The other day while exploring, my son found a large green caterpillar. He was very excited, being a fan of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, and he proceeded to show everyone his new little friend. We later talked about how the caterpillar would eventually change and grow wings. How cool is nature?
The caterpillar is a great symbol of change and growth and also serves as a reminder that sometimes this growth takes time and may require an investment of energy and some amount of dedication. Sometimes change is subtle, a gentle shifting over a number of years- we look back at who we were a decade ago (or even a year ago) and we realize that we are not the same person. Other times, due to large or sudden transitions in our lives, who we are a lot faster. Most of us don't seek out occasions to change, but in the end, most changes are beneficial because they often translate to growth and development. Think about it: if we never changed, our lives would become stagnant.
And there are times when it is vitally important to make a decision and embrace change. Maybe it's a job with a toxic environment or one that doesn't fit our skillset. Maybe it's a destructive relationship with a partner, family member, or friend. Maybe our goals no longer align with who we want to be. Maybe our business idea isn't working the way we thought. And we realize that it's time to make different decisions- maybe not all at once, but a change nonetheless.
How can we better embrace change and manage the fear of the unknown? Jack Canfield, author and motivational speaker, advises: "Give yourself permission to acknowledge and experience whatever fears show up along the way and take action anyway." Set goals and write them down, no matter how out of reach they may seem, then chart out a path for how they can be achieved. Canfield says that "acting as if" can help propel people into the mindset they need to make effective change and reap positive results. He uses the example of a young man who modeled his dress and behavior after someone higher up the chain at his job and managed, in a few years, to gain a much higher position in his company. Sometimes making change requires some faith in ourselves.
When one of my friends moved away, she gave me a picture that said "just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly." Each of us will undergo many transformations in our lives, some planned and some unexpected. Sometimes the change will be welcome. Sometimes it will feel like everything is crashing down around us. But each transition is shifting us into who we were meant to become.