Are You Impatient For Change?

Are You Impatient For Change?

Are you impatient for change?

I’m not surprised. We live in a society that first tells us we are not enough and then teaches us that change is easy, quick and available right now.

We’re bombarded by quick-fixes, and we reach for them: medicine that’ll get us back on our feet again; the shiny car that’ll solve all our problems; the must-read book that will reveal a new us and the higher paying job that’ll turn the world from black to gold.

Society tells us it knows how to fix us. And we want to believe it – it’s easier to absolve responsibility for ourselves and our lives, than have to deal with the fact that we hurt, we long and that’s messy and might take time and trouble to sort out.

And who’d blame us? If my pain can be taken away and the person who I want to be, the experience I want to have, be given to me on a plate, I’ll take it!

But we all know, deep-down, that quick-fix change is short-lived. Like putting a sticking plaster over a gaping wound, it doesn’t heal us, it doesn’t make us whole and it doesn’t bring us what we want.

Authentic change takes time. And it’s messy. It takes looking at where we are with honesty, without the usual distractions – reconnecting with our true selves and facing the often uncomfortable things that are in there.

I’ve made a lot of changes in my own life – losing half my body weight, ending a comfortable marriage, quitting the corporate world, moving to another country and starting my own business.

The road to those changes has been paved with lots of looking for quick-fixes. Touching upon my pain and my longing was suffocating and I reached out to grab whatever was going, whatever seemed like the best idea at the time.

Years of taking the quick-fix led me to a realisation that patching things up wasn’t satisfactory and I needed to go deeper – there was something more.

Take my weight loss. My teenage self, desperately embarrassed by the 280 pounds she was carrying, looked everywhere for a fix. Sweets that would supress her appetite, ‘crash’ diets that half-starved her, fad food plans that saw her regimenting her eating and mighty depressed, along with ‘low-calorie’ this and that.

But they made no difference, and if seemed like they were going to, it’d be short-lived and I’d end up putting the weight back on.

It wasn’t until, at the end of my adolescence, seeing my 20s stretching ahead of me, I took stock of how lonely and sad I actually was and realised that instead, what I really wanted, was to have fun, go out, flirt, dress up and enjoy myself. This stark, honest look at the disparity of my reality was quickly followed by the knowledge that it was up to me, that no-one else could save me and that I had to look deep inside of myself and really connect with my longing in order to give me the motivation to take the small, sensible steps that I needed to, one after the other, to lose weight.

And years of frustrating grabbing for help transformed into a year and a half of sustained weight loss, and a whole new me, physically and psychologically.

Next came my frustrations with my work. Deep down I wanted – as we all do – to have a job that meant something to me; something I loved and was valued for. But delving into and acing that meant considering what I needed to do to bring it about. It was way too much, so I turned to the ‘best option’, the one that normal society would have me do. My career quick-fixes led me from bank, to oil company, to engineering firm, to IT company, to Microsoft – each step providing me with more prestige and more money – one of the gentle suffocations of the quick-fix in the job world; being pacified by new challenge, status and money and the temporary self-esteem and satisfaction they brings.

It was the process of trawling the depths of myself to find the confidence to end my comfortable and secure marriage, and the perspective of a 3-month sabbatical, that helped me realise that these quick fixes, designed to patch over my longing, give my self-esteem a boost and quell my boredom just weren’t doing it for me.

Taking responsibility and making real change took time; time to figure out what I was about, time to try things out and learn from them, time to engage in each step of the process that would lead me to what I wanted.

After much reading, learning and visioning, I decided to step out of my job with Microsoft and take a job for a music charity in central London where I would earn less than half of the salary I had been used to.

A year into this job, I realised that working in an office was never going to cut it for me, and that my next step was stepping into my curiosity and my passion at a deeper level. This took me, ultimately, on a journey to creating and developing my own business – a process that took time, and although has been and is deeply rewarding, was also spattered with frustrations and painful realisations along the way.

And knotted together with this career change has been my move from the UK to Italy. I’d always had a sense of adventure and a thought that I wanted to go live somewhere else: I love being warm, adore the sensuality of Mediterranean life, and am totally awe-struck by the nonchalant beauty of Italy. I didn’t, however, think I was strong enough to move countries – telling myself other people did that kind of thing, not me. So, instead, I went for the quick-fix: Using my healthy Microsoft pay packet to take as many vacations as possible; living for travel and culture shows on television, medicating myself by coming up with reasons why other people could ive adventures but I couldn’t.

The real change was a slow process.

And this time it came from a low.

I found myself with a neck injury, and spent months wearing a soft-collar, unable to leave bed for longer than 2/3 hours without the whole of the side of my neck erupting in painful spasm.

In that environment, from that low, I had the bravery to look at where I really was and what I really wanted for my life. I connected in with my dream and with the fear of never being able to live a normal life again hanging over me, I vowed that I would get better, and when I did, I would get out to Italy. I knew there were no more quick-fixes, this was it and it had to be done.

And I did get better, and slowly, I took the steps that I needed to in order to move myself to this glorious country.

Quick-fixes can fool you for a while but real change takes time. It involves looking honestly at where you are and connecting with what you really want to bring into your life – even if that’s painful as it makes clear the gaping hole between where you are and where you dream of being.

When you are aware of that chasm, when you’ve connected with the gap, you’re able to start taking the steps you need to walk across it – you know you’re heading some place you really want to be, with your eyes wide open, rather than hiding yourself away from it and applying a quick-fix.

