Nothing Changes Until Something Changes

Migration - 265/365
Creative Commons License photo credit: tranchis


It continues to amaze me how much our everyday choices affect our home, work, relationships, health and ultimately our life. So many things in the world are out of our control.

Yet just as many are within it:

We don’t have control over how another person drives but we decide if we get in the car with them.

We don’t have control over someone else’s anger. We decide if we want that person in our life.

We don’t have control over the weather. We decide where we live.

We don’t have control over the price of gas. We decide what type of car we drive and how much gas we use.

We don’t have control over the final decision on who becomes President of the USA. We choose how we think and speak about him and weather or not we support him.

Working isn’t a choice for most of us yet we choose what type of work, our work place and attitude towards work.

We don’t decide who are next door neighbors are yet we choose to get along with them or not or move.

As adults we choose what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat.

We have no control over our nation’s health plan yet we choose to exercise and eat healthy or not.

We can’t control many life events yet we decide how we react, if we want support and how to deal with stress.

So many things about our children’s behavior are out of our control. We decide what kind of role models to be and what consequences we give.

We each have the same amount of time. We choose what we do with it.

The New Year is creeping up on us. Is there something you want to change?

Last October I decided to cut down in every area of my spending. And I did it. I decided not to be so wasteful.

I’ve always been a bookaholic. I decided I would begin going to the library regularly instead of purchasing so many books. Check!

We lived in a very small home while raising our children. My husband and I had a shared chest of drawers for our clothing. My husband took the top 3 and I had the bottom two. We also had a very small closet. He had the left side I had the right.

Then the children left home, we had more money and I had way too many clothes. I decided I would begin wearing my clothes out. I stopped shopping so much. This was huge for me. Check!

One day I decided to calculate how much I was spending on designer coffee. Yikes! I decided I would cut that nonsense out of 2009. This was one of the more difficult habits to break.

I found when I’m under stress I head for a coffee shop. My plan was to break the habit entirely. Uncheck! Instead I cut way back.

I also wanted to do strength training regualarly. Auuggghhh! Uncheck.

Currently I do it twice a week. However when I travel I don’t do it at all. I travel a lot.

Every year I succeed in making some changes. Multiplied over my life time they’ve added up.

Some don’t believe in New Year Resolutions. That’s fine. You don’t have too. We’re free to make our choices and changes any day of the year.

What changes have you made over the past year?
What would you change if you knew you would succeed?
What change in your life are you the most proud of?

What do you want differently for 2010?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lance November 5, 2009, 9:51 am

    Hi Tess,
    There may be a lot of things that we can’t control, but there are so many things we can – always including our attitude.

    I’m not ready to give up my coffee yet, either!

    I recall how the year 2009 started for me, and how I started it all off with a focus on one word – courage. How could I courageously step out from the comfort zone I was in, and really venture into unknown waters. I think I have, in many ways. And I’ve reflected upon that choice of the word “courage” and how just publicly stating it back in January has made a real and lasting difference. I’m also sure I could do better – still, though, I’ve really found myself stepping into the unknown time and time again – and that being a good place to be – as challenging as the steps seemed at times.
    .-= Lance´s last post…RAOKA: Kindness =-.

  • Hilary November 5, 2009, 10:01 am

    Hi Tess .. like you I’d love to do things and have high aims and goals, also the necessities like exercise .. fortunately there are many things I still do quite happily instilled as a child – however the illness of my mother and uncle have ‘deprived me of my time’ but I give/gave it willingly and have no regrets .. just need some balance. I am going forward as I have more time now my uncle has passed on – just still adjusting to my own needs, but they creep up!

    I would like 2010 to be ‘my year’ .. and am moving towards that direction, while still including my mother and her needs in my daily time frame – I’d like to be ‘free’ and organised when her time comes .. so I can move on and not collapse under the loss of my mother – I think I will.

    So my changes are ahead of me .. meditation, exercise, more reading, comprehending social media etc .. moving my blog, and moving that learning curve on with a new project ..

    Good luck with your strength exercising!?

    We do choose … thanks for reminding us – Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories
    .-= Hilary´s last post…Rough Diamonds and Baroque Pearls …. =-.

