Here’s a quick exercise for you. Take a selfie with your cell phone and label it “Before.” How do I know that this is your “before” picture? Because change is coming in your life.
You might know what’s coming. It could be the book you’re writing, the goal you’re working toward at work, the new degree, the new child, or a million other things. Or you might not know what’s coming. Life has no shortage of surprises for us. But something’s going to change.
This might be the time before you get a raise, before you make a new friend, or before you get an unexpected day off. Whatever is coming might be large or small. But change is all around us, all the time.
When we look back, we can easily define the before/after moments that affected us the most. Before we learned to read; before we learned to drive; before we got married. And of course, there’s the before and after of all of our family and friends. Before my child was born; before she graduated college; before she bought her first house.
While it’s easy to identify these points after the fact, you can also tune in as life progresses. How is life going for you right now? How about work? And family and hobbies? All those things are going to involve change in the next year. If nothing else, start a “now” journal or a “before” journal and take stock.
It can be very exciting to be self-aware when you’re in the middle of change. So often, we let life happen to us. But if you know you’re in the before time and you choose to tune in to it, you don’t have to be passive. If you tune into change, you can choose to mold that change and affect what it looks like.
One very common way we do this is to create some ceremony around change. We have graduation paries, give greeting cards, and take friends to dinner. We acknowledge certain points in our lives.
The only real difference between responding to change and affecting change is that we choose to do one or the other. We all play both roles, depending on the circumstances.
I encourage you to use some morning quiet time to take stock of how things are going in your life. And then speculate what “after” is going to look like. After all, the more you spend time thinking about it, the more you’ll be able to influence it.