For years, I had my light switches backwards. The switch on the right would turn on the hallway to the left and the switch on the left would turn on the kitchen to the right. I got used to it; even though it was wrong.
This annoyed all of my guests. “Why are your switches backwards?” They would say. I would shrug. I’m just a renter. This is the way it’s always been.
Until one day I decided to make the change. I took out my trusty screwdriver, flipped the breaker, and with a fit of motivation, I changed the switches. What a sigh of relief it was. The right switch turning on the kitchen and the left switch turning on the hallway. It felt right again. It felt correct.
The next day I woke up and walked to the kitchen, flipped the light switch, and the hallway lights lit. I laughed and carried on with my day. Then it happened again, and again, and again. How frustrating! The lights were not the only things that were wired backwards. My brain was wired backwards too.
We tend to forget that change requires multiple phases. There is the pre-change motivation, the actual physical change, and the aftershock. The hardest phases being the pre-change and the aftershock. Those are the mental battles. The physical change is tangible. We can see it unfold in front of your eyes. It’s a sprint from point A to point B with defined start and finish lines. The pre-change and aftershocks are marathons. They are continuous battles with our worst nemesis: ourselves.
I’ve seen this in myself. The same story arc played when I left the country, changed careers, ended relationships, and changed my light switches. It wasn’t the change itself but the mental battles before and after.
Change is mentally gruelling. It takes time to solidify a change. Not only must we rewire the switch but we must rewire ourselves. We must rewire the way we think.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for this. Just know where the true challenges lie. That is enough to get through.