“You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world…”
— The Beatles, Revolution
As 2014 draws to a close people start listing resolutions they intend to achieve in 2015. Although well intended, 77% of people who make new year’s resolutions abandon them — many as early as the end of January.
I’ve never been much for making lists of resolutions, though as 2009 started I was inspired by Chris Brogan’s call to list three words that would inspire me and inform my decisions.
Ironically, in the months that followed my life took an unexpected turn that forever changed who I am and how I see the world. My three words were incredibly relevant some of the time, yet totally irrelevant at others. I survived a shock to my system that jarred me out of my comfort zone.
I learned that nothing is certain except the uncertainty of life. Yet, looking back over those five years I also realized something essential to my philosophy of lifelong learning: I evolved. What does that mean?
If you look at the definition to the left the word that pops out at me is “gradually.” This means change takes time and therefore requires something we all could use more of: patience.
Because most resolutions are transactional they are nearly impossible to achieve unless you precede them with a transformational realignment. If you don’t change how you see yourself and your situation, any short-term goals are doomed to fail because you won’t have an accurate benchmark.
So, with all due respect to The Beatles (see the lyrics to their song Revolution, above), evolution is more realistic than revolution, especially on a personal level.
Am I perfect now? Far from it; I am full of flaws and continuing to evolve as an individual. I suppose that’s the point, right? But I am more aware of myself and more engaged in my life than ever before. I am embracing ambiguity more than before and forcing myself out of my comfort zone.
The impact has been exceptional, both personally and professionally. Most notably, I relocated 8,000 miles away to Dubai, UAE for a full time teaching position — just two short weeks after being offered the job(and having never before been to Dubai)!
Although Dubai is westernized in many ways, it has still provided me a wonderful opportunity to experience an entirely different culture than the one with which I was accustomed.
I am endeavoring to become the person who I should be, not who other people want me to be. I refuse to let others define me and decide for me.
I am doing this as much for myself as I am to show my two sons — whom I miss a great deal — that there is a world beyond the boundaries of the city in which they live. I want to inspire them to adventure by my actions. In the spirit of Robin William’s character in Dead Poets Society (John Keating) I embrace a philosophy of “Carpe Diem!”
I understand evolution is a process that happens — wait for it — gradually. Ask Darwin: evolution is a transformational process that fundamentally changes something over a length of time, not a short period of time. Just as I will never stop learning, I realize I will never be “done” evolving.
My evolution might have happened naturally as a function of maturity when I turned 40 earlier this year, but the process was was undoubtedly accelerated by the five years before it. While in the midst of the moment I was often overwhelmed with the challenges thrown my way, I now look back with gratitude for having been strengthened as a result.
Certainly you don’t have to go through what I did; you can find inspiration anywhere. If you need a little boost, however, you might enjoy reading the book “The Art of Possibility” by Benjamin Zander. You might also find insight by completing the StrengthsFinder analysis; it was fundamental in helping me realize teaching was my perfect profession.
So, will you resolve to evolve in 2015?