Big Change

What does big change mean? It’s not in the dictionary. I can look up big and I can look up change, but it doesn’t bring on the gravity of what we’re getting it. It’s often a change in your life, but not just an event, it’s a change in your lifestyle, maybe behavior or habits or part (or lots) of your daily world.

My definition of Big Change is, well, changing of late. I used to only equate it with some monumental life-altering experience. My then-girlfriend-now-wife and I quit our jobs in Amsterdam, sold our cars, left our homes, and traveled around the world for a year. I think my current definition is unfortunately “limited” to such extremes. But those round-the-world adventures don’t (most likely can’t–and maybe even shouldn’t) happen terribly often. If they did happen too often, their impact would be lessened. In fact, maybe along those lines, by definition, big change shouldn’t happen all that often.

If big change happens often, is it still big?

But it drives us, it’s what keeps us going, motivates us towards the Next Big Thing, the future goal, the following big step. Maybe it’s having children, starting a new career, losing 30 pounds, finally writing that novel, or traveling around the world. But it’s all relative. Maybe it’s as simple as learning how to play the piano. For 40 years, you’ve dreamed about it, but you’ve never done it–or never really gave it your all. You’ve built it up in your mind so much that it’s huge, it’s probably bigger than life. In fact, it might be so large that you’re intimidated by it and are no longer sure it’s even possible. Which fuels the lure of it–and then it becomes a vicious circle. How can you get out of it? When will the day come when you tackle that huge looming project? What’s going to be the trigger to get it going? And now that you’ve built it up to be such a monster, how are you even going to start it? What used to be a snowball is now a snowman–you can no longer lift it, can’t even budge it. If you chip away at it, will it break it or start it? Do you even know what to do to start? Do you know how?

If we can’t get it started, will we just remain dreaming, but forever frustrated? If this Big Change is a Big Part of our lives, chances are we don’t feel complete or feel that we are the people that we want to be. If we don’t accomplish it, who are we then?

So how can we get started? If you say, “OK, I’m finally ready to tackle that big change that I’ve been battling with for years.” but you don’t know exactly what to do, then … what DO you do? Take even something as simple as losing weight. You’d like to lose 30 pounds. The same 30 pounds you’ve been wanting to lose since you can remember. So now what? Do you join some group you saw on TV? Eat raw ginger and drink fresh lemon juice? Then you start, how do you keep going? 30 pounds just seems like so much. Hey, if it were easy, everyone would do it. Are you just a wimp? Are you just weak? Do you just not have the will?

Does lots of Bite-Size Change add up to Big Change?

What if we broke down the big, scary change into smaller pieces? Does that still count? With weight loss, hey, 30 x 1 pound = 30 pounds. Simple, right? Yes. Start with one pound, then move to the next one. But what about that trip around the world? What about kids? What about the novel you want to write? Can you just write a chapter a month? See how it goes?

Let’s put it this way: in the words of the California State Lottery: you can’t win if you don’t play. If you do nothing, you know the outcome: same old, same old. Or worse. If you “play,” if you give it a shot, a real shot, then who knows. Will it guarantee success? No, in fact, while we’re on the subject of guarantees, there are no guarantees when it comes to your future. But you can influence your future. I’m sorry, I missed that, who can influence your future? Oh yes, you. How can you do it? Hmm, start small? Maybe start with Bite-Size Change.

Maybe I’m missing the big secret when it comes to accomplishing big changes, but the only thing that has worked has been to break it up into small pieces, as small as possible, and succeed at them one by one. I’ve been writing now everyday for 55 days straight. If you had asked me 56 days ago to write for 55 days straight, I would have balked. But I didn’t write for 55 days straight–I wrote one time on one day. The the next day I did it again.

It’s Christmas Day 2012. My family is getting ready to go to a small town here in Puerto Rico, I need to get dressed. If Santa asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, it’d be easy: Big Change. If he asked me how I was planning on achieving that (since I don’t think he has that in his sack), I’d say that I would get there with Bite-Size Change. What’s the Big Change I’m looking for next year? Writing. What’s the bite-size change I’m going to use as my vehicle to get there? Writing. Specifics? Don’t have them yet, it’s still 2012. Ask me next year. But I’ll be here. Working towards it. Will you?

What is your definition of Big Change?

I did a highly scientific survey (I asked my 11-year old niece) of Big Change and how to use small change to achieve the big change. On the spot, which can be an awkward situation for a niece coming from her uncle asking her first thing in the morning, she said that big change for her would be to become a professional singer. Then I asked her what small change, that she had control over, she could work on to get to that big change. She said Selena Gomez went to an audition when she was six years old. (Wow.) So why did she, and not another girl in her theater class, go to that audition. They’re scary, intimidating, and full of adults with clipboards. What did she have that the other kids in her class didn’t have? She thought long and hard (which, for an 11-year old, is about 22 seconds). But she weighed it in her mind. She came up with her answer and I couldn’t have come up with a better on myself. The difference between that girl and the other kids came down to a single word: passion.

I’ll take it.

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