[Day 5][Step-by-Step]: What do you Do About a Change That You Desire but Can’t Commit to?

I’ve figured it out! I don’t know about god, but the brain certainly works in mysterious ways when it comes to revelations. I had mine at 4 AM after a night of photography, drinks, dancing, and birthday celebrations.

Last night I volunteered to take pictures at my friend’s Birthday party. It was  quite the affair and the most energetic and well-deserved birthday bash I’ve been to in a while. Truth is though, I had more fun taking pictures than I did socializing.

Granted I started interacting with people pretty late into the night, and they like me were tired/drunk by that point, but still I was socializing more out of a desire to be social more than  a desire to be. It’s the sort of thing you do when you spend a lot of time working alone, you start to feel unhealthy for not being around or wanting to be around people. But I digress.

On the drive home, in a tired haze, I mulled over a question that had popped up in my head earlier in the day.

What do you do about a change that you want but can’t commit to? When I looked at my habit tracker the answer seemed obvious.

Change, whether big or small, beckons transformation. Whether it is social, internal, or intellectual transformations tend to disrupt or change the status quo and can even remove it all together. Transformations in short thrusts us into uncertainty and by doing so challenges our deepest vulnerabilities. Which is why committing to change means taking a risk and dealing with the fears that are associated with it. Framed by this perspective I quickly realized, the next day, that I knew how to solve this.

I have a few beliefs about risk that I think have served me really well, this post is about the last one.

  1. There is no change without risk.
  2. The opposite of fear isn’t courage–it’s trying.
  3. Design the form courage that best tackles the risk. 

Since we demand a good fit for our clothes, it’s odd to me that people don’t think in those terms for their attributes and habits. Which is why I created this process for myself (not to mention a shit ton of anxiety).

This, currently, is my method of designing courage. It’s based on Tim Feriss’s “Fear Setting” exercise–which serves as the first step.
Step 1 [Divide and Conquer]: Break Down Your Fear into parts

Create Lists for the following

  • Define — What are the worst outcomes if the risk your committing to doesn’t work?
  • Prevent — How do you prevent these outcomes from taking place?
  • Repair — If  you fail to prevent the negative outcomes, how can you fix them?

The “prevent” and “repair” sections will be your blueprint for designing the courage you need.

Step 2 [Contingency Plan]: Set Up your Contingency Plan 

I see this step as an exercise in self-assurance. Take the items in the ‘Repair’ section and create a  week plan (this is flexible) to complete as many items on the repair section. I recommend doing this part first if you’re really worried about the risk you’re taking.

I find that this helps me realize and accept that I can survive and recover from the risk I’m taking (usually). Future opportunities rarely disappear because of one mistake.

Step 3 [Create An Exercise]: Use the Prevent Section to Create Three to Four Week Plan

Take the items listed in the “Prevent” section and create a six-week plan where you practice or work on the list items. The goal is to make building your courage an integral part of preparing for and taking the risk (which in this case is committing to a change), and then to practice it.

All together you get a five to six-week plan to really work on developing the sort of courage you need to get something done. Remember, according to neuroplasticity, it takes about three weeks to build a habit.

That’s what this exercise seeks to do–to develop courage as a skill and not as some innate attribute.

Want to see me practice what I preach? I am going to be using this process to work on making some of the changes that I’ve been struggling with and documenting the ups and down. There is too much advice out there that we have to take on faith. My goal is to make sure the source material for any advice I give to be rooted in personal experimentation, research and feedback.

I’ve recently redone my habit tracker to make it easier to follow, which you can do here. To read about my ups and down follow this blog, and check out my journals.



Today’s addition to the play list is— Ki: The Theory – ” Enjoy the Silence” (cover of Depeche Mode)

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