On (Unwanted) Change: Let’s Clarify

GRIT
GRIT

Good morning, dears! I hope you are well! I am trying to crank this piece out before the kiddos wake up and demand four million things before the sun rises.  Ah, motherhood.

As I re-read my last post about change (you can read it here), I think I need to explain myself a bit more.  Seriously, you might ask? That one was awfully long, lady.  I know, I know.  But I am starting to worry that I could be leading you astray with my thoughts on a dynamic life. So I want to clarify.

The forest fire article talked about making changes in your life.  I said it’s best to lean into change, and to invite it in. That when you keep the same-old, same-old because it’s comfortable, you end up not being able to handle any changes that DO come along. And to this I still say YYYYEEESSSSS!!!!! But this is where I need to clarify.  My ideas about change and living a dynamic life were in reference to changes that YOU have sought for yourself.  Changes in your life that reflect who you are are the healthiest, best kinds of changes.  But eek–what happens when changes come that you don’t agree with, don’t like, or can’t control? What then?

This is where the difference in how you handle and approach change comes in.

Friends, change is healthy and good MOST of the time.  But sometimes? Sometimes it stinks.  Sometimes people try to get us to change, or to impose changes on us, that we don’t agree with in our hearts.  You know when this happens.  You get that slightly sick feeling way down in your gut.  You get anxious (or, if you’re someone like me who is basically anxious all the livelong day, you get more anxious).  It just doesn’t feel right. And then you have every right to say–wait for it–NO.

Uh huh.  You can resist change. It is okay to stand up for what is right for you!!!!  When changes come along that you know in your heart are not good for you, not healthy, or not what you need, you don’t just roll over because “change is healthy”.  Let’s be clear: THAT DOES NOT APPLY HERE.

Can we talk for a moment about grit? Grit is kind of a buzzword these days.  And I rather like the idea. Basically, grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals. It’s having a solid work either and being able to stay motivated in the long run.  Grit is following through on your commitments. Angela Lee Duckworth gave a TED talk about grit that is fantastic (and where I pulled these definitions from); you can view that here. Basically, she says that in her research, she found that the “grittier” you are, the more likely you are to find success.  It’s fascinating! It doesn’t matter how much money you have, what your IQ is, or how wide your hips are (whew)–if you are gritty, you’ll realize your goals.  That’s pretty awesome, because that means that anyone can be successful in this life with the right mindset. ANYONE. Whoa.

Duckworth also references the work of Carol Dweck, out of Stanford, who has done a ton of research on growth mindset.  Growth mindset and grit are kind of twined together.  Growth mindset allows you to see your efforts as having an effect on your outcome.  The harder you work, the more likely you are to achieve your goals.  This is in contrast to a fixed mindset, which means you see any effort you make as having little effect on your outcome.  Fixed mindset kind of relies heavily on the idea of “fate” or “destiny”, whereas growth mindset focuses more on how YOU can affect your life.  Basically, having a growth mindset means you’re gritty and willing to work hard to achieve a desired outcome. They are also linked.

So how do grit and having a growth mindset relate to change?

When you are gritty, you are willing to look at what you want and go for it.  You set a goal, take steps to reach that goal a little at a time, and you stick with it (the sticking with it part is the key).  There’s just one caveat here: you have to actually know WHAT you want to work for.  What do you stand for? What makes your heart beat? Real grit comes from being able to see your end game, your finish line, and then taking steps to realize that goal.

Small changes in our life can really help push us towards our goals.  When you look at your current life and your finish line, you can see whether or not they match up.  Are the steps you’re taking today contributing to the end game? If they are, fabulous! If NOT, then what changes can you make that will support your efforts? How can you be GRITTIER in working towards what you want in your life?

But guess what? Sometimes, SOMETIMES changes come along that do not align with our end game.  We can be gettin’ all gritty about our goals, and working really hard, and then *poof*!!!  Unwanted changes come and sidetrack the hell out of us.  For me, this is one of the most frustrating experiences on the planet.  Here I am, minding my own business and working toward the things that make my heart beat, and then life starts to go off the rails.  This is not how it’s supposed to go, dammit!!!

But wait–YOU HAVE A CHOICE.  Remember? When changes come along that do not align with your goals, that challenge what you know deep down is right, you don’t have to play along.  You do NOT have to be a doormat to change.  You can stand up for yourself and say NO.

What does that look like? How do you know when to open the door to change, and when to lock the deadbolt? I think that first of all, you have to decide for yourself what the right course of action is in the face of change.  Then: STICK WITH IT! Stay gritty! This will take some thinking on your part.  Gotta dig here.  What is the best thing for you and your life? Can you come up with another plan that will better align with those finish-line goals you have? Can you at least come up with a better first step? Can you be gritty in your choices, meaning can you stick with them in the long run? If circumstances are being imposed on you that you can’t live with for the long run, this is when you know it’s not the right situation for you.

Someone once told me that being resistant to change means that you have a fixed mindset and that you lack grit.  And it CAN mean this, yes.  If you resist all change to remain comfortable, then it absolutely can be the opposite of grit.  But when changes in your life are imposed on you, and they don’t line up with what’s in your heart, then digging in your heels for what you know is right is the RIGHT thing to do.  This IS grit, dears.  Keeping your goals in sight for the long term? That’s it right there.  Being resistant to change that is imposed on you–and that you don’t agree with–is admirable.  Stand up for yourself, friends.  Even if no one else will.

Will you be wrong sometimes?  Um, yes.  A thousand times yes.  But we have to be willing to fail, to be wrong, and to start over again with lessons learned.  As Duckworth says in her TED talk, “failure is not a permanent condition”.  Oh, how I love this quote.  YES! You pick your course, you stay gritty towards your goals, and then if failure comes along, you learn and move on.  This is just the ebb and flow of life. Beautiful and hard all mixed up together.  So don’t be afraid of change, but also don’t be afraid to stand up for what your heart tells you is right.  This is admirable and gorgeous.

Now hang on just a second.  Don’t go overboard here. We don’t want to turn into stubborn folks who only see their own way. Remember you are not always right, right? Be open to listening and learning. Hear what others have to say as they defend THEIR truths. But above all, be true to yourself.  Take new information, often packaged as the reasons for the imposed changes, and see if it aligns with your gritty goals.  Yes? Awesome. Good changes are coming your way. No? Well, then, you have a choice, darling.  And I say you DON’T roll over (and get rolled over). Keep your heart’s goals in mind, always.  They will forever guide you home.

And in the end, sometimes the poop will hit the fan. Sometimes your life will take a spin that is NOT what you had in mind, and isn’t aligned with your heart and your goals at all.  This is just how the universe works.  At that point, you say: What can I learn from this? What is this situation trying to teach me? Perhaps there is a lesson here to use next time. But always know that if you look at what is important to you, and at what you know is the right thing for you in your life, you can stay the course and stay true to yourself.

I wish nothing but positive outcomes and a bit of grit for you all, dears.

Photo credit: Mark O’Rourke, Flickr

2 Comments

  1. Great article, Amy! It made me think of one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Wayne Dyer, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.

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