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When Is the Right Time to Make a Change?

photo: Alex Barth on flickr

photo: Alex Barth on flickr

When it comes to making major changes in your life – or even minor ones – how do you know it’s the right time?

Do the clouds part, and a choir of angels sings to you in perfect harmony, “Now! Now is the time!“?

Or does a bolt of lightning shoot out of the sky, followed by the materialization of your favorite wise one – be it Yoda, Mr. Miyagi, or the Bionic Woman – who then proceeds to tell you exactly when to make your move?

jamie to the rescue

No? Never happened like that?

Me neither.

Even in the absence of singing angels and the Bionic Woman, there have nevertheless been prompts along the way, signs that help steer me in the direction of change – or not.

I was reminded of this when I was at a silent retreat for my ministerial studies at Holmes Institute.

During our time in the quiet, everything felt spacious and unrushed.

I particularly noticed this when we were eating. It was easier to eat more slowly, to spend time on each bite.

photo: Britt Selvitelle on flickr

photo: Britt Selvitelle on flickr

As I was engaged in this process, I thought of mealtimes in my daily life. Melissa’s and my regular routine is to watch our favorite TV shows while we eat dinner. Our lives are rich and full, and we don’t spend a lot of time watching shows. But this is a little indulgence of ours. Our little treat.

Before the retreat, Melissa had suggested that we just eat, and not watch TV at the same time, and occasionally we did.

But what I realized, as I ate in silence at the retreat, was that even though it would be good to eat like this all the time, I wasn’t ready to do so yet.

It was so clear. Yes, this is a good and beneficial practice. And No, I’m not ready to commit to it yet.

I have had similar messages with other habits and routines. I knew for a long time that I would eventually stop eating dairy foods, that it would serve me to do so, but I waited until I was ready.

I knew for a long time that I would eventually attend the Center for Spiritual Living Santa Rosa, that I would find a community there, but I waited until the time was right.

photo: Will Bakx

photo: Will Bakx

Actually, that’s not quite true.

A few years before I started attending regularly, I went to a service at the Center. I went because I wanted to be in a relationship and someone had told me there were lots of groovy lesbians at the Center.

The minute I walked through the door, I knew I was there for the wrong reason. And I didn’t come back.

It wasn’t until I was genuinely hungry for spiritual community, and a friend of mine started going and invited me to join her, that the time was right. I took the next step and it was easy.

My time at the Holmes retreat reminded me of the perfection of change.

It reminded me that when I listen to my inner guidance, I can be guided to right timing in all situations.

Yes, it would be awesome to have a choir of angels serenade me with messages of guidance and support. Or, better yet, the Bionic Woman, with her super-powered ear to listen to all my troubles before she busted out the primo advice.

But alas, I am simply left with myself. That is to say, I am left with the Divine, which speaks to me in various ways – through friends and books and movies and inner promptings.

photo: longtrekhome on flickr

photo: longtrekhome on flickr

No, it’s not usually as dramatic as singing angels or female superheros, but when I choose to listen, the messages are always clear.

And when the messages aren’t clear, I know I’m not ready to act yet. I know I need to pause, awaiting further instructions.

Part of being human is being messy. And taking time. The process of change is no different.

The questions are these: Can we stop pushing ourselves to do things when we’re not ready yet? And can we be brave enough to act when it’s time to do so?

When we answer Yes to both questions, we know we’re finding our way. Allowing our humanness. And listening to the guidance within and without.

I’d take that over the Bionic Woman any day.

why the sad face?

How do you know when it’s time to make a change? And how do you know when you’re not ready yet? Share your comments below!

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12 Responses to When Is the Right Time to Make a Change?

  1. Karen June 25, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    Thanks for another thought-provoking post, Z!

    I know I’m ready to make a change when it’s calling to me, when I WANT to make the change.

    I know I’m not ready to make a change when I know the change would be good, in theory, but it’s NOT really calling me. I don’t really WANT to do it — not yet, anyhow.

    My feller, Mark, began a really exciting nutrition club in October, and a fitness trainer friend of ours, Mike, leads folks in free work-outs. It was a golden opportunity for me to become more fit and healthy — something that I’ve always considered a priority — and yet, it just didn’t call me. So I didn’t do it. For months, I didn’t participate, even though I knew Mark and Mike would appreciate my presence.

    Then, this week, it started to call to me. It began to sound really fun. I WANTED to do it, and so I started it — yesterday — and I loved every minute of the work-out in a lovely park near the nutrition club. I’ll be going back as long as it feels good.

