Change is a funny thing. It's something many people want to do, few people accomplish at doing, and the reason why there are so many bestselling self-help books in the world.
Change is many things.
Change is different for each and every person.
Change is personal.
Change doesn't just impact you.
But the only person who can make you change is you.
Yet, somehow, we try to change each other, even though change is so personal.
My husband and I decided we needed to change. He wants to see change, but he often doesn't want to be the one to make the changes. He likes things easy and simple. I can't really blame him for that–who doesn't like easy and simple? I sure do.
He wanted change, but didn't need it.
I needed change, but didn't want to do it.
As a result, neither one of us wanted it or needed it bad enough. Thus, there are, as always, consequences.
I had been so busy working and preparing for Inquisitor's launch that I hadn't kept up on the house cleaning. I was never all that good at house cleaning to begin with. Cleaning wasn't a chore my mother hounded me on when I was little. The same applied to my husband. We just didn't have any of the good habits that good homekeepers have.
Yet we ended up with a house of our own, and we both lacked the skills to really be good at keeping a house.
He wanted that to change. I needed that to change. As I said before, he didn't need it, and I didn't want it bad enough.
And that is what needed to change before we could change.
Change is complicated.
This is an image of change. For everyone who isn't me, it probably just looks like a clean, empty sink. For us, it's a marvel.
This sink is the first stainless steel sink my husband and I have ever had in our adult life. The apartments we lived in all had fiberglass sinks, as did our condo. We bought a stainless steel sink for the condo when we sold it–because stainless steel sinks sell condos. (True story: Before we installed the sink, no offers. Day after we installed the sink? Three offers. Want to sell a house? Install a brand new sink and paint your cabinets.)
A habit in our house, and a bad one, was to let the sink fill to overflowing, then let the counters fill to overflowing… and then thinks about running the dishwasher.
Change, for us, was a small first step. It looks a little like this:
We're adults. Something with these four simple steps shouldn't be that hard, right? But it is. We're, by nature, lazy people. We're lazy people who had one piece of the puzzle, but lacked the other. My husband is the opposite side of my coin in many ways.
Yet, somehow, this one simple task wasn't something we could easily do. Were we defective as adults? Why was something so easy so difficult?!
When you fail at something as easy as emptying and filling a dishwasher, it isn't just your house that suffers–you suffer. I suffered. I'd walk past my filled sink and feel nothing but disgust–usually about myself. Sometimes at my spouse, who wanted the dishes done, but didn't need it done bad enough to do it himself. And mostly at me, who saw the need to do it, but didn't want to do it bad enough.
And once you fail at something that simple, getting back on the horse and trying again is really, really hard. All I saw was the failure.
I couldn't handle running a dishwasher.
Maybe I deserved a cluttered house.
This, like all doubt does, reached out to impact all facets of our life. We ceased caring as much if we overspent–we already screwed up elsewhere. What's a bit of extra debt? The house is already cluttered–what's a bit more added to the mess?
Today, instead of letting change just slip through our fingers, he decided he needed it, and I decided I wanted it. It started with a discussion. I got a really cool writing tool for my birthday, and I wanted to get a few upgrades and supplies for it. I wanted to replace the plastic ring system with metal for longer durability. I also liked the color. I wanted a hole punch for the system too.
We started talking. You know, like adults. Discussions. Things we wanted to do–and most importantly–things we needed to do.
We have debt. So how do we pay it off?
I pointed out I have a habit of encouraging bad spending on the weekends. Sometimes over $50 in excessive junk we don't need or want in our lives.
That's up to $200 a month in savings, all from one simple change. Something that takes almost no effort at all. We had a retrospective moment, and we both realized it was a change we could actually accomplish.
So, I took it a step further. I said I could change a bad habit of mine–not cleaning the dishes promptly. So I got up, unloaded the clean dishes from the dishwasher, put the dirty dishes in, added the little pod thingie, and hit the start button.
Progress, in less than five minutes, had been made.
Change had been made.
It was a small change. For people who are good at cleaning, it's something so insignificant that it wouldn't surprise me if I was mocked or looked down at for having this bad habit.
But change happened, and it was because we both wanted and needed it bad enough.
My clean sink is a moment of success. I can walk into my kitchen, look at its stainless steel glory, and think, I can change.
Even more importantly, when I see that I can change, because I did change, my next line of thought is often a tentative ‘what else can I change?'
It is little steps for us, because we're so used to failure that success is a fleeting mistress. In a way, we're so accustomed to failing that the concept of actually succeeding at something is pretty foreign.
But we need and want change… so we're giving it a try.
It started with a clean sink.
We're looking at our finances now, and looking for simple and easy ways we can change–ways that don't cost us a whole lot in personal sacrifice, but make a big difference to our bottom line.
We're investing $20 from every income to our savings account. It is a little change–we're not really going to miss the $20, but it's the fact we're taking the money and moving it to the other account that really matters.
If we need it, we'll take it out, but it's that all-important first step.
that's likely $60 a month–two paychecks, and $20 from my royalty payments.
That's not a whole lot, but it's a start.
We're also going to cut back on stupid purchases on the weekends. We tend to waste somewhere around $50 bucks on snacks, sodas, and expensive dinners when we're out with friends… when a single bottle of Coca Cola and a pair of frozen dinners would suffice.
That's in the ballpark of $10 versus $50. That's somewhere between $160 to $200 a month–or more.
The change isn't all that big, but it makes a big difference.
It is a change we're confident we can make.
And that makes all of the difference in the world.
We can change.
And for once, we're not looking at failure in the making. We're thinking: and we will.
And maybe that's the most important change of all.