Friday, 1 July 2011

Do Something Different

One of my favourite sayings is “if you keep doing what you’ve always done you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got”. It’s not just that I kind of have to think about it every time I hear it (so I can get my head around it) but I just love the way it’s such a universal concept, one saying fits all situations.

There’s a great episode of Friends (OK they’re all great) where Ross’ new years resolution is to do something new every day. One day he decides to try leather trousers. He has a total disaster date thanks to his trousers but his little son draws a picture of him dressed as a cowboy in his leather trousers, which makes it all worthwhile. Just goes to show that doing something different may not always work out, but something good will usually come of it.

I have to admit to being a bit of an adrenaline junkie as far as change is concerned. There’s nothing I like more than a good house move, new baby or change of career to get the adrenaline pumping and blow away the cobwebs. Trying new things revives me, and thinking about the possibilities of the unknown is a real thrill.

But it’s easy for me, the adrenaline junkie, to simply say “go out and do something different”. I get that there is comfort in doing what we’ve always done, the outcome is predictable. It might not be what we want it to be, but at least we know what will happen and can prepare for it.

We also reach a point in life where sweeping changes aren’t so simple. Suddenly there are other people and other factors to consider. Packing up and living abroad means taking kids out of school, and what about the mortgage?

So maybe drastically “doing something different” is impossible, and doing a 180 is just not practical. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t make smaller changes and see big differences.

After having each son I had period of time when I was very overweight, but continued to do nothing and eat everything. “I’m so fat” I would wail to whoever listened, spraying cake crumbs and wiping fallen cream off my (still maternity 6 months post pregnancy) top. One day I thought of the “if you keep doing…” phrase and I decided to do something different and change my habits. I am now fitter than I ever was pre-pregnancy, and back into clothes I haven’t been able to wear for five years. The benefits of more exercise and eating less crap far outweigh how hard it was to do something different.

The happiest people I know are the ones with their fingers in lots of different pies, and who aren’t afraid to try something new. My best friend, a single mum with a 2 year old to support, has recently started her own business and has plans to start another one, the mans oldest friend has his finger in lots of different business pies and his wife is not only about to make a major career move but recently took on learning to play the guitar. These people, and many others in my life, inspire me because they don’t just keep doing what they’ve always done.

Then there are our kids. As a rule, kids are generally happy little things. They lives are constantly changing, whether it’s a new class every year (or the move from preschool to the next “big” school), trying a new activity or that irritating way they like one food one week then despise it the next. Most kids aren’t set in their ways and are completely open to new ideas (even if they don’t realise they are). Maybe we can learn from them.

Making changes requires bravery, self belief and maybe a little of the thirst for the unknown that children seem to have. And we all have those things, if we just dig a little deeper to find them.

If I manage to teach my kids one thing I hope it will be that they can be whoever they want to be, get whatever they want, do whatever they like, as long as they’re willing to put the work in. Putting the work in doesn’t just mean getting your head down and doing it, but also being open to new ideas and being brave enough to put your ideas into practice.

Doing something even slightly differently can reap big rewards. Trying a new shower gel with a different fragrance might have a big impact on your day, if you’re into smelly stuff. Or trying tea instead of coffee, or a new class at the gym, or just phoning someone up that you haven’t spoken to for ages because you always text.

If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got. Think about it.

OK maybe this is all self help “clap trap”. We all know I’m a sucker for it. But don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Hey, it could be your something different to do today.

1 comment:

  1. Loving it beth :)
    I can't stand ppl moaning and groaning about how crap there life is without being prepared to do anything about, your right little changes here and there can lead to big changes that can really open up lots of opportunity positive things. The future hasn't been written yet, always like to think anythings possible....