Making a change is not easy. Change is hard but worth it if the change means your life will improve. What’s the best way to make a change? Sometimes it’s about doing many small things consistently over time, but what should you do when small changes aren’t working? The answer I found is to go in the opposite direction and do something bigger and maybe even a little extreme.
Twenty years ago I worked at author and speaker Stephen R. Covey’s company, The Covey Leadership Center. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I felt privileged to meet, see, and hear Stephen Covey speak many times. The things he taught have had a profound affect on my life. One of the things he said often was this:
If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.
During the years we struggled financially, I thought of this quote often. Our financial difficulties did not last for a few months but were ongoing for many years. At the beginning of every year I would have so much hope that this would be the year things would change. I also spent many Decembers feeling depressed when nothing was very different.
I would often recite Stephen Covey’s quote to my husband. “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” We would make plans to change things here and there but it was never anything major. Our answer for change almost always involved cutting the budget, a small thing that can help, but there are only so many ways to cut your budget. We were at the point that there was nothing left to cut.
One day in December 2013 everything hit rock bottom. Bills were piling up, and I was frustrated about another year ending with nothing changing. My husband was trying to switch things up with his business and was working on opening a car dealership but nothing about the process was moving quickly.
On that day the phone rang. I answered and heard the nice bank lady on the other end of the line say, “You’ll probably have to short sale.” I felt desperate. I hung up the phone, called my husband and cried. Through my tears, I managed to choke out what the nice bank lady had said. All he said was, “I know.” His response hit me like a ton of bricks.
In an instant a switch was turned inside of me. I knew he was right. Continuing to do what we had been doing was not going to get us where we needed to go. We needed to do something way more extreme. Tim had known for a while what we needed to do, but he knew I thought it was way too drastic. He had patiently waited for me to figure it out for myself and I finally had.
Eight months later our house was sold, and we moved to a rental house. The time in between was full of stress and unknowns, but also momentum and huge amounts of hope I hadn’t felt for a long time. I could feel that doing something major to change our situation was totally going to make a difference. It has made a difference.
The other night at the end of a long day, Tim and I had our nightly ritual of sitting in the living room to talk about random things. We talked about how much our financial situation has changed since we made the big decision to sell our house. Tim has opened the car dealership he worked towards for so long. I have found multiple opportunities to earn money but still be around for my kids. Our savings account is growing. The rental house has met our needs and then some. Most importantly we feel so much hope again.
We all have struggles, challenges and things we need to change in our lives. If what you are doing to change isn’t working, maybe it’s time to go for broke and do something big.
I know there is a time and a place to use small and simple things as a way to change our lives. I am also grateful I have learned that doing the big gigantic thing right in front of you is what you need to do sometimes, too.
Have you ever done something drastic to change your life? How did it work out?
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