Photo by Jenavieve

Alison Ottaway

Alison is the inspiration and guiding light to a generation longing to step out of the mainstream. She is founder of the life-change movement Path Less Trodden – her passionate, yet down-to-earth message being born out of the many successful transformations she's made in her own life. You can find out more about Alison and how you can walk your own Path Less Trodden at http://www.pathlesstrodden.com.

Latest posts by Alison Ottaway (see all)

18 Comments

  1. It is true that achieving our biggest goals and innermost does usually take a lot of time and it is said that to master a skill it takes over 10,000 hours. However, these days most people want to see the results right away, which rarely happens as we have to truly dedicate ourselves to what we wish to achieve and to keep working at it in order to get there.

    Thanks for sharing your article..

    Reply
  2. Excellent post, Alison! I had to learn this lesson the hard way many times over before giving in and admitting real change would take lots of effort and time.

    I tell my guitar students that changing even a minor bad habit will not be overcome by the end of the lesson. They will need to work on it at home after we work on it together in the lesson. I tell them, lightly, I will probably have to bug them about it in their next lesson too. Then I thank them for putting up with me and my pickiness;)

    Reply
    • Wonderful analogy CJ. My boyfriend is a musician, he inspires me with the dedication, patience and sheer steadfastness he brings to his passion.

      Reply
  3. Thanks for sharing your story. A quick-fix can be so tempting! I have fallen into this trap and wound up feeling stuck. Once I finally accepted that the change I wanted to make was going to take some time, I finally started making progress.

    Reply
  4. Thanks so much for sharing this. I have found myself at the point in my life where I am no longer satisfied with the quick fixes that never really accomplish anything. I have been in the searching process for about 3 years now. I think your words about ending your comfortable marriage affected me more than I expected a a blog to, even if very close for comfort. Thanks for your words here. I think they have given me pause to reflect on the things I have long chosen to avoid.

    Reply
    • I’m glad that my words prompted something in you. Be patient with yourself, Kelly.

      Reply
  5. Wow, what an amazing path you’ve taken. I understand and agree that there is no such thing as quick change. I wrote an article on here about it, too. It’s great to see someone else making that point. Keep up your slow change. It takes strength and courage.

    Reply
  6. We seek these quick fixes and want instant gratification when really it is the slow one brick at a time approach that is most beneficial.

    Trusting the process almost, and then slowly putting one foot in front of the other!

    Thank you for the post

    Reply
  7. Hi Alison,

    I’m with you, I found that even though it was my “dream” as a child, working in an office just plain sucks.

    I had childhood visions of being a business man with a corner office, a huge desk, and instructing people to do various things. When I finally discovered how tedious the whole process is, and how downright dreary it is to be stuck in the same place day in and day out, I could not leave fast enough.

    I applaud your self examination and determination to take things slower and enjoy the journey. I can only imagine how wonderful it must be for you, now, to step outside and realize where you are and how hard is was to get there.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    DC

    Reply
  8. Alison, it was a nice post, thanks for sharing.

    I did the same like you. I had been working in the bank sector for 6 years than I resigned and came to London.
    These journeys help a lot to learn more about life and about ourselves. And with the realizations we are able to appreciate more our own country because traveling is about not just changing location but changing mind as well.
    I would always recommend traveling or living in another country at least a short period of time, because it widens our horizons and helps to see things from another point of view.

    Reply
    • Very true. The process of travel, is for me, a curiosity to see how other people live their lives and what they value…I’ve never assumed that how I was brought up, what I was taught, was right. Travelling has been instrument in the cementing my desire for change. Enjoy yours!

      Reply
  9. Nice post. For me, I am just getting over with college and have to make the change of sitting in a classroom to working in the real world. Starting out at a new job is difficult because you want to be at the level that everyone else is already at, but I have finally realized it takes time. Everyone has to start somewhere and go from there. I also take a lot of easy routes because I don’t want to face a change. I get so use to living my repetitive, comfortable life that any change scares me. This is something I have to get over and look into what I really want in life. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
    • Thanks Jena. It is normal to get stuck in habits and fear change. The more we entrench into our habits the harder it gets to change…just little steps out of the routine, out of our comfort zone, help us gain confidence and build muscles that make it easier the next time. Enjoy your journey!

      Reply
  10. That’s quite a journey of self discovery! I think a big part of the problem is that many people don’t really know what they want out of life so they grasp at whatever they think will make them happy. At least speaking from my own experience that has been the case for me.

    Reply
    • Totally right, Emma. It is the basis of our marketing industry – offering things and implying they will make us happy. It’s scary to look beyond this. Good luck with your journey.

      Reply
      • thank you very much Alison, I am just in the middle of career change and I see have hard is it, and sometimes I am not patient and want quick result but I see how much I want quick fix that much end result coming with happenes…
        ıt is a life, belief, perspective changing process…

        Reply
  11. I can relate so much! I’m impatient for change right now, after a bit of a breakdown and a honest look at my life in spring.
    I’m rebuilding, but it seems like hardly anything is changing, despite all efforts. I know it’s not true, but the process is too slow for my liking. I’m very tempted to take “shortcuts” that will not really help me, because of that impatience.
    It’s good to hear your story, thank you for sharing! Very inspirational for all of us who struggle along :)

    Reply
  12. You reminded me of a concept I heard while at Insead. It went something like this “succesful resignation”.

    It was about seeking to do your best and to intervene in strategic places and then stop, watch and wait for the universe to unravel it’s forces/doings on your deeds.

    Great article!

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>