J. S. Eiland
So the question my friends, is this. How do we change? Like most questions and the answers to follow, this one is much more complex than it first seems. Let’s assume for now that change is the only option we have as a species. As in, if we do not understand how to change in a single, omnipotent instant than we will face the extinction of the human race tomorrow. I don't know about you but I never attended any classes in college teaching me how to change. Now I know high schools and primary schools are adjusting many of their teaching methods and curricula as well but to my knowledge there are still no classes on how to change. On top of the all-encompassing lack of direction in this discipline we are by nature to boot, creatures of habit. After all, we call it the comfort zone for a reason right? So just the motivation to break free of that inertia is going to require a great deal of energy and change.
I have a friend who has worked the same job for over a decade now. Now I want to clarify quickly that some people are wired to work in this way and if that is the case than I do not advise living as I do because you will go insane without a job to go to on a regular basis. So I am not knocking this life choice, quite the opposite really, I often envy my friend and those like her who can do what I cannot. But the real issue here with this friend of mine is that she hates her job. She absolutely abhors always having to go to the same place, see the same people, and do the same work. She complains about it all the time and it seems, that is no way for her to live her life, nor anyone else for that matter. Wouldn’t you agree? Change is a must in a situation like this. So I asked her, ‘why don't you quit?’ Her expression told it all. Change? The unknown? She would rather deal with this current stress. This stress she feels every day of her life and the anger she develops because of always being stressed. She was stressed and angry all the time leaving her in pain, and she preferred this to facing some sort of unknown. I asked her, ‘don't you remember being a child and going to school? Each year you would be nervous or maybe even afraid because you’d have all new classes, new teachers, maybe even a whole new school depending on the grade in question. Massive amounts of change would swirl around your life like an Autumn wind full of colored leaves these changes were, year after year. Even still, your parents did not allow you to miss the opportunity to go because they knew you would be able to rise to the occasion. They knew you could handle it. That's exactly how I feel about you now.’
I wanted so badly to force her out of this detrimental prison cell of comfort she was in because I know she will not just succeed but really she will excel at whatever she sets her mind to. But this is not my place. As Socrates said; ‘I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.’ But this behavior of hers baffles me. Now I don't expect anybody to follow my path as I tend to seek out the most difficult routes, but find some other way to live your life please. I beg of you, because this darkness in you is so easily illuminated if you would simply soften yourself and make but one slight change towards the life you want. After all, change has never been, nor will it ever be easy. Quick is another word none would dare use to describe change. It takes time and consistent dedication to enact any real, lasting changes. They say it takes 28 days to create a new habit. 28 days. Do you realize just how long it is? We will say a month for simplicity. It is estimated that the average
human in today's world lives to be 79 years old, again for simplicity will say eighty years old. So if the average human lives to be eighty years old, with twelve months in a year, that gives us an average of 960 months in our lives Let’s round that to 1,000 months because honestly, is anybody really going to complain about getting to live for three and a half more years? Whoopdy doo. What does it all mean Basil? Well it means it takes us one tenth of one percent of our lives to build a new habit. Now on the surface that may seem like a pretty small amount, a significantly small amount really. One might even be inclined to describe it as an insignificantly small amount of time to sacrifice, but let's dig a bit deeper.
Most people sleep for about eight hours a night, roughly a third of their life is spent asleep. Docking these hours from our 1,000 month lifespan increases that one tenth of a percent by fifty percent. In other words, the number of habits we could form over a six month period drops from six to four, instead of 1,000 available habit forming months we are left with only 666. Still, this seems like a relatively small decrease considering the necessity of sleep and besides, overall it doesn't really seem to bode too much urgency does it? Well let's dig a little deeper. Between school and work we knock off somewhere in the vicinity of 125,000 hours of our lives or the equivalent of about 173+ months. We will again round up to 175 months for simplicity. So subtracting 175 months brings us down to 491 available months for us to utilize in the formation of new habits. Already now, less than half of our allotment of time on this planet is ours to do with as we please and I for one do not want to spend all of that trying to form habits, new or otherwise. I enjoy plenty of other activities, like reading and gardening as I’m sure all of you maintain your own hobbies in these free times.
You can see how quickly and easily we lose the time we are given in life. Over half of our lives are already predetermined by physical necessities and cultural demands on our time. Never mind any time you spend with friends and family, working on projects, and enjoying personal escapes. It doesn't take long to realize that another two hundred or so months are likely spent attending family dinners, relaxing on vacations, supporting dance recitals and sports practices. How many people sitting in traffic right now will see ten percent of their lives eaten away by the time they kick the bucket? All of a sudden we find ourselves down around, and this is of course an estimate but I'm confident in my math, we will call it 250 months available to us to do with whatever we would like with no other arrangements nor engagements upon the time. But here's the thing. We are human. How often do we succeed at something the first time we attempt it? So how many of those months will actually be utilized successfully, to build good strong and useful habits for our lives? Two hundred? Less? One hundred? All I know is once I realized how little time I really had to enact some kind of change in my own life I felt a sense of urgency I cannot even hope to describe to you.
So in conclusion, I would ask what you are waiting for? How long are you willing to be miserable? How little of your life do you want to control? Are you not ready now to be the person you want to be in the future? Or are you just going to completely give up on yourself? What about your dreams? Do they deserve to be abandoned like trash? How about those who look up to you? Do they deserve idolize someone who is too afraid to take charge of their own life? I know change is scary, we naturally fear the unknown, but does it not seem far scarier to be nothing at all? Nothing at all is exactly how you will be remembered, or not remembered as the case may be if you are unwilling to change. We are not made of concrete. We are not rigid and rooted like a tree. We are pliable. We are mobile. Our entire design is in essence, perfected to cope with change and to better ourselves as a result of that change. It is time to embrace who we truly are. I beg of you, do not spend even one more day on something in your life if it is not growing or furthering your dream. If not you will likely find that tomorrow is already too late for you.