What does this guitar have to do with eating?
I’ll wager you didn’t see this coming, but bear with me.
Some of you already know that after a very long hiatus, I’m again embracing playing the guitar. There were an unfortunate couple of years way back (small kid + large guitar = not good results) but I’m pretty well–adjusted now, in case you were worried.
Now that I’m no longer a little kid, I figured the time had come for me to learn to re–string my own guitar. My grown–up guitar–playing self wanted to take responsibility and learn this skill. Besides, I didn’t want to be without it for several days.
Realizing that I’ve begun this chat with guitars, I’m resisting the bait–and–switch urge to veer into metaphysics and relativity (you’re welcome; it would’ve ended badly), so let’s think a bit more conventionally about how we make and maintain change in our lives.
Let’s be honest: “change” is one of those concepts and words that’s bandied about fairly loosely. Most of us have at some point decided that we wanted to make some kind of change. Entire books, studies, websites, and support groups exist around change for a reason: it’s not easy.
As a dietitian, one of my favorite things is working with my clients to discover underlying motivations and workarounds that will not just effect a temporary change in their behaviors, but will actually enable them to hardwire the actions and attitudes that will result in weaving those behaviors into new patterns.
“I want to lose weight” isn’t a change.
A suggestion to “avoid x” or “eat y” is not change.
Change is not only realizing that “x” can fit into your lifestyle and meal plans, but also understanding WHY it fits, HOW it affects you, how you relate to and take charge of the “x or y” in your life, and taking responsibility for why it matters. Change is looking at that variable and knowing exactly how you are going to allow it to operate in your new normal. Left only to chance, the changes we attempt usually revert to something we no longer recognize.
Change is not an end product, but rather is the process of making deliberate and progressive alterations to old habits and preferences. Eventually, we arrive at “different” — with diligence and thoughtful planning, it can be a very good different.
~ What? We’re still hanging out here with old strings on our guitars? Allow me to explain why this leap made sense to me. I hope it helps you find some similarities that work for you, whatever your goal.
The LexWellness Handy Guitar Change & String Theory Model of Life
- Decision: Restring my guitar.
- You may have heard of the stages of change model; once contemplation moves into action, a plan begins to become real.
- I had reasons: gaining a skill, not being without the guitar. Without reasons that make sense to you internally, chances are your goals may not remain important to you. Think about why you want to take on your project.
- Embarking on a project without good information is pretty much a wild swing. Even MacGyver made sure he had good info. Find an expert you like and trust. I talked to trusted people who know guitars and could help me with details I might have overlooked.
- Understand your plan
- Collect your tools
- The right set of strings (or, say, a grocery list and estimate of your energy needs). I guarantee you there are as many types of strings as there are crazy weight-management websites out there.
- Wire cutters. Good tools make any job easier. This is a universal truth. My dad taught me how to build a garage and lay bricks, so I figure it’s the same across the board. Identify a good professional, find decent tools, eat good food. (I had to toss that one in — dietitians’ code of honor)
- Band-Aids. Because fingers and wire–cutters. Just in case. There’s always a just in case. So keep a stash of emergency snacks that you can grab as you run out the door. Just. In. Case.
- Set a timeline
- Having everything together is a great start, but that change isn’t going make itself happen. Estimate how long the project will take, choose a start date, and jump in.
- As David Bowie observed, “Still don’t know what I was waiting for”
- String the guitar. Make your changes.
- All at once? Maybe. It depends on your situation.
- Remember that most long-term, sustainable changes happen gradually. In the case of my guitar, changing one string at a time keeps the neck from goodness-knows-what ill fate, and changing each string in a series of steps made it logical, straightforward, and manageable.
- Uh–oh. There’s a hiccup. You’re sailing along on your weight–loss journey, and your office pals throw you a giant surprise birthday party.
- You back up, take a deep breath, reframe the day, enjoy the moment, and move on. That string that twisted just when I thought I was close to becoming The Edge’s guitar wrangler? It simply had to be backed out, coaxed a little bit, and gently re-done. Crisis averted, but not without a few deep breaths. It happens, and the world keeps on spinning.
- Strings complete; goal reached.
- Maintain your work. That was definitely a job, but now you keep tweaking. Pay attention: are things going according to plan? These new strings need to be tuned carefully.
I heard an artist explain that what’s difficult about a building a guitar is that it wants to keep being a tree. Done well, with care and understanding, we can make it into a thing of beauty. With the correct tools and maintenance, that guitar will be a wonderful instrument for a very long time.
Happy changing! Need a hand? Find me here, and let’s talk.