Change: There have been poems, essays, books and songs written about change.
And I am beginning to think that most of these items were written about the frustration that comes with change rather than a road map for making it happen. I have the ability to change things all around me–I can change the color of my house, the style of my clothing, my friends, where I live, my place of employment.
But the hardest things to change are people, and I’m the most difficult subject I know.
What am I trying to change?
None of the stuff that my wife wants me to work on (communication, having feelings, etc.); that is another article altogether.
I want to live a minimalist life. I have too much stuff. I get rid of stuff, then before too long I have bought more than enough to make up for whatever I have gotten rid of in the past.
I blame this habit of over-consumption of goods on my impulsive buying habits and on the media-soaked society that we live in (it’s only half my fault–not taking full responsibility is part of my problem).
The advertising industry is extremely good at its job. I see an advertisement for a new SUV and I want it, because I’m an outdoors guy and I should look like it even when I am driving down the interstate.
I want people to see my car and assume I am heading to the trail (I’m not; I’m going to my office job) and wish they had my cool life (it’s not that cool).
I see an advertisement for a new smart phone that can keep me connected to all my social networks all the time and allow me to use apps that I never even knew I needed.
It has been scientifically proven that “phone envy” is one of the greatest motivators of teens and adults. This is why whenever you attend a meeting, everyone takes out his phone and lays it on the table so everyone can look on and see how connected he is (consider me overly impressed).
I drive a 10-year-old Jeep, and I will continue to drive that Jeep for a couple of reasons: It is paid for and it is in great shape.
What over-consumption does is make us slaves. A new vehicle will make me a slave to finances, and I want to work to have impact on others, not to be able to make my car payments. Also, a new SUV doesn’t instantly make me a cool, outdoors person who is always on some great adventure (usually a trip to buy diapers).
I don’t have a smart phone. I did. In fact, I’ve had several, but I realized that the phone that was supposed to connect me better disconnected me from the people that were right in front of me.
No email is more important than the person I am talking to that is right in front of me. I no longer sit down at a table and put my phone between me and the person sitting across from me, just in case they were wondering who or what was most important (vibrating phone always trumps actual person).
I am in my mid-forties, and change is tough all the time, but when you have been practicing something (over-consumption) for as long as I have, it is even more difficult to change behavior.
1. Knowing where to start: Honest assessment/honest feedback of what I am wanting or needing to change
2. Taking responsibility for actions: I have the ability to not do something even though it may be tough
3. Reminding myself to stay motivated: I keep a few blog posts about minimalist thinking and over-consumption that motivate me
4. Knowing what the end looks like: Define what it is you are trying to accomplish–I want to be more in the moment of life. I want to give back. I want to take road trips with my family. I want to be a producer, not a consumer. I want to live a contented life.
This is supposed to be an article about summer camp. What does this have to do with work or summer camp?
Changing ourselves can be difficult, but changing others can seem impossible (ask my wife). But if you have a staff member who is needing to change some behavior or trying to change a behavior, having the accountability of another person can help with this.
When dealing with staff on your team, the first step is identifying the behavior that needs to change. This can be done through their acknowledgement of it or through honest feedback from a supervisor or co-worker.
Having the staff member take responsibility for behaviors or actions is a key point in the change process. If I don’t know or think that I have a problem, am I going to be very motivated to change?
Give them reminders to stay motivated. It might be interesting articles that highlight the behavior you want. Praise them when they are exhibiting this behavior. Ask them what would help them work on the new habit.
Finally, define and draw out what success looks like. How will they know when they get there?
Long-term change is difficult. If it wasn’t, everyone would be doing it.
Change starts with you (me). If we ever want others to make needed changes in their lives, we have to be willing to make necessary changes in ours lives.
My change from a smart phone that I was addicted to to a “smart enough phone” was prompted by the comment of a co-worker. I missed the opportunity to connect with someone because my emails and Facebook were more important. Never again!
What do you need to change in your life? Start today.
Dave Bell has directed day and resident camp programs for more than 15 years. Currently, he is the Executive Director of Camping Services for the YMCA of Greater Seattle. He is a former American Camp Association Southeast Section board member, a certified Y-USA Day Camp Director Trainer and a Y-USA partner YMCA camp consultant. Reach him via e-mail at email@example.com.