While many think that they live a stable life, the truth is that life is a series of constant changes. Change never ends and it is a series of continuous events, many minor and some major. The changes you experience may be subtle and unnoticed, but they happen nonetheless. Everything in life is temporary. All things are in constant motion. Nothing is actually at rest at all. So, small events will come and go, barely recognized, or even perceptible. It is important to understand that even bad things have a short span of time to exist and then life marches ever forward again.
Major events have a way of punctuating your life, often in a dramatic manner. Issues like marriage, divorce, birth, death, work, sickness, and more, have a way to bring a crisp focus to life. These major events anchor your life, holding it to firm ground, at specific moments in time. Time seems to stop, but it does not. The significance of the event simple amplifies the time and makes us perceive it as slower.
We are all on this earth for an incredibly short period of time. The duration of our lives are akin to grains of salt in the sea. We float along with the ebbs and the tides. Life passes in the blink of an eye in comparison to the vast cosmos and eternity that has come before us and will continue to proceed beyond us. As we pass through time, it is important to make the very best use of the infinitesimal amount of precious time that we have.
Another characteristic of life is entropy. From the moment that you are born, your life starts towards a path aimed at death. The entropy of life is a measure of the amount of energy which is unavailable to do work. Entropy is also a measure of the number of possible arrangements that your life can have. In this sense, entropy is a measure of uncertainty or randomness. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the entropy of a closed system will never decrease. But, in an open systems such as we have in our lifespans, it rapidly diminishes. The great British scientist Arthur Eddington claimed, “The pull of entropy is relentless. Everything decays.”
All of this sounds rather depressing and upsetting. What a downtrodden perspective for a Monday. But, it is important to understand and acknowledge the briefness of our lives, even if this connotation is not very encouraging to us.
So what? What do we do about it all?
To win at life you must live the best life possible. We must pursue success and happiness. Sage advise for sure, but how can this be done?
The secret is to embrace change.
Since change is inevitable, and we can do nothing about it, the best strategy is to use it to shape a powerful and meaningful life.
There is no a clear cut definition for what makes a life a good life. It is highly subjective and in fact, it is unique for each of us. What is important for one, may not have any value for another. For some, life is all about building a family and leading “life” as it is. For a few, life is all about religious practices. For a philosopher like Aristotle, life is about happiness: “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” So, there is no secret singular formula to tell you how to live your best life. It comes from within. This is the only place and way to change your life. You change it, no one else can.
Often, people endure intolerable situations. They think that they must continue and stay the course. Perhaps they feel constrained by circumstances, or more likely ‘fear’ holds them fast in place. Sometimes it is lack of vision. Some cannot answer the question about what else might be? However, the pain caused by change itself is most often said to restrict life and prevent you from leaving a bad situation so you can find a new, better situation. Fear of change is especially perplexing since change is known to be continuous and inevitable. Life will change regardless of whatever you do or not do. So, lack of action is still a form of action. We all flow along the water of life even if we decide to do nothing. You may not see it, but change is as constant as the rise and fall of the sea. So, if this hypnosis is correct. Then, why not change?
Personal reinvention is an exciting and invigorating part of life. Our parents and grandparents lived very different lives compared to what we do today. While they faced their own life challenges – ours are different. So, trying to reside within the constraints of their model of life is not actually possible at all. One fact to consider is that we live much longer than previous generations. So, holding just one job for the span of your lifetime is not a logical construct to adhere to anymore.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker currently holds ten different jobs before age forty, and this number is projected to grow. Forrester Research predicts that today’s youngest workers? – is that you? – will hold twelve to fifteen jobs in their lifetime.
The best careers for the next 20 years have not even been invented yet. So, holding steadfast to a dead-end job is not a wise strategy. Industries, companies, and jobs all come and go regardless of what we do or think. The act of work faces the exact same laws of entropy that all things in life face, including you.
Throughout my life I have continually asked myself, “what do I want to be when I grow up?” However, the key idea is that I will never, ever grow up. So, reinventing yourself to become someone new, interesting, exciting, different, an invigorating version of yourself, is a powerful approach to embracing the continuous flow of ever endless changes that happen whether you embrace them or not.
Do we ever have total control over our lives? No, of course not. Life happens anyway. But, we can influence, shape, and affect how we flow along within these currents of life. Sometimes the currents are turbulent and dangerous. And then, a few moments later they can lazily drift along feeling almost still and peaceful. Lulling us into a false hope of calmness. That is until these currents rage with utter chaos yet again. We cannot control the currents, but we can affect how we are caught up within them.
So, what is it that you want? Are you keen to get married? Have a child? Get a divorce? Find a new job? Change your career path? Pursue a different university degree? Whatever it is, you can do it. You simply need the desire to make a change. Everything else will fall into place over time. The standard excuses include:
- It is too costly to change, I do not have the money
- I can not leave him, think of how it will affect the kids
- I need my job, I have to pay the mortgage
- That university will never accept me – I was a poor student / I am too old / going back to school is for smart people, not me
All of these response are as valid as you think they are, and at the same time, they are as ridiculous as you believe them to be. You can accomplish any dream that you set your mind to achieving and possess the will to see it through to the end goal. Rich or poor, smart or dumb, old or young, anything is possible for anyone with a commitment to see it through to the end.
