There once was a man being interviewed by someone he knew. The credentials he was applying for had a fairly new requirement requiring him to abstain from tobacco use. When the interviewer got to that question and was told that he no longer used tobacco, he smiled and said, “That is great news. When did you quit?” The response to that question has helped me many times in my life. The man looked the interviewer straight in the eye and responded, “Just now.”
The man passed the interview because he chose right then and there to change. He did not go through a trial period in which he tried to see if he was ready to quit, or have to prove himself. Nope, when he said that he no longer used tobacco, it was 100% true. He had created a new person instantaneously. It doesn’t mean he didn’t crave the drug, but in his heart, he was a committed non-tobacco user. He qualified.
One of the happiest seasons of my life (thus far) was when I set the only New Year’s resolution I think I’ve stuck with. I committed to my Lord that I would read from the scriptures every single day. The results were astonishing! Not because I was blessed, I had hoped for that, but because I was immediately filled with joy. I felt like telling God, “Wait, I haven’t even proved myself yet. Why are you flooding my life with blessings and joy for only a few days’ worth of scripture reading? I’ve done that lots of times.” After pondering that question, I discovered the answer: I wasn’t being blessed for a few days effort, but for becoming a daily scripture reader. Like the man in the story, I had instantaneously changed.
How is it done?
I know the true answer to be because of faith and the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ to change hearts. Some people might not accept that answer, so I’m going to try and work through a more politically correct one.
Although you cannot choose to be in any circumstance, you can choose who you want to be. I can’t choose to be a CEO of a billion-dollar company, but I can put myself in that successful business mindset. I can start studying the field I wish to enter and hunt for the right opportunity.
Decide who you want to be
This is your first quest. We all have tons of things we wish we were better at. They range from patience to accurate basketball throwing. You need to choose something that you want so badly that you are willing to change who you are to obtain it. It seems silly that just a week ago, I was unwilling to trade in a poor listener version of myself and get someone who has strong communication with my spouse, children, and friends, but when situations come up, something inside of me just didn’t want to let go of my identity.
Decide that you are changed
Once you are determined, decide right then an there that you are changed. It will take constant effort for a while, mostly in the form of reminding yourself that you are the new person, but you can start living the life as a new being immediately!
What if you can’t imagine the new person in your life?
Sometimes it is hard and takes imagination. No matter what you are trying to change, a thoughtful visualization of the resulting person will really help. Maybe think to yourself, “If the specific person I want to be were dropped into this life I’m living, what would they do?” If you’ve ever seen the movie “Heaven Can Wait” (1978) you know that a professional athlete can have a winner mindset even if dropped into the body of an old, rich, hated man.
As hinted at earlier, I used this technique to become a listener. With my husband, I often jumped ahead to what I thought he meant instead of listening. Efficiency is always a top priority in my mind. It turns out, I wasn’t always right and even when I was, it didn’t make him feel important. With my children, I have struggled since baby #2 with breaking from what I am doing to look them in the eyes and actually listen. Sometimes my daughter will tell me all about her pretend situation and I will respond, “sounds fun!” only for her to correct me and retell me that her brother was eaten by a pretend monster. Other times, I realize my potty training son has been telling me for the last 10 minutes that he needs the light on to go potty.
On Sunday, after a particularly bad listener Saturday, I decided to make the change. I sat down and wrote the first half of this post and became the new person. I don’t really have any great stories to tell about the experience except that it works! It is taking less effort each day. It even has allowed me to be more in tune with the unspoken stuff.
What are YOU going to become?