A Better Life

The Clock Is Ticking. Why Is It So Hard To Change?

Get comfortable being uncomfortable; change can be worth it.

3 min
Haley S

We get one life, at least one like the one we know while on Earth. The average person lives somewhere north of seventy years. That’s 25,550 days. If we look at roughly four decades of “settled down adulthood” from 30–70, we have 14,600 days to make it count. For comparison, during these adult years, the average length of marriage in the US is somewhere around eight years (2,920 blissful days). Have a child? You’ll be raising that sweet little lemon drop to adulthood for 6,570 days. Of course parenting doesn’t stop there, and sometimes your kids will wish it stopped sooner, but those are the high-focus years. So, how do we make the most of it?

Midlife Non-Crisis

Let’s say you’re forty-five years old. You now have 9,125 days left until the average person dies. Of course, you could get twenty more years, or 7,300 days added on to that, almost double the time, so let’s just round it to 10,000 days or 1,428 weeks. What could you accomplish in 1,428 weeks? What about just the next decade — all 520 weeks of it? That’s a lot of weeks to do some pretty amazing things.

Think of all the things you would enjoy doing and get really good at in the next ten years if you practiced once a week: cooking, accounting, push-ups, knowing types of fungus, the trumpet, ancient languages, ancient grains, smiling, writing, most anything.

How about just the next fifty-two weeks? What can you get better at doing fifty-two more times? I’m going to go out on a limb and say basically everything.

Don’t Be Afraid Of Doing It

I envision so much life during the next ten years, so much texture, without the sophomoric burden of what everyone else thinks. Like a choose-your-own-adventure book, all I have to do is start moving toward what I want. So why can it be so hard to just get up every day and go head-long into it? My money is on FEAR (and also, realistically, being tired from raising those lemon drops).

Nike told us a long time ago: Just do it! Nike left out the part about how you will need to do a lot of work to figure out what you are afraid of, walk right up to it like a feisty teenager and do what you want anyway.

I see a lot of people become successful (whatever your definition) because they either don’t know they should be afraid of doing something or don’t care. Yes, this fear awareness is a spectrum of too much and not enough, so the key is to find what works, to find what level of courage helps you reach your goals. I don’t need to do extreme sports; they don’t make me happy. So I won’t spend my courage energy on that, but I do have other very achievable goals waiting for me to dig deep into the courage bucket.

Get Comfortable With Uncomfortable

I’ve been practicing making decisions and starting new things, and it’s working pretty well so far. It’s a lot of small steps and once in awhile a few, big, brave ones. But sometimes I waste time dreaming, wondering, worrying, contemplating and not doing. These pauses can be part of the process, but sometimes it’s just fear, protecting me from a primal threat of the past, or protecting me from being uncomfortable. I’m learning to recognize this feeling and look at it like an observer. I’ve also learned it’s OK to be uncomfortable. It won’t last forever, and surely won’t last as long as I anticipate. I’ve learned to stay in it and navigate to the other side, because it’s so worth it.

Take My Own Pictures

When I made an “old school” vision board at the beginning of the year with cut out pictures from magazines, my son asked me, “Why do you have pictures of other people’s houses and vacations on your board?” His comment hit me like a brick. First of all, he thinks we have a pretty good thing going already; there’s a lesson. Second, he’s right. It’s time for me to turn that vision into my reality. There are thirty-two weeks left in the year to replace some of those pictures with my own, and hundreds of chances to practice living.