Most of us strive for something better. It is in our DNA to want to improve our lot in life. Significant improvements that require a lot of time and resources are seldom easy. These transitions more closely represent a journey requiring many steps to find success and not a simple event.

A critical step to consider when traversing a major life transition is to understand that it is just as important to identify what you need to leave behind as it is to identify what you are striving to obtain.

When it comes to change, there are two types of people: those who embrace change and those who deplore it. Regardless of which type of person you are, it is likely you will travel the journey of change. The fact is that you have already faced it. When did you shed your bicycle training wheels? Do you remember the first time you dove into the deep-end of the pool? Have you quit a good job for the hopes of a better one? Each experience requires some degree of risk. Unfortunately, the greater our aversion to risk, the tighter we hold on to the things we think will keep us safe or comfortable. Successful change often requires that we let go of some old relic of our past.

This process of shedding the “old”, or letting go of the past, can be very challenging. The “old” represents yesterday and can include a wide variety of icons, objects, artifacts, securities, positions, safe places, and associations. Many people never discover their new opportunities because they are not willing to risk abandoning the safety or comfort of yesterday. The old rarely allows room for the new.

Think back to the last time you went shopping for a new suit coat from a department store. You perused different coats as the sales clerk highlighted each style and color. You zero in on something you like signaling the clerk to ask, “Why don’t you take off your jacket and try it on?”  Without much thought, you shed your old jacket and try on the new one. Making major transitions require the same process. The old must give way to the new. Without shedding the old, the new will never fit right.

Major transitions of this nature are often times forced upon us by other people or circumstances. We do not always get the opportunity to pick our transitions. We can only prepare for them by avoiding the temptation to hold too tightly to those things that are not permanent. It is important considering whether or not you are clinging to something that represents an old jacket in your life that is holding you back from the journey you need or desire to take.

We need to remember history and build on our accomplishments. We just cannot live in the past in a way that robs us of our best future. We need to take the step of self-examination and see if there is something that is holding us back.

What types of things do you find the most difficult to shed when moving forward?

Take This Step When Moving Forward

2 thoughts on “Take This Step When Moving Forward

  • Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the post. Our life has been turned upside down in more ways than should fit into our years. Change has been inevitable. Brad Widstrom, professor at Denver Seminary, volunteered with my wife and I in a ministry for a time and shared a story with us of a friend who quit a safe, secure, and very well paid position in finance go into ministry because he and his wife decided they had to choose between being bored (and safe and secure) and being scared (not safe and secure, but not boring!).

    We’ve found that doing the right thing is usually not boring. It usually is scary and risky and unknown. We’ve come to embrace the scary choices for significant life changes – once we discover what the most right thing to do is…. which can take a good deal of time, thought, advice, and prayer.

    “When it comes to change, there are two types of people: those who embrace change and those who deplore it.”

    I’ve found that a lot of people just like the concept of change. Every politician (even incumbents now) run on change. I know others who always prefer what is fully known and comfortable and don’t want that threatened.

    Aside from moral decisions when there’s a clear right vs. wrong, shouldn’t the questions be: What is to be gained by the change? What will be lost by the change?

    Something is _always_ lost in a change. Some times it’s something we shouldn’t have jettisoned; sometimes the old shouldn’t left behind just because it’s old.

    Certainly we can hold onto things from the past when we’re dragging the carcass of an old good. But some times the good of the past is euthanized in the name of something new and shiny. The familiarity of the old and the glamor of change are very distracting from the worth of both.

    1. I appreciate your thoughtful and insightful comments.

      I want to add a comment on how people approach change. Based upon my work on the topic of intrinsic motivation, I find some people naturally embrace change. I would roughly estimate at least 20% despise it.

      Finally, regarding your example of the family that gave up the safe world of finance and entered the scary world of ministry. I propose that the reverse is more scary.

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