Monday, April 27, 2015

Change and Cheese


2014 was a tumultuous year for me. 

In the last year and a half I've changed jobs a few times, got engaged, and dropped out of school. (Not in that order.) I also moved out of a terrible apartment complex that I still have nightmares about occasionally. To say that last year was exciting for me would be an extreme understatement. 

Change has always been difficult for me. It's hard for me to convince my mind to try new things, and although I like routine it takes a lot of work for me to even get into one. Change makes me anxious so I try to avoid it at all costs.

However, in an attempt to bring myself to a better state of mind following the chaotic year that was 2014, I am trying new things. Slowly but surely I am trying new things in an attempt to make my life a little easier.

I started a new job about six months back that allows me to leave work at work when the clock strikes 5 p.m. Some people consider that a bore, I consider it a luxury.

Because of this weekly routine I've been able to instill other small changes in my life. I've started eating healthier. Exercising. Writing. Spending more time with my family. When I'm ready to take on a little bit more I plan to find some volunteer work to do. Although it may seem silly, these things have really helped me recuperate from feeling anxious, overwhelmed and even physically short of breath at times.

I've also started reading again. I didn't realize how much I missed reading until I started doing it regularly again. I've been reading everything from Amy Poehler's new book to "Orange is the New Black" to this little book titled "Who Moved My Cheese?"

"Who Moved My Cheese" is one of those skinny, simply written books that gets handed to company managers to get them inspired about leadership and direction. (You can see an animated version of the book here.) I picked it up after a friend recommended it to my fiancé. Seeing "an amazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life" written on the cover seemed to speak to me.

It tells the story of two mice and two "little people" living in maze. "Cheese" is the metaphor for whatever you want in life -- success, love, a job, or, what spoke to me the most, "spiritual peace of mind." The maze is "Where you look for what you want."

You get to see how the mice, Sniff and Scurry, and the little people, Hem and Haw, react to change when their stock of cheese disappears. Judging by the characters' names, you may predict how each reacts. 

I'm a hem and haw type when it comes to change. As someone who tends to overanalyze and overthink, I never jump into change. I'm always worried I'll make a decision I'll regret. That sometimes results in me never making the  decision at all. But this book made me realize that change isn't always a bad thing. And if the change turns out alright, well, then you'll be fine.

Lessons from the book really stood out to me. Things as simple as "change happens," "monitor change," "adapt to change quickly," and "be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again and again" started to make sense. 

The book also taught me that once change is necessary, it isn't always the best choice to hem and haw over what to do next. Just do what you need to do! It also taught me not to make plans based on my "cheese," or whatever I'm after. Things will change and I need to be ready to face that. I also learned the importance of moving on when it's obvious things will not change on their own.

Change isn't something I should be afraid of. It's something I should (carefully) embrace. It's not as if one day I'll love change, but maybe I won't be so anxious about it, especially once I realize most change is out of my control. I just have to adapt and do the best I can.

These are lessons I wish I would have known years ago. But I guess if I had known it all back then it wouldn't make nearly as much sense now.

So for now, I'll take my changes in small doses. Those small doses are more than I would have done before. And I'll learn to actually handle those changes properly.

All that matters right now is that I make small changes to find peace within myself. I think everything else should work out just fine, one change at a time.

"When you move beyond the fear, you feel free."