I haven’t written a blog-post (or “blogged”) for a long time, but that doesn't mean I haven’t been thinking about it. Every few days, a blog-worthy idea occurs to me, but I am either out walking or hiking, or reading a book, or watching a movie, or talking with the Scientist, and the last thing I want to do is come in from the porch swing or the foothills trail to record my random thoughts. I’m not very good at maintaining a “social media” presence, particularly when it involves firing up the computer. I work at my computer almost all of my 9-hour work days—excepting the occasional meeting, class, or assignment in the mechanical assembly lab—so I rarely head for the laptop when I am at home. I created the blog last year while I was unemployed and searching for a creative outlet for my writing, but since that time I have found full-time work and have been exploring other venues for my craft. Still, I have things to say....
I recently finished reading a book that was recommended to me by someone at work. By Chip and Dean Heath, it’s called Switch, and is subtitled “How to change things when change is hard.” The premise is surprisingly simple: “For anything to change, someone has to start acting differently.” The book is full of practical ideas backed up by theory and science, but that one simple sentence stands out, for me, as the provocative central argument for personal action, particularly when I add the phrase, “and I am that someone.”
Too often, when I observe a situation that presents as a problem, my brain goes into overdrive, devising solutions that dictate how other people could do things differently. But when I read the Heath’s simple statement, I realized that I am the one who can and must act differently for anything within my realm of influence to change, and if what I want changed is not within reach, then I need either to stop worrying about it, or get a ladder!
The changes I’ve made recently have been primarily personal. For example, despite my aversion to the public gym space, I decided to add a weekly 30-minute gym workout to my exercise regimen (which consists of yoga and walking), and I haven’t missed a week in 4 months. A series of small decisions and actions have made the switch possible. First, I had to decide to meet with a trainer to learn a 30-minute workout routine. Then I had to pack a gym bag and leave it in the car. Then I had to put a calendar/reminder item in Outlook so that I am reminded each week not to schedule anything else on Mondays after work. Then I had to be sure to pack the right kind of lunch and snack so that I have enough energy to go to the gym after working all day. Thirty minutes may not sound like much, but it’s a big deal for me—someone much more comfortable in a yoga or dance studio than among weight machines—and I am reaping the physical and mental health benefits of acting differently.
The Heath brothers also talk about corporate, societal, and systemic changes—not just personal ones—and provide some amazing examples. At every level, however, the same idea holds: someone has to do something differently or nothing will change.