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A New Frontier Awaits - Embracing Change

CHANGE - that dreaded six-letter word that so many people despise and often avoid as much as possible. You have heard the saying, "the only constant is change," and "change is inevitable." One of the greatest motivational speakers of all time, Zig Ziglar, says this about change:

"When you change your thinking, you change your actions. When you change your actions, you change your future. When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you don't change your decision to get there. Making a big life change is pretty scary. But do you know what's even scarier? Regret! You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great."

These great sayings have inspired me over the years, because I am one of those few people who don't mind change. In fact, I often welcome it or seek it out with great zeal! It can either be dreadful or delightful!

Like you, I have had a number of changes throughout my lifetime. From relocating to another state and facing the fears and unknowns of what life would be like when you leave the only place you have ever known to an unknown place you have only visited once or twice - yet embracing it as the beginning of a new chapter! Losing a loved one in an instant - completely unexpected and tragically eventful - will rock your world with change! Or simply changing careers or employers - albeit often a great expectation, it still comes with some trepidation, fear, and doubt.

"Am I making the right move?" "Am I doing the right thing? "What if it doesn't work out as expected?" "What if I regret my decision to change?" "What if I fail?"

These are all very valid questions we often face when facing a change. The fear of the unknown, our own self-doubt and insecurities, lack of confidence, and discomfort with the logistics of change, often create what we call "analysis paralysis," meaning we "analyze" the situation ad nauseam, to the point we end up doing nothing or stopping the momentum toward making that change.

This leaves us complacent, and then we wonder why we feel stuck. The truth is change can be necessary, exciting, adventurous, welcoming, and thrilling beyond measure!

Think of it this way - when you lose weight and need to buy new clothes. The exciting thrill of trying on new outfits that look good, improve your appearance, and feel new brings a sense of excitement and joy. While some outfits won't fit just right, look just right, or match your personality just right, the great thing is you can CHANGE your outfit!

Every day, we make a decision about what we are going to wear. Depending on our tasks and schedules for the day, we base our outfits on what works for that day's events. We dress professionally when attending meetings, while dressing down when we are doing yard work. We know that dressing in jeans and a sweaty t-shirt is not appropriate attire for a business meeting. Yet, it may be perfectly acceptable if you are a landscaper or construction worker. I wouldn't wear scrubs to a professional gathering - unless I was a medical professional. And I most definitely will not wear a suit to a mud wrestling!

You catch my drift.

The same is true about other changes in our lives. To answer those common questions we so often face, here are some answers to help you out:

"Am I making the right move?" Weigh the benefits of making a move. Whether it is to a new company, new location, new home, new doctor, new love interest, new hobby, or new whatever, write the pros and cons on a piece of paper without too much analysis. In other words, do talk yourself into making a decision with each pro or con. Simply write them all down without bias or specific intent, objectively listing the points as if you were an outsider looking in, and you're giving advice to a friend. Then you can visually see if the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa. If both columns are pretty even, then it will require additional input and evaluation.

"Am I doing the right thing?" To me, the most important thing you can do when considering change is PRAY. Sometimes you may not know the answer right away, and sometimes the answer is start walking, take the first step of faith, and He'll meet you on your road to Emmaus (journey to a better place). As we take that step of faith, God will "order our steps in His word," and place us on the right path. Keep in mind the right path isn't always paved in gold! Sometimes it's paved in broken glass and hot coal! Why? Because there are lessons to be learned when we walk through the fire of our tests. Sometimes adversity IS the right thing, even though we despise it.

Take Daniel, for instance. God allowed him to be put in the lion's den in order to for Daniel to trust him and to teach everyone that God is faithful. God allowed Noah and his family to endure 40 days and 40 nights on a never-ending ocean to also show His faithfulness. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace, yet came out smelling like roses (figuratively speaking) after God, again, proved Himself faithful. So, sometimes those hot coals and broken glass pieces you are walking on is God's way of showing Himself faithful to you, teaching you to trust Him, and reassuring you that He will never leave you nor forsake you. Therefore, those tests result in triumphant testimonies! I always say no experience (even bad ones) are wasted. God uses them all to make us stronger, build us up, develop our character, and solidify our trust in Him.

"What if it doesn't work out as expected?" Disappointments may come. But, don't assume things will work out exactly as planned or even worse than expected. What happens when things go better than planned? Those little surprises are what we often call "accidental rewards," meaning we didn't realize how rewarding it may be until they happened, and yet, they were unplanned. Worse case scenario, it doesn't work out and you change, again. Just like clothes. So what if it doesn't go as expected? If you dribble food on your shirt, it's frustrating, but it's not the end of the world. Simply go change your shirt.

"What if I regret my decision" or "what if I fail?" Thomas Edison once said, "I haven't failed. I just found 10,000 ways how not to do something." That quote really resonates with me, personally, because I've had more failures than successes. Are there decisions I have regretted? Absolutely! I think you would not be human if you didn't have some regrets. But, failure shouldn't be one of your regrets. As I mentioned previously, we often learn from our mistakes (or at least we should), and we learn how to identify deficiencies and weaknesses in our plan.

On January 28, 2986, the space shuttle Challenger blew up shortly after launching form Kennedy Space Center. The cause of the explosion was a deficiency in n O-ring that allowed gas to leak and eventually ignite, tragically resulting in the death of seven astronauts, including Christa McAuliffe, who was supposed to be the first teacher in space.

Albeit extremely tragic, and I'm sure there were many people with tons of regrets, the lessons learned about safety, quality assurance checks, and the mechanics of future space vehicles taught NASA and their engineers many hard, but necessary lessons.

The majority of your so called failures will not result in earth-shattering, life-altering moments. They may be painful, embarrassing, uncomfortable, and sometimes regrettable, but overall we can learn from those moments that build our character, reveal the many ways how not to do something, or bruise our egos. And, therefore, they are not wasted.

Don't stress over change. More often than not, change is a good thing! Don't over analyze decisions. So what if you make a mistake and decide later the "outfit" you put on - meaning the move you made - is not one you should have. Most can be corrected. Some may leave a permanent scar. But overall, the experiences help define you and make you the person you become in the process.

Change often opens doors to greater opportunities! Do you know how many opportunities you miss out on when you fear change? A LOT! Worrying about the what-ifs will keep you incapacitated to make a decision, and make you a prisoner of your own doing!

Embrace change and ask yourself, "What lesson can I learn from this new adventure?"

You might just be surprised at the discovery of a new frontier you didn't know you wanted to explore!

"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional."

- John C. Mawell

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