  • Jeff@MySuperChargedLife November 5, 2009, 10:06 am

    Change is certainly hard for us. I don’t do resolutions anymore, but instead I pick three words that define a theme for my life over the coming year. I find this approach to be much more valuable. It is easier to stay mindful of just three words and it is broad enough that I don’t end up feeling like a failure every year.
    .-= Jeff@MySuperChargedLife´s last post…Win a Free iPod nano and Help a Great Charity! =-.

  • Positively Present November 5, 2009, 10:43 am

    You’ve definitely gotten me thinking about what I want to change…. Thanks for inspiring me to give it some thought.
    .-= Positively Present´s last post…kicking ass with kindness =-.

  • Julie November 5, 2009, 10:46 am

    Tess, I love this post. 🙂

    Yes, everything you describe and explain can be reduced to the simple fact that every single instance of our lives determine what our lives look and feel like. We wake up each morning and decide how we’re going to “dress” our lives. Not only does this apply to material things, but it applies to our emotions and behaviors as well. Every single moment requires us to make a choice—this? or that? which shall I choose?—and in this way, WE are the ones, the only ones, who determine what life we live. Whenever we turn around and look behind us, at times passed and decisions made, and then look forward at the track we’re on, we can clearly see we are the only ones responsible for the state we’re in, whether state of mind, emotional state, or physical placement and well-being. We are the shapers and determiners of our lives. There is no such thing as, ” ‘they’ made me do it.”

    Because of this, I don’t make traditional resolutions or even promises to myself. Instead, I choose to focus (or try to focus!), each day, on the quality of person I want to be, in all my circumstances, and then let that be the pot at the end of my rainbow. Of course, like you and Lance, I also include those specifics that help direct me toward the person I want to be. For instance, as an example, I realize that if I drink too much coffee, I become jittery and on edge (causing me to become frazzled, unorganized, and even a little bitchy) and it can even give me bad breath (making me VERY persona non grata). 😉 Soooo…. I try to eliminate it from my list of habits. So far, I’m doing pretty well. 😉
    .-= Julie´s last post…More in Love Than Usual: Celebrating Fall =-.

  • Karl Staib - Work Happy Now November 5, 2009, 10:52 am

    The changes that I’ve made over the last year have been huge. I’ve been kinder to myself. If I make a mistake I look at the big picture and realize that I tried my best. No reason to beat myself up.

    The change I want to make in 2010 is to use my blog to help more people work happy. I want to talk to organizations and help them become truly happy inside and out.
    .-= Karl Staib – Work Happy Now´s last post…5 STEPS to Success =-.

  • Lori November 5, 2009, 11:19 am

    Hi Tess,

    When I read you post I kind of laughed; not at your post directly but because just yesterday I was beginning to dread the coming of the ‘holiday season’ that is quickly followed by NEW YEAR’s and resolutions. I quickly changed my thoughts feeling overwhelmed and not particularly equipped to deal with next year.

    I feel I set myself up to fail when I’ve tried to make resolutions, to be honest. But, when I try to make little changes throughout the year, I do better. (Congrats on all your positive changes, by the way, awesome stuff!)

    As for changes this year, quite a lot has changed but these changes were not by choice (all related to my MS). I’m getting used to them, more so every day.

    Now for your other questions…
    What would you change if you knew you would succeed?
    This is a hard one, but I’d stop biting my nails (ugh, did I really say that in public!! How embarrassing!).
    What change in your life are you the most proud of?
    Not being afraid to share my life with someone else – my husband. (Huge accomplishment for me.)
    What do you want differently for 2010?
    I’d love to have my health back 100%, but since that may not be an option, I want to feel more at peace.

    Well, I guess that’s it! Thanks for a great, thought-provoking post, Tess!
    ~xo
    .-= Lori´s last post…Random Acts of Kick Arse: Update =-.

  • suzenj November 5, 2009, 11:24 am

    Hi Tess!
    Well isn’t this a snappy little thought provoking get moving post! Love it!!! You betcha there is lots we cannot control! The more we get that, the less time and energy spent either fighting it or whining about it!

