How to Change Your Life in 5 Easy Steps
How do we change when things go awry?
Posted Jul 14, 2020
Time doesn’t really exist outside of what we impose on it, or what is imposed on us. With our habitual rhythms gone or eroded, we are faced with a vast amount of the unknown, more familiar to living things during the early stages of their development.
What better time to reframe things. But where do you begin?
Step 1: Everything happens by chance, nothing happens for a reason, the dice are rolled, you win, you lose, no one cares. So you might as well enjoy the feel of the cubes in your hand, your small fist around the hard, red plastic, the long look of the felt table. That said, bear in mind that life is a crapshoot—things often do happen that are way out of your control, but within that timeless situation, ripe for failure or success, you make your own luck.
So if you’re winning at something, take your winnings and get up from the table, the longer you expect to win big, the more likely it is that you’re going to lose big.
Pragmatically, that means accepting the fact that many things have changed, not necessarily for the better, and that a lot of what was there before? It’s not coming back.
What have you got that you value?
Step 2: The Italian philosopher Gramsci wrote, “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”
Taking these words as a cue, we can see that what is happening now is a stage between the old and the new. Consider the people and things that sustain you, who and what you cherish.
What can you do, who can you spend more time with, which actions you take will bring you closer to the best that’s in you and others? Having identified your strengths, and those people and things that make you stronger, it’s time for...
Step 3: Not every idea you have is going to be a good one. On average, 80% of my ideas are stinkers. Fifteen percent are OK, forgettable, not exactly embarrassing, but far from valuable. Four percent are reasonably good, but of little use. So why bother?
I’m aiming for that one percent: That one great idea.
You have great ideas, too, but you have to spend time looking for them. Now that you have a different relationship to time, you can take that third step: Get lost in your ideas. Don’t distract yourself, don’t deny what you’re feeling, apply your emotions and cognition to making things better.
Create new systems and institutions within your home and communities. It’s like: Enough is enough.
The fourth step: Recognize that the new world you’re part of, and that’s imposed on you as well, is imperfect. Think of yourself as being in the early stages of a new development. Who you were before this happened, that person remains you, but you’re changing. You are making things change, you have that authority.
In the fifth step, try to see all of this as a golden opportunity to reframe things, to reinvent ourselves, and to influence anyone with whom we come into contact to be a positive force.
And to be sure, all of this takes time, and we are all making enormous mistakes: We haven’t been here before.
Gramsci, Antonio. Prison Notebooks. New York, New York: Columbia University Press. 2011