Four quadrants of change.

In my last post, Sweeping Change, I suggested that we begin with what is simple, those things that are easy to change. Starting off with what is easy brings immediate results especially if they have a strong influence to move you in a positive direction.

Let’s get a little more nuanced about change in this post. As I set out at the beginning of this work (see Use a Stick), relationships are with people, places & things, ideas/concepts and words, and activities. As you look at these relationships you may quickly notice that change is easy in some relationships and more difficult in others.

Here I’ve split the relationships into four categories, putting us at the centre of each. This is to make it easier for us to think about our relationships, but ultimately these are not separate but layered and interconnected in various ways. And, of course, all relationships do not exert influence on us to the same degree. We might, for the purposes of exploration consider one or two relationships from each grouping that have the strongest influence, or the weakest.

In so doing we can begin to see how we are influenced and what direction our lives may be going. Take a few moments to think about which one or two people have the greatest influence on your life positively or negatively. Consider which places you visit or things you possess that influence you. What one or two activities do you participate in that influence your life for the good or bad? What about your beliefs? Are there one of two that have a strong influence for you?

As you think about these relationships you may take comfort in the ones that are supporting you in you we are or would like to be. You might also notice there are some that aren’t helpful.

Here are a few examples from my own life and those that I’ve mentored over the years.

  • I spend a lot of time with my brother and I have always counted on him as a friend. He is someone that I look up to and want to be more like
  • My immediate supervisor works in the same space as me at work, and is so moody. Some days I can barely stand to go in to work, and at the end of the day I’m exhausted.
  • I’m glad there is a coffee shop within a block of my house. I go there twice a day. The people are friendly and feel like I belong. I would have a hole in my life if this place closed.
  • I walk to work almost every day. There are several derelict and empty buildings I pass. Sometimes I am saddened by seeing them. Sometimes I am curious about their history. Sometimes I wonder if there is something that could be done, or even that I could do.
  • I drink too much and can see that it is affecting who I could become if I could control it or stop drinking.
  • I read a lot, and am so glad I do. I see the world more broadly than others, I think.
  • I believe people are rotten to the core and I watch out so they don’t hurt me.
  • I believe people are inherently good. I see them doing good things every day. It inspires me.

The more you think about the specific relationships you have in your life the clearer it will become which ones you want to change, strengthen, activate, ignore, or eliminate. You will see things that you want to change for the good. You will see things that make you uncomfortable. You will see things that inspire you and make you despair.

All of that is important in making a shift in identity, becoming more the person you would like to be. It’s important improve your happiness, your personal well-being, your health, your financial wellness etc. At the same time it may seem quite overwhelming.

We might make a list of everything that we would like to change. Some of the things may be easy to accomplish and others may be difficult. Some of the things may have a strong influence in your personal wellbeing and happiness. Others, although they may seem important, have a weaker influence.

The task then for us becomes prioritising the list with a mind toward doing the things that have the greatest influence and which take the least amount of time. This helps us build momentum and get a foothold on something better.

Below is a simple diagram to help you map your change actions in your relationships and what potential influence those actions might have. You may find that some of the easiest things to change have a tremendous influence, or some of the hardest things to change have little influence. None of us want to fall into the trap of doing things that have little return.

Change actions might be thought of as actions you are taking in the relationships that you are consciously trying to activate or deactivate or shift in some way with the goal of changing your identity, your happiness, your skills etc. First, look at all of your relationships. Remember you have relationships not only with people, but also with places and things, ideas and beliefs, and activities. Consider the strength of the influence they have on you. Next consider their ease or resistance to change. Prioritize the relationships that have the greatest influence on you and that are easiest to change. These offer the most immediate success and often help open paths to seeing new possibilities.

Suppose that you are struggling financially, having trouble managing your anxiety, or want to become a better writer. Let this be the focus of your mapping.

When making a change in a specific part of you life you can create a map helps you discover how your sets of relationships are influencing you. You then can consider which of the relationships are easy to change and which are more difficult. And you can ascribe to them the influence they have in your life. Do they have a strong influence toward helping you tackle your challenge, or do they take you away from our goal.

Until next time, I wish you much peace, thoughtful pondering, and strength in being your own best guide. As always, people, do comment below, share this post or others with anyone who you might think it could be of interest to.

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