    I’ve made some huge changes this year – won’t bore you with details, but suffice to say I’ve been very discerning about where and with whom I spend my energy. I’ve become way more hermit like and I love it! I spent more time with ME and lo and behold discovered a lot I really LIKED. It’s been a good thing. Used to be I felt I had to “belong” to a bunch of things – art leagues, clubs etc. and I find now that I don’t, I don’t miss them at all. I’m saving gas driving around, saving time I can spend writing, and ya know what? I don’t think anyone realizes I’m not there – things just keep going on. I may have sold myself a bill of goods saying these things were important when in fact it turns out to be a distraction/excuse to not have the time to write. That busy-ness helped me avoid it – so I couldn’t fail if I didn’t do it. Still sorting this thru but it’s been huge!
    .-= suzenj´s last post…DO BE a DO BE =-.

  • andrea November 5, 2009, 12:36 pm

    love this post! and i love how i have changed my attitude towards my work in the past year, and how that has opened up new possibilities and opportunities for me. more of the same for 2010 🙂
    .-= andrea´s last post…let’s all live happily ever after 2010 calendar giveaway =-.

  • vered | blogger for hire November 5, 2009, 1:12 pm

    I agree that in many cases, we have more control over our situation than we realize.
    .-= vered | blogger for hire´s last post…Stupid Beauty Trends =-.

  • Peggy November 5, 2009, 2:16 pm

    Tess –

    Things I’d like to change

    1. The clutter in my home – my husband is a pack rat and we live in a modest 1638 sq ft home. I once had a two car garage and an empty basement. When we got married and joined two households together, well…can you image the STUFF? Downsizing and decluttering is HIGH on my list of things to tackle over the coming months and before he deploys to the the Middle East next August.

    2. I am a bookaholic. I’m going to have to take a lesson from you and see if I can quit this habit. For the three years in between marriages, I was a DVD-aholic, but I kicked that habit!

    3. I re-vamped my eating habits and lost 13 pounds. I’ve been resting in maitenance mode (not losing, not gaining) but I’ve got at least another 10 to go…time to get crackin’

    4. My work situation. That has been high on my list of things to change. Until the writing career / yoga teaching / marital arts teaching things take off, the best I can do is simply change my attitude.

    5. The change I’m most proud of? Marrying the love of my life 🙂

    6. What I want for 2010 is to do more with less.
    .-= Peggy´s last post…Emotionally Intelligent Advertising =-.

  • Wilma Ham November 5, 2009, 3:34 pm

    I have made heaps of changes this last year. Moved away from the city and I am learning to live away from it all without feeling I am missing out on whatever I was afraid of to miss out on.
    But the biggest challenge is to be peaceful and to learn to trust. THAT is so huge for me. Normally I always prepare and keep a safety net ready.
    When in the city I would spend energy on that, keeping in touch with my professional world in case I need to get employment to get extra money.
    Keeping an eye on what is in the shop in case I need presents and I miss sales, that kind of thing. It is very time consuming to prepare a safety net for a future that I might get and I would not have chosen.
    Now I am letting go of that, I am choosing to concentrate on what I am doing now and I am choosing to work hard on learning to trust that it all will work out. Man oh man, that IS hard work, so you can see I need an anti worry bracelet as you mentioned when you were a guest writer on Peggy’s blog.

    So I am choosing to let go of old living habits that do not serve me and choosing to learn new life skills and to trust and to fully concentrate on what I am doing and to NOT prepare a safety net in the way I was used to.
    I now am depositing in the iniversal favor bank.
    That I am choosing this is what I am most proud of as that will really let me die fulfilled.
    I love you, my friend because you had me declare this boldly, Wilma
    .-= Wilma Ham´s last post…Ann-Marie on Listening that Makes a Difference =-.

