The Cost of Starting a New Thing

By Coach Caren

I started grad school this fall. It’s the first time in a long time that I am immersed in newness. My fall schedule bears no resemblance to my spring schedule and the routines that had become very comfortable to me. It’s teaching me a lot about myself and how I think about the work of making changes. It’s also helpful to me as a coach because it reminds me of the work that goes into turning your life in a new direction. 

We have people come into the gym all the time who say “I am ready for a change.”; “I need to make some changes”; “It’s time for a change”. And I applaud the recognition of those statements. It’s an important step among many already made! If you can’t define the thing you want to change, it’s very hard to make plans.

I wanted to make this change. My kids are all in school. I have percolating ideas about arenas I want to be part of and I am only 46. I hold the mantra of “saying yes to something is a no to something else” in front of me, and I worked hard to scale back and shift priorities. But I have been surprised by the aspects of change that feel overwhelming. These noticings are the space I am working on: compassion for myself and compassion for others who are pursuing change.

  1. Physical costs: I made a great plan about working out at school. I blocked out time. I packed my gear. Then I locked my stuff in a combination locker and couldn’t get it out. I had to go find personnel who could release my stuff. It ate most of the time I had budgeted and wore me out. Change costs physical energy – sometimes more than you budget for.
  2. Financial costs: When you want to level up, you have to pay to be in a space where you can receive from experts whose advice you want. It’s costly, but worth it to invest in yourself. (Also look at their lives, don’t pay for a life you don’t want!)
  3. Emotional costs: Having to adapt to new physical tasks – working out in a new space, figuring out how to navigate new systems, meeting new people etc. makes me have lots of internal questions about if what I am doing is worth it. It ramps up my negative self-talk and I have to prioritize the habits I know restore me (even if I don’t feel like doing them – eating well, going to bed, working out, spiritual disciplines). This is when I notice how much motivation waxes and wanes, and that I can’t let my emotional well-being be tethered to it or I will quit and decide this isn’t worth it. Change costs emotional energy (even as it helps me build a new platform to stand on). 
  4. Relational costs: I am not an extrovert. Meeting new people, and initiating conversations costs me physical and emotional energy. I also have limited relationship energy so I have to prioritize how I spend it. I am trying to put Drew and the kids first, and be very careful about the rest. That’s hard because I also really like people. When you start a new thing you meet new people. New relationships are costly. 
  5. Spiritual costs: taking risks to go after new things says something about your beliefs. It speaks to how you see the world, and how you see yourself fitting into it. It’s a form of testing those beliefs. This journey for me invites me to ask about what works and what doesn’t. We can only hold so much at one time, and a journey necessitates putting things down to make room for new things. In the wellness space we can hold many beliefs about ourselves – what makes for a good physical body, what constitutes feeding it, what it means to rest or what it means to be worthy of affirmation. All of those questions take energy to test out, and more likely than not we’ll find a continuum of answers rather than a simple binary. 

I am really grateful for the opportunity to try something new. I am aware that it is a privilege not everyone gets. It also gives me new appreciation for all the wellness seekers that come through our doors – welcome! We’re so glad you are here. This is a place for testing out change. Don’t quit at the first point of discomfort, or cost (physical, financial, emotional, relational, spiritual), those are probably indicators that you are in exactly the right spot.