I’m posting from overseas this week, so my usual timetable is a bit out of kilter. I can’t imagine that you’ve noticed the quirky precision of my posting timetable anyway (there’s a prize in it for you if you can spot the pattern in my normal posting schedule), so an apology is probably not necessary. I only mention it because it prompted me to tell you about how I travel, which I’ve done a lot in my life.
Prior to each trip I always have two aims for the journey which, despite my best intentions, never actually play out as intended.
The first is the promise I make to myself that I will use the enforced wait at the airport wisely by spending it in a deeply reflective zen-like state that will enable me to knock off a mini-series of insightful and amusing posts for this blog. As you’ll certainly have noticed, this never happens.
Instead, like most other people, I get caught in the commercial machinery that airport designers have put there to strip us of as much of our hard-earned cash as they can in the two-hour window available to them. Experience has hardened me and I never commit to anything bigger than the odd book, or food and drink, but its enough to ensure that my intended burst of productivity never happens.
My other pre-trip aim is to travel a little lighter with each trip I make. I’m pretty good at this bit, but I still fall way short of my ambition to be virtually free of luggage. Even though I always go ‘hand baggage only’ not only do I pack more than I need, I alway manage to get the contents wrong for the climate I’m going to. This trip, that error has led me to realise that it actually reflects a quirk of human nature that goes to the heart of personal change and growth.
Straight to the Heart of Change
Whether it is new year’s resolutions or deep and meaningful therapy, I guess we all have ‘best intentions’ at some point about something we’d like to change or improve in ourselves. It may be fixing our mood swings, exercising regularly or learning a language. We have all known the cycle of ‘best-intentions-failure-renewed-intent…’ that is so often the hallmark of personal change.
The way to do it, say the clever-clogs gurus who’ve apparently got it sorted, is to visualise the ‘new you’ as clearly as possible as you embark on your programme of change. If my travel plans included the ability to detach myself from the english February rain and gloom while packing my travel bag, and convincingly imagine me trotting around in a t-shirt under clear blue skies, then I’d get to my destination with the right stuff. Instead, I overpack ‘just in case’ the weather where I’m going is uncharacteristically cold and wet.
So it is in life, I think. Maybe you’d like to be fluent in another language or be able to control your moods like a saint, but you just can’t hold the image of the post-change you, or convincingly see yourself with the newly acquired set of skills so that you start living the part before you get there.
There is no doubt that the more clearly and believably we can see our desired selves, while still in the here-and-now, the more likely we are to get to our destination and enjoy it. But we are often so looking forward to arriving there, that we fail to properly prepare ourselves while we are still here.