  • Joy November 5, 2009, 3:51 pm

    Tess,
    As the new year began, I realized that I needed to make a lot of changes in my life. I do better with “adding” changes rather than “taking away” something. For instance I’d rather run an extra lap than take away my chocolate cake:) So, I made a “dream book” listing all I’d like to accomplish in the year–challenging myself to do new and different things, or sometimes to experience things I enjoy in a different way. My “dream book” had everything from try this restaurant I’d heard of, to eating sushi once a month at a different restaurant with different people, to outrageously big like open a healing shop. The actual doing of it all enriched my life in more ways than I could have imagined. There were times I challenged myself to step outside of my comfort zone, times I realized that the intention behind the goal was no longer suitable so it was okay to cross it off, there were some small things that led to huge doors opening up. Interestingly, I managed to accomplish some of the bigger fantastical things, and found that some of the little most doable items are those I hadn’t even considered in a while. I’ve already started my “dream book” for next year. And I’m very excited about it.
    .-= Joy´s last post…Forward………. =-.

  • Patty - Why Not Start Now? November 5, 2009, 5:53 pm

    Hi Tess – How timely! I was just thinking about this today. Reading about swine flu, getting freaked out, then suddenly stepping back and saying, “Okay, what do I truly have control over?” It immediately made a difference. So for me, just that would be a worthy goal for 2010 – staying conscious of that which is in my control, letting the rest of it go. (Oh, and I also want to stop reading the news, online or in the paper. I’ve come to believe its purpose lately is simply to promote doom and gloom).
    .-= Patty – Why Not Start Now?´s last post…Dancing Around the Living Room =-.

  • Sandy November 5, 2009, 6:08 pm

    Lost 12 pounds and need to get back on track and take a little more off. In 2010 I need to keep up the fitness routine, meditate more, become more proficient at yoga. This year I stepped out of my comfort zone to travel by myself and I would like to continue to look for adventures. My mantra is “This is the best decade of my life – so far.”

  • Evita November 5, 2009, 7:48 pm

    Hi Tess

    I cannot tell you how much I loved what you said about what we can and cannot control. This is one of the exact messages I live with and try to share with others, but you have laid it out as usual in that awesome clear, quick and concise to the point way of yours! How awesome!

    Yes, yes, yes – we do have choices, more than people realize!

    I am glad you have reflected upon what you wanted to change and followed through with how you did. This is so important to do I think if we as human beings are ever to evolve and keep growing, not standing still.

    The biggest thing for me is like you to incorporate more resistance training into my life, and exercise in the winter period. So hard to go out when it is cold, but I have choices! And I am definitely willing to exercise them (ha no pun intended) instead of sit back, fold my arms and feel helpless 😉
    .-= Evita´s last post…Evolving Being In Action: Marcomé =-.

  • Keith November 5, 2009, 8:11 pm

    Hello Tess!

    What a great post! I don’t usually do the new year resolution thing but I do push for change all year!

    I love how you pointed out that while we cannot control some things we certainly can control many. I also believe that much of our attitude is related not to what happens to us, but rather how we PERCEIVE what happens to us. We definitely have that choice under our control.

    Thanks for another thought provoking article Tess!
    .-= Keith´s last post…Random Acts Of Kindness! =-.

  • Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord November 6, 2009, 6:17 am

    A list – I love your lists! I especially like how you pointed out the power we have to choose. Sometimes I don’t let myself see all the options, and I fall prey to the “this stinks” syndrome because I think it’s all there is. Then someone comes along and reminds me that there are other options – sides I didn’t see and choices to be made. Huzzah!

    I also love how honest you were about where you stood strong, and where you faltered a little bit this year. It shows how wonderfully human you are, and lets me relate to you in a deeper way (thank you).

    For me, going into 2010, I’d like to find a FUN way of earning money and a place to do so that (as Jodi at Joy Discovered said), “…is loads of fun and in need of a zany, book publishing, blog writing, intuitive, minimalist, 2-hour a day exercise junky…” !!! Surely there’s a place like that, right?!! I’m keeping an eye out, and have already turned down one offer that did NOT sound like fun (seemed more like a prison sentence).

    I’ve also been thinking that maybe I’m one of those people that contracted (before incarnating) to be single for the rest of my life. Maybe, just maybe, I need to accept that my life as it is – living alone, writing, spending time with friends who are like family since family is so far away – is exactly how I intended it from the start. And if that’s the case, I need to begin celebrating singledom.

