Big Change Requires Small Steps
A reflection on the pandemic
On a cold winter’s evening a few years ago my partner and I settled down on the sofa with a pizza and a glass of wine ready to watch a movie. As usual we could not agree what to watch, he favoured a war film, I fancied a chick flick. After what seemed like an age of trying to agree on a title we would both enjoy, we compromised on a Steven Spielberg movie, you kind of just know it will be good.
The film was called ‘Contagion’, a fictional movie set in China and the U.S. about a deadly virus breaking out and rapidly spreading across the world. The World Health Organisation and leading medics raced to try to control the spread of the virus and find a cure, countries all over the world battled to control the panic that spread faster than the virus itself. Ordinary people struggled for survival as society started to fall apart.
I remember feeling a little disturbed by the life changing potential of such a virus, but I assumed that if it were to happen it would probably happen somewhere else, far from my daily life. The risk was low - I could ignore it.
We agreed it was a good film, switched the TV off and pretty much forgot all about it.
Today we are living through a frighteningly similar dramatic event. Horrific numbers of people are dying across the world, global fear, emotional turmoil and new restrictions have created a radical change in our lives. This time I cannot just turn off the TV, go to bed and hope it will go away.
This was not my plan for 2020; I had a holiday booked, family events to hold, training courses to attend, places to go, music concerts to see and theatre trips to enjoy. I had a whole vision of how the year was going to be…. Now all gone.
Suddenly everything seemed to be out of control, COVID-19 forced a sequence of events upon us all, that we we could not fight against.
It is easy to understand why many people are now feeling overwhelmed, anxious and totally out of control.
To move forwards we need to accept that life is changing, things are not the same for us, things are not how we planned. Life has changed. Often the difference between someone who is coping well with the changes and someone who is struggling with change is not one’s superior ability, but the courage that one has to take steady steps forward. Understanding what is happening all around us and to us, requires us to stop, take stock, analyse, understand, reflect and make decisions to adapt to the changes in our lives.
Not every event in our life is our fault, but the impact they have on life is our responsibility. A combination of our decisions and external factors for which we had no control have brought us to where we are in the world today. Negatively blaming someone else, or some other circumstance, will change nothing. Positively taking full responsibility for our situation and our path forward can change everything
Maybe now is the time we all need to make changes in our lives in order for us to move forward, but many of us are clinging to the way things were, refusing to let go of what we understood as ‘normal’.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Are you waiting for the time to be right to make changes to your life, to re-plan? There is no such thing as the perfect time, it will never come. If you think that this moment feels like the wrong time, think again, it’s just uncertainty messing with your mind. Most of the time you must dare to jump, the only question is which direction do you jump? Right now is the right time to decide to take a small step towards the edge.
Living is about learning as you go, living is a risky business. Every decision, every interaction, every step, every time you get out of bed in the morning you take a small risk.
Truly living is being in this moment, fully accepting of life as it is, to know you are getting up, to know that you are taking that risk and to trust yourself to take it.
To not get out of bed, clinging to illusions of safety, is to die slowly without ever having truly lived.
Every moment of your life builds upon the next. This moment is the bridge between the reality of where you are and the vision of where you want to be. Reality is approaching you every second and the great thing is, you’re able to alter it as it arrives. You just have to decide what you want to do with it.
The greatest of all mistakes is to do nothing simply because you can only do a little. In fact, it is far more productive to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a giant leap only to stumble and fall and never get up again. The path to every goal requires a hundred small steps – one after the other.
Change often requires some level of effort and struggle, so don’t do what’s easy, do what you are capable of, all the while offering kindness and compassion towards yourself. It might not always go smoothly, we might stumble and fall, but that’s okay, don’t expect perfection.
So, it’s time to stop hoping 2020 will go back to our original plans, and it’s time to start moving forward. Whether it means adapting our work life, working in a new way, letting go of relationships, embracing new relationships, removing what is no longer serving us in our lives, trying something new or making drastic life changes, let’s take a step towards this now. Move in its general direction, with knowing, with awareness and feel the progression. Even if you have already taken your own steps, maybe you could help someone else take theirs?
We can watch a movie or watch the news, in the full knowing and acceptance that we don’t have control, we cannot control everything. But we do have the ability to make changes, to take responsibility for our own life, we can stop clinging to what we knew as normal and take small steps forward to the new normal. We can move on.
For me, this Friday evening, I think i’ll watch a chick flick!