Eight years ago, during a conversation, my eldest son asked me the following question: “what interests you most?”
Generally, I don’t really like questions such as: “What is your favourite colour?” but in this instance the question struck a chord. What interested me most? This question was a tough one. At the time, I was in between two jobs wondering what I was doing with my life. I had plenty of interests, ideas and potential projects, but none seem to stick out. Things came into my life, and I would mostly meet them with enthusiasm.
Professionally, I had never pursued a clear path and was becoming a ‘jack of many trades’. When I narrowed down my experiences and interests, they usually fell into the following categories: architecture, nature, education, sustainability, health and wellbeing, self-knowledge and spiritual freedom.
As far as skills, I dabbled at this and that – not really mastering anything. So this question became meaningful. If I looked back at my life, was there a thread? What was I passionate about? I could not answer his question straight away, so promised to think about it overnight and to give him a response the next day.
After pondering about it all evening and into the night, I realised that what interested me most was change. Change – as a human phenomenon. On the material level we have altered our world entirely, yet on the psychological level, we have not really changed much. People have the potential to change, we see examples of this all around, but most of us find it very difficult to change even when it is in our interest. More importantly, I came to the realisation that unless our civilisation radically changed, we would irreversibly damage the very fabric of life and may even precipitate our own extinction as a species. External changes were needed, but more importantly deeper personal changes were required. Eventhough I did not understand it, change fascinated me and I wanted to learn about it – one tiny change at a time.
Eight years later, I feel even clearer and I want to focus my attention further on the subject of change. I have been intrigued by the simple insights of Leo Babauta who has delved on the topic of small incremental change on his blog ZenHabits.net and turned his life around in the process. Last year he has self-published a book entitled Zen Habits, Mastering the Art of Change, which I have just started to read again.
His core premise is that for a change to last one should turn it into a habit and that one should only take small steps. He really stresses the importance to only tackle one habit at a time. The challenge he gives his readers in the book is to chose one change and to put into practice everyday the advice laid out – one short chapter at a time. He also emphasises the power of accountability: tell people that you want to make this change. I am thereby publicly committing to take this challenge for the next 42 days.
So what is my change going to be? I have been writing on and off for the last three years but have found it difficult to be consistent and confident enough to share it with people. I want to make writing a daily practice and use this blog to document the process. Let’s start small. It may only be a paragraph a day, the important is to show up, to write and to share it.
Today is day zero.
Would you like to take the challenge too? Go on, choose a change you want to make and join me.
Here is a link to the book so you can start straight away:
The Zen Habits Book
(it is uncopyrighted by the author and free to share)