    Happy Friday, Tess!
    .-= Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord´s last post…$1 Therapy (Awesome Free e-Book) =-.

  • janice November 6, 2009, 8:44 am

    Great post, Tess. I’ve tried to embrace this approach since reading Steven Covey’s 7 habits years ago (my kids know what we mean when we ask them if something’s within their Circle of Control) but I haven’t always been successful.

    I’ve had to start choosing to drink less coffee, too. (It could be contributing to my mineral malabsorption problem and bouts of anaemia and the blues.) It’s only one factor, but it’s one I can attempt to control. I’ve managed to get down to one full caff coffee a day, one half caff and the rest decaff, but I’m so addicted to going to cafés (I write and people watch as well as drinking coffee) that I started drinking weak watery tea and mugs of hot chocolate just to get my café fix. 🙁

    Someone took issue with me recently when I said that we can choose happiness and decide to be happy, but this post is an example of what I meant. All of those decisions to control the things that lead to well-being are drops that fill the ocean, not a huge quick fix – although deciding to be grateful is the biggest quick fix I know! I’ve had three loved ones spend decades in a wheelchair so I can vouch for the fact that gratitude makes you glow serenely.

    Thanks, Tess!
    .-= janice´s last post…A Patchwork Post: Writing Tips, Christmas Tips and Susan Boyle… =-.

  • Tess November 6, 2009, 10:39 am

    Lance,
    I remember you taking that word and yes you sure have integrated it into your life. We all need to keep growing but it’s important to pause and appreciate your progress along the way. Hey you want to meet for coffee and celebrate?!?

    Hillary,
    You been so committed to your family I believe you’ll be celebrating your loss in a happy way. I hope and pray this is YOUR year as well. You’re an example for all on how to take care of our loved ones in their final years. Your love and dedication is what life is for. You’ll have blessings raining down on you!

    Jeff,
    It’s sounds like you found what works best for yourself. I wish three words for you…Peace, Joy and Happiness in 2010! Thanks for stopping by.

    Dani,
    You’re welcome to stop by for inspiration anytime! You do the same for me.

    Julie,
    Thanks for the long note! I love the analogy about dressing up our lives moment to moment in more ways than one. Oh dear I’m feeling more responsible than ever! I’ll just proceed gently and head towards the light with fun, joy and laughter. Yes I agree you do very well for yourself;)

    Karl,
    I like that you are a man on a positive mission that is so needed today. I’m on your side. Let me know how I can help!

    Lori,
    I’m laughing too and not at you…but your nails…biting…it seems so small in the huge scheme of things but if that’s what you want I support you 100%!
    That is so cool about your husband. It’s so great to walk through life hand in hand with someone you love.

    I think your MS stuff we become a hundred times more bearable now that you shared it with your readers and you have so much support. Just ask anytime and I’ll be there to listen, understand or whatever ya need.

    As for peace it will come with acceptance and again your closer than ever from what I can see. All the best to you now and in the new year. Your strength inspires me.

    Suzen,
    I hope you had fun while you were in all these clubs. If you did it’s what mattered at the time. Also happy to hear how you’ve found yourself and like yourself. Yeah! It’s the same I find myself doing. However I think I’ve become to big of a hermit. Balance my friend. Balance. Yeah to you and your journey.

    Andrea,
    I find your creativity so exciting. I can’t imagine the world without it and all those paper dolls are just fantastic. Yes yeah for us and 2010.

    Vared,
    Yes we do!

    Peggy,
    Yeah for 2010 and doing more with less. I’ve replaced shopping with hiking and am lovin’ it. It’s so peaceful, healing, exhilirating and fun!
    See you at the library!

    Wilma,
    Hugs and love back at you. It’s funny I’ve got my bracelet on and have had it on since Peggy’s blog. I’m going to take a photo and put it on my blog. What a great idea. That ought to motivate you to get one! Congrats on all the growth and changes you’ve made. I know your success will continue in the new year.

    And yes it’s hard work so be gentle on yourself and go in joy!

    Joy,
    I’ve enjoyed watching your blog for dream journal posts. It’s so exciting to see you change and grow with honest and raw emotions. We all learn to be better people through your story.

