Starting to Change (1 of 3)

I’ve been hankering for change for a while. For one, it started when I left my position at a fast-paced, mentally and emotionally challenging tech startup. Suddenly I could breathe. I could be myself again. But who was I? How was I? The person I’d become, I didn’t like. The person I had been, I couldn’t remember. So instead I set about trying to live up to the aphorism a friend in college once said: “Every day always try to get one step closer to the kind of person you want to be.”

I signed up for a workshop that a former roommate of mine was co-leading called The Inkblot, which I loved. Every Sunday for three weeks we would gather in a community space (called Launchpad) in Crown Heights and explore, reflect, and commit. I’m great at exploring and reflecting; it’s committing that’s the hard part. The goal of the workshop is to “offer constructive and concrete ways to become creatively unstuck and kick off a passion project of your own.” Perfect.

Through the three weeks we looked at our interests; the possibilities; and then the plan. We examined our favorite activities as a child and how that influences what we still enjoy doing today, the types of activities. We reflected on who our “champions” were, and who were our “drainers.” And finally we wrote out a road map for achieving a single, giant goal by breaking it into three milestones with three specific goals each, with due dates and everything.

Perhaps my favorite part was the individual homework between sessions. Every member of the workshop had their own assignment targeting what they most needed and would benefit from. For example, my homework through the workshop included volunteering at Launchpad; having a “vulnerability conversation” with my boyfriend and mom; and writing a daily gratitude list. It sounds cheesy and the skeptic in me had a good time ridiculing my every step (“You’re grateful for food? Who are you?”) But in the end, I felt better for doing it. So who am I to complain?

Eventually the whole experience helped solidify my desire for personal change. The funny thing is, I’ve always craved it, always sought after self-knowledge and improvement and so on. When it comes to finding answers, I excel in finding solutions. The problem is that these solutions come in the form of “knowledge.” And as my friend Jason says, real knowledge is not information; real knowledge is behavior change. To learn something is to change something in your behavior.

While I really wanted to change and improve how I felt, improve my moods, my actions, my self, the route I took to do that was kind of amorphous and floating. I journaled. But in journalling I just wrote out how I felt and oftentimes dug myself deeper. I read. But in reading I ignored the real problem and patted myself on the back for “taking action” by finding a book. I talked it out. But in talking I satisfied myself with a part-time solution that didn’t really last.

So the point is I don’t think I ever went about improving myself in a really effective way. I’d like to, now. Of course I’m still reading to find the answers, but I’m also attaching myself to other techniques to give myself the biggest chance of success this time around.  

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