spent a long time searching for his purpose. Tried to be lots of different people from farmers to soldiers to whatever. He just felt like there was more to life.
In the end, he chooses to settle down, run a farm with a woman and help raise her son.
The bulk of the story is this passionate, driven man looking for his purpose. The last ten minutes consist of him giving up and settling down. Choosing the same life as everyone else.
Right up until that point, I loved the play. The music! The humour! The desires of Pippin to be something.
I know what he was going through. When I woke up, looked around and realized I hated the life i had settled into, I felt that drive. That need to do something more. But having spent ten years (more even) focusing on work and not on anything else, I didn’t even know where to start.
Leaving the beaten path is terrifying. At least, even in the dissatisfaction, you know where the road leads. There’s comfort in the knowing.
Lots of people will give you a million steps. How to change your life, follow these ten steps. How to be happy, do these three things.
My favourites are the click bait articles: Seventeen Easy Ways to Change Your Life. Number 8 Will Shock You.
That is not this.
When I think back to how i changed my life, there was only one step that mattered: the first one.
Allowing myself to say, and say out loud: I am unhappy with my life. I need it to change.
In my case, it was: I hate the life I built. I built it but it’s not right for me any more. I need to paint professionally. I need to change directions. Staying the way I am will kill my spirit.
Now, it may seem a bit silly to say that this declaration changed my life, but it’s true. It was the first time I said out loud to my spouse how I felt. That instead of sublimating myself, I chose to speak up and say what I needed. Permission (to myself from myself) given. Decision made. Path changed.
Two years later… actually three very shortly (!!!) the echos of that statement are still being felt.
Once I spoke it out loud, I found myself looking for opportunities and grabbing them. Things I’d never allowed myself to do before. The rest would never have happened if I didn’t take ownership of my need to change in the first place.