    Peggy,
    I decided 6 months ago to turn off the news and paper. Who needs it? Not me. It was getting me no where fast. So start today and that’s an order;) You have control over that you know!LOL

    Sandy,
    Good for you and traveling. Those are all big things to change so I would encourage baby steps in all and progress slowly but steady. I believe all real change is slow. It’s one reason why people who lose weight fast don’t keep it off. You go!

    Evita,
    I’m glad you like my clear, concise and quick method. That’s just how my brain works. I even try to get wordy in my comments and I’m not good at it. I’ll just continue to be myself;) See you at the gym!

    Keith,
    Yes that’s a good way to put it…our attitude isn’t about what happens to us but what we perceive that happens to us. That’s deep Keith!

    Megan,
    Oh believe me I’m very human. Ask my daughters! LOL As for singledom yes I say celebrate every moment of it while remaining open to another way. Can we change what we agree to before we incarnate and be happy? Not sure but either way I enjoy learning about your journey and it’s a joy to know you.

    Janice,
    “All of those decisions to control the things that lead to well-being are drops that fill the ocean, not a huge quick fix – although deciding to be grateful is the biggest quick fix I know!”

    This is fantastic…it better be in the book you are writing or going to write! I think we could all go through our blogs and find these gems, expand on them and magically have a book in hand within months. Wanna give it a try with me?

  • Julie November 6, 2009, 11:23 am

    Oh dear, Tess, I meant with the coffee. 🙂 The rest is always always such a work in progress! As for doing doing very well for yourself, I’d say that’s YOU! You are such an inspiration, and I’m so grateful. Hugs!
    .-= Julie´s last post…More in Love Than Usual: Celebrating Fall =-.

  • Tess November 6, 2009, 12:58 pm

    Julie,
    Not to worry. I know all about that…3 steps forward 1 step back. I want all forward steps however I can’t walk on water yet! Happy Friday!

  • Jannie Funstering November 7, 2009, 4:38 pm

    Also guilty on the coffee front, I often go for a second cup instead of a water or kelp squish.

    I totally didn’t know I had a choice of where to live — I’d hop right on over to be your next–door neighbor, Tess, my dear dear Bold Tess.

    You do. Lot of traveling??? When you stopping by Austin??

    Me, as in my Jannie self, I am thinking about changing my socks from white to ecru. And keeping on doing what I’ve been doing lately, which is taking on less to get more done. In the past year since starting to read blogs like yours, Liara Covert’s and Happy Lotus Nadia’s (just to name a few,) I have cast off my heavy load and now am down to a nice manageable back- pack

    THANK YOU!!
    .-= Jannie Funstering´s last post…Mystery Blogger “Over The Top” Meme =-.

  • Tabitha Blue November 7, 2009, 6:05 pm

    This was great, such a good challenge, and a way to really get me thinking. We’ve definitely cut way back, and are working to pay off debt and not take on ANY new debt… check! But as far as other specific goals for this next coming year, or even the next few months, I haven’t really taken the time to think about it yet. My husband is really getting his life healthy, and we are on that train with him, and I’m just working to keep a healthy pregnancy right now… but this will help me to be more deliberate in my decisions!
    🙂
    .-= Tabitha Blue´s last post…Nursery Inspiration =-.

  • Caity November 8, 2009, 3:01 pm

    Oh my goodness. I hadn’t even thought about this yet. I can’t believe that it’s almost 2010 and it’s time to think about the New Year and sum up 2009.

    What changes have you made over the past year?
    I like to think that I have grown as a person this year. I moved out of my parent’s house for the first time this year. Got married. That’s a big step.

    What would you change if you knew you would succeed?
    I am constantly changing. I am currently trying to move overseas and I know I’ll succeed with the support of my family, friends, and most importantly my husband.

    What change in your life are you the most proud of?
    I can’t pick just one. If I had to, I’d cheat and generalize, saying that I am the most proud that I have developed into the self sufficient and dependable young woman that I am.

    What do you want differently for 2010?
    I want to complete my goal of moving overseas and getting my first “real” teaching job over there.
    .-= Caity´s last post…3 Brother’s Pizza! =-.

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