Here is one approach to changing your life. But, it is not the only way, nor is it the best way. Only you can decide and select what the best way forward for your life. The smart advice is to simply act on it and make it happen.
- What is important to you? Ponder the ideas and options. All things are possible. Ask yourself, “what if?”
- Dream. Picture yourself in this new life. What does it look like? Do you get happy just thinking about it?
- Make a plan. Actually several plans – short term, medium term, and long term. How do you navigate from where you are now to where you dream to be in the future? You will hit rough seas along your journey, so make plans and provision to meet these challenges.
- Release your regrets. Let go of the past. Look to the future. Regrets are events of the past and if you spend all your time thinking about the past you will miss the present and the future.
- Do the scary things. Get out of your comfort zone. Change is hard and often frightening. So, be brave.
- Seek a balance. Our physical, emotional, and spiritual state changes, as we get older. What we can control however is how we feed our minds and our bodies.
- Face your fears. If you want to change your life, learn to master your fears so they cannot control you any longer. Our fears are only thoughts in our minds that are not real but over time we have become to believe that they are true.
- Accept yourself. The only person who is going to create change in your life is you! And to create that change you have to like yourself. There will be times in your life where you will face rejection and there will be people who will not like you that much. Accepting who you are and loving yourself helps you to move forward in your life.
- Live in the moment. Many of us tend to think that the grass is greener on the other side. Often, we get to the other side of the fence we find that this is not so. The motivation to change our lives comes from our desire to be happy. We are often so busy focusing on our pursuit of happiness that we miss the joy of actually living in the moment.
- Experience the joy of learning. Each time you learn something new, you gain more knowledge and with more knowledge comes more confidence. Learning helps us to be more adaptable and flexible to new situations. Learning encourages us to be more creative and innovative in our thinking and we are therefor more comfortable with the unknown.
Procrastination is not just a failure to get started. We can face a variety of problems and needlessly delay action at many stages of goal striving. I think an important way to understand procrastination is to begin with an understanding of the psychology of action, particularly the problems that we must overcome during goal pursuit. Here are four potential problems that you need to know and resolve.
- Problems with initiating goal action – The first and most prominent challenge in goal pursuit that is commonly identified as procrastination is getting started. That is one of the reasons that my most often-offered strategy is simply, “just get started.”
- Staying on track – Of course, even once we have initiated action towards a goal, we have to avoid unnecessary disruptions. Persistence is vital for success.
- Disengaging from ineffective strategies – The general principle here can be thought of as “good money after bad,” where we keep investing our time and effort in an approach to our goal pursuit that is not working for us. We can find many ways to justify this to ourselves as we are functionally stuck in our approach, but it is important to know when to change strategies to achieve our goals.
- Keeping willpower strong – The final challenge is identify in our goal striving is one in terms of self-regulation failure, and that is avoiding overextending ourselves and depleting our self-regulatory resources.
The good news is that this procrastination cycle can be broken. The first step in breaking the cycle is to explore and adjust our unhelpful rules and assumptions. The next steps are to tolerate the discomfort, dismiss procrastination excuses, and replace self-criticism with self-talk that is more positive and motivational. It is important to remember that while approaching the avoided task can cause discomfort, the discomfort will likely lessen with each successive completion of the task.
So, does this help to put you on your path towards success? This is not by any means an exhaustive or complete approach, there are many other ideas and strategies that hold merit. You need to find the best approach that fits for you. However, I know that you can do it. You can change. You can make a better you, or new and different version of your life for yourself.
It all starts with a dream of a different life. As Peter Pan said, “second star to the right, and straight on till morning“. While Peter Pan has become a cultural icon symbolizing youthful innocence and escapism, it is also a story about growing up and changing one’s life to be someone different. Like Pan, we must face our own Captain Hooks who stand in our way and obstruct our path trying to hold us fast, where we stand. We must face our challenges and overcome them – fight hard to earn whatever you seek. Sometimes, it is a fierce battle. But with a little luck, some help from our friends, you too can be someone new and different. Your own Peter Pan 2.0.
Gershan, D. (2019). Why We Procrastinate and Why It Can Be a Difficult Habit to Shake. Urban Balance. Retrieved on October 28, 2019 from, https://urbanbalance.com/procrastinate-can-difficult-habit-shake/
Hambrick, M. (2018). Leave It to Death to Reiterate the Brevity of Life. Thrive Global. Retrieved on October 28, 2019 from, https://thriveglobal.com/stories/leave-it-to-death-to-reiterate-the-brevity-of-life/
Rehman, F. (2019). How to Reinvent Yourself and Change Your Life. Retrieved on October 28, 2019 from, https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/how-reinvent-yourself-for-the-long-term.html
Sanford, K. (2019). 10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever. Lifehack. Retrieved on October 28, 2019 from, https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/take-the-word-cant-out-of-your-vocabulary.html
About the Author:
Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies.
He is a business and technology consultant. Over the past 15 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).
Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V).
He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.
He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario. For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section.
He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 15 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more.