“Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust. Stop being who you were, and change into who you are.” -Paulo Coehlo
I absolutely adore this quote I found from The Alchemist. Now, to be honest, I’ve yet to read the book, or any of Coehlo’s work (sorry!), but that doesn’t mean you and I can’t benefit from his words. In fact, I’m deliberately not even researching the background of the quote because I don’t need it. I don’t need to know which character says it or what the circumstances are; I just want to focus on the act of changing into who I am.
Our blog is all about what the name says: changing our default. Yes, we mainly like to spend our words on financial wellness, but it’s all within the greater context of changing our normal behaviors to attain contentment. Of course, with my friend’s recent passing, I’m thinking a lot about how to best spend my life. Life is too short to waste being anything other than who you really want to be. So let’s think of Coehlo’s words in relation to the changes we desire in our own lives.
Shut the door.
Whatever is holding you in the past, don’t be afraid to shut the door on it and open up other doors that will serve you better. Is there a major fear that’s held you captive far too long? Put it away in its own closet and shut the door. Do you harbor room in your mind for past disappointments, betrayals, rejections? Close the door on those too.
Change the record.
That same old depressing or discouraging tune that’s been playing over and over in your head for weeks, months, even years? Time to bust out some new music! Sing a new song. Dance to a different band. Let there be a new soundtrack to your days, one that’s life-affirming and daring and exciting. Don’t keep listening to that sad country song where you’ve lost everything. Make room in your playlist for confidence, for hope, for new beginnings.
This year, my “record” is quite different from the past. Where life used to be filled with lesson plans and staff meetings, it’s now filled with dinosaur toys and cartoons and potty training. Where I used to be sad dropping my kids off at daycare, I’m now enjoying a lot more closeness with my kids.
Clean the house.
Mr. COD is the cleaner and organizer of our household. It drives him bananas to see toys strewn all over the house, mail and papers scattered on every counter and table, and dirty clothes on the floor. I don’t love messes either, but I have a greater ability to turn a blind eye to the clutter sometimes. However, the weeks while we were showing our house and still living there, we found out how much better we felt with a clean, uncluttered house. We’re working on keeping a neater house for our own sanity.
Cleaning house literally improves your outlook, your environment, giving you a fresh sensation. When we spring clean, we tend to push open all the windows, letting in all the scents of the outdoors. A clean house means open spaces to let your creativity run wild. It gives you room to breathe and to think and to start something new.
“Cleaning house” might also mean doing relationship inventory. Letting go of toxic relationships, or at least affording them less space in your life. As we declutter our homes, we might also benefit from decluttering our lives in other ways.
Shake off the dust.
In the Bible, Jesus told his disciples that if any place didn’t welcome them and their gospel message, they should shake the dust off their feet as they left. Taylor Swift also sang of this powerful act (haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate…do you hate me now for putting this song in your head?). We can apply this to the changes we need to make. Anything that’s not advancing our progress toward goals, we shake it off and leave it behind.
Has someone damaged you with degrading comments or tried to actively sabotage your success? Have you been carrying baggage from old relationships, failed careers, lost talents? Give yourself permission to shake all of that off.
A big struggle for me is letting rejection roll off me. I tend to let negative thoughts drag me down, and every time I get rejected in terms of freelance jobs, friendships, or anything else, I have a hard time moving past that. Shaking off the bad makes room for the good.
Shall we borrow some words from the first American Idol winner as well? “Take a risk, take a chance, make a change…and break away.” Kelly Clarkson’s debut hit may seem really old nowadays, but it still rings true when I’m craving some inspiration. I need the positive encouragement from songs like that. Sometimes we have to break away from what’s easy or comfortable in order to grow and get to a better place.
Change ain’t easy. We all are well aware that it’s much simpler to keep doing things the way we’re accustomed to, the way that’s comfortable and familiar. Change hurts. It stretches us and bends us and leads us along paths that can seem dark and scary.
I can’t forget this one chapel speaker from my time at Wheaton. Her central message was how to deal with the inevitability of three things: change, loss, and pain. While I’m sure she presented a few useful points, all I can remember is how she punctuated the sentence every time she said the three things. She would count them out on her fingers emphatically: “Change, loss, and pain,” then pound on her chest with a fist and say, “Ouch.” It was so comical; we mocked her rather unkindly afterwards.
But no matter how painful, change (to the right things) is worth it. Whether it’s a change to a healthier lifestyle, a more stable financial future, a supportive relationship, it’s worth every bit of research and time invested. We can break away from our old habits, our old defaults, and create new ones that fit who we are. As said in The Alchemist, we can stop being who we were and start being who we are.
When you look at yourself today, do you see the person you want to see? Or do you have a picture in your mind of who you’d like to be one day? Whatever sacrifices you have to make to become the new version of yourself, they just might be worth it.