With 2024 just a hop, skip and a jump away, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m hoping for in the new year. Thinking about these goals means change. Changing what I’ve been doing, so I can get different results.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.”
This quote and similar ones have been attributed to many people, including Jessie Potter, Jackie “Moms” Mabley and Albert Einstein. We may never know the truth of exactly who said exactly what, but the essence of this quote resonates with many people.
It all comes down to change. We can’t keep repeating what we’ve done in the past, if we want something new in the future.
When I was young, I remember always hearing people say, “People don’t change.” The older that I’ve gotten, I’ve come to realize that there is a lot of nuance to this saying with a few themes.
You Can’t Make People Change
One level of the saying that people don’t change is sort of true. What is most true would be to say, “You can’t make people change.” This is so absolutely painfully true. No matter how much we try and want to change someone, if they aren’t willing, there is nothing we can do.
We have to learn to let it go and maybe they can decide to change on their own. Whether we want to wait around and see if they change is up to each individual. Depending on what changes are needed and how they impact our lives, it might be best to make a change of our own and remove ourselves from their life.
Life Will Change You
In a way, it’s rather quaint to think that people don’t change. Even if we don’t want to change, things will happen to us over time that we could never expect. Accidents, illness and time will change us. They will definitely change our physical bodies.
Nobody stays young forever. Even if you are lucky enough to never deal with any accidents or illness, if you live to be 85 years old, your body will be different than when you are 35 years old. There will be many changes.
If you win the lottery, get a big promotion, get married and have children, you will change. The circumstances of your life will be different and usually it’s impossible to stay the same. A “new you” will be born. Our minds and ways of thinking will change and we adapt.
This reminds me of a post that I saw recently on Arielle Lorre‘s Instagram. I don’t follow her, so this just randomly came up in my feed and was quite serendipitous. Because I can be a worrier and need to find ways to stop. Below is what she says.
“I had a clinical psychologist on my podcast, who shared the best advice for worry that I’ll never forget. She said, ‘The version of you that will handle that tough thing – if or when it happens – will be born into existence in that moment … trust your future self to handle future problems.'”
The comments on her Instagram post are mixed. Some believe it and others say that sometimes that future self cannot handle those problems and are broken by them. I can’t argue with them, because sometimes life is too much and people literally die.
But also, sometimes we do rise to meet seemingly impossible circumstances. Over the past few years, I’ve dealt with a lot more than I thought I could. At 59 years old, I am a very different person than I was at 29 years old. That version of me was not ready to handle what I’ve handled over the past few years. And I’m so glad that she didn’t have to.
Live & Learn
This is sort of similar to life changing you. Through our life experiences we learn new things and sometimes realize that we were wrong. Maybe we were wrong about lots of things and can’t do much or anything to change the past. If we can seek forgiveness and make amends for what we’ve done, maybe we should, depending on what that entails. But that is very hard and can cause pain for ourselves and maybe others too.
Sometimes all we can do is accept what we’ve done and strive to do better in the future. I think this is something that most of us will go through at one time or another. If we weren’t the one that did wrong, we may have been the one who was wronged. Then we have to decide how to proceed if someone apologizes and seeks forgiveness from us.
We get to decide how to move forward. It took me a long time to truly realize that I’m the boss of me and act accordingly. I wish that I had known sooner. It now seems obvious. But over the years, I’ve realized how often I did not behave like I was the boss of my life.
I’m glad that I’ve had the ability to self-reflect, keep learning and change — often on my own terms. I’m grateful for what my past self was able to do to get me to the present. And I’ll trust in my future self to handle the rest.