Over ten years ago I read a book that changed me forever. One moment I was just floating around, the next I realised that there was a life that was passing me by, and I had to get on the train.
I believed at the time that if I just thought long and hard about changing, then it would happen.
I was so wrong.
It took work, and that work has gone for over a decade now. And it’s been the best adventure of my life.
I Want to Change Now!
Self Change don’t come easily. Or quickly.
Vast self change, the type that takes you from zero to hero, from grocery store clerk to CEO, is not a rapid process. It takes years.
If you’re a young man in your early to mid twenties (or any man for that matter who wants to make serious self change) settle in for the long haul. You have a lifetime of learning, discomfort and incredible rewards ahead of you.
Why does it take so long?
You psyche is like a deep valley. It’s been carved by river that’s run through it over the course of your life. That river has been fed by creeks and streams, that have in turn been fed by storms and snowmelt.
Your lifestyle habits, your thought habits, your emotional habits, your social habits, all your habitual behaviours have been worn into the bed of this valley, into the very musculature of your body and the synaptic connections of your brain.
Some people have broad deltas that allow the river to change course easily and relatively quickly. These are the quick adapters and chameleons.
Most people have steep valleys that take time to change.
A few have sharp, narrow slot canyons that will resist change at any cost. I would put most older (over 50) people who have never tried to change into this category. A lifetime of habit has worn their behaviour into an edifice that they themselves see no point in changing.
But for those of us in the middle category, with valleys worn by years of consistent behaviour, we have work to do.
It doesn’t all happen at a snails pace. One of the first things the Self Change Noob will notice is that once he starts, things happen. A couple of months in, he will experience small behavioural changes that seem enormous to him. Then, nothing will happen for several months. This will seem incredibly boring. But it is necessary. This is the consolidation period.
The consolidation period is where the changes that have occurred carve deeply into the valley. They start to change the river’s course. The initial change in course is noticeable, often painfully so. But then as it gets worn in, the pain disappears and the behaviour becomes normalised.
I think of this stage graphed as a plateau in the middle of a gradually rising curve.
Then suddenly the graph will spike upwards again, due to the work that the noob is putting in, and the process repeats.
A Decade On
It’s been over a decade for me on this path. I didn’t consciously choose it. However I knew that I wanted my life to be different. I wanted less pain and more happiness. I wanted choices. I wanted satisfaction. I wanted to do what I said I was going to do, and achieve things that were important to me.
In hindsight, it’s fucking awesome to look at how far I’ve come. At the time however, many of the changes that occurred were painful and confusing. It is getting easier and more pleasurable as time goes on, having gone through the process many, many times.
There are people out there who have been awesome from the get go. Great parenting, great genes and good luck can help.
The rest of us have an uphill battle ahead of us. And it’s the greatest battle of our lives.
I hope you’ve started, and if you haven’t, get on the train. It’s the best trip you’ll ever take.
Tell me about your adventure in self change in the comments below. I’d love to hear what your doing on your journey.