    I just love learning to live this way — not doing things because I SHOULD, even though they seem so logical. Not doing things because other people are doing them, even though those other people are so enthusiastic. Doing things that I want to do, when I want to do them and not a moment before.

    Whew, I think we’re onto something here! :)

    • Z Egloff June 26, 2013 at 11:46 am #

      Hi Karen,

      Thank you for your story. I love hearing how this all works for others. Anytime I hear about someone else trusting the Universe, and trusting their own intuition, and trusting the perfect timing of all things, it gives me more inspiration to do the same. I also like that you point out that we have to let go of logic on this one – it’s about following the feeling tone of every action and activity. And trusting ourselves enough to do so.

      Thank you for your comment! :)

      XOZ

  2. Jo Lauer June 25, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    Someone (?) once said, “when the discomfort of not changing outweighs the fear of change, that’s when you change.” I’m not sure…some of us have a high tolerance for discomfort. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    • Karen June 25, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

      I’ve heard that saying, too, Jo. The problem with that as I see it: it’s all about acting as a result of negative emotion. It’s just about which negative emotion feels a little less negative.

      I’m learning that we want to move forward from a place of alignment with our Inner Being — from a place of feeling as good as possible where we are. When we take time to align first, any change we make will be inspired and a good choice.

      • Z Egloff June 26, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

        I think both are true. Yes, it’s awesome to be able to make a change coming from a place of joy and alignment with Source. The more I do this, the more I seem to have opportunities to do so.

        And it’s also true that contrast, in the language of Abe, still exists. As a human being, I still get to experience those oh-so-human emotions of fear and discomfort from time to time. Sometimes change is born from discomfort, and the courage to move past our fears. Sometimes that movement, in an of itself, is what knocks us into alignment.

        I don’t think there’s one right way. The key is to look at all of it with love. After all, that’s the ultimate alignment. :)

  3. Bonita June 25, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Dear Z:

    I’m walking through a major change right now. How did I know it was time to change? I was ready to jump out of my skin every day. However, it took me months of sorting through the discomfort to find out what it was that I needed to change and to make sure I wasn’t just conjuring up some drama. I also met and discussed this with my teacher, mentor, and spiritual advisor at the Center. Then, when it was time, everything aligned perfectly. I knew it was right because it was effortless.
    I also want to thank you for this post today. It gives me permission to take time to make the change until I am ready to commit. A conversation yesterday about journaling left me feeling a little like a loser because so many people journal and I want to journal but just know I am not ready to commit to journaling as a daily practice. The seed has been planted though.
    Blessings,
    Bonita

    • Z Egloff June 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

      Hi Bonnie,

      Good for your for walking through your changes. And for sorting through the discomfort – both within yourself and with the help of others. And I love that right timing and alignment came through in the end! :)

      Also, just for the record, I’m not a journaler! I used to be, but it doesn’t really work for me anymore. What works better for me is to process with the spoken word – either by praying out loud, or by talking with a trusted friend. In my humble opinion, it’s about finding what works best for you. Maybe that’s journaling and maybe it’s not. I trust that you’ll know that right answer for you!

      XOZ

  4. Jane Beach June 26, 2013 at 5:52 am #

    Dearest Z,

    There is a God-filled presence that makes its way known through your wisdom, your humor and your compassion for the human condition.

    God knew what it was doing when it presented the right moment for you to say yes to your greatness!

    Love, Jane

    • Z Egloff June 26, 2013 at 11:43 am #

      Hi Jane,

      Have I told you lately that I love you?! 😉

      Thank you for your comment! For me, doing a blog was a “should” for a long time. And then, suddenly, it was the right time. So I appreciate your awareness of the factor of timing in all this. And, of course, I love that you love the blog! :)

      XOZ

  5. Jill Shinn August 9, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

    Hi Z, great post, and just what I needed to read because big change is in the air for me. I like these two points the best: 1) When the messages are not clear, it’s not time to act, and, 2} Life is messy sometimes, and change can be too. All too often I feel like I should keep things smooth—like it’s my job not to rock the boat, but I think that’s just old programming that we woman still believe.Anyway, thanks for saying the perfect thing—again!

    • Z Egloff August 15, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

      Hi Jill,

      I hear you about the “not rocking the boat” programming. I’ve found that this can still come up for me. I agree with you that women are especially prone to such programing. But how liberating it can be to let it go! And make the changes that are right for us! Rock on, sistah! :)

      XOZ

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