The Key to Change

Imagine if you woke this morning, and one of your biggest wishes came true. The weight is gone. The money is there. The relationship is fixed. There is one catch: you can’t replicate it. You are still out of shape. You don’t know how to save or earn more. You still have behaviors and emotions that are damaging. In short, you didn’t go through the process.

We all want the prize, the end goal, but we fail to see how necessary the process. This is why shortcuts are so prevalent in our society. We often just want to be done with it and move on to the next project.

I teach writing at a community college. Most of my students are beginning writers. They either struggled in high school or are returning to school after entering the workplace. Each semester I receive over 500 essays. A small portion, let’s 1 percent are plagiarized. A greater portion like 10 percent have been heavily edited by friend who has better writing skills, and about 15 percent are just shiny first drafts where there is little sign of revision or thought beyond just typing it. In each case, they avoided the process. 

When I asked them why they did one of these three things? The answer is simple: time and effort. “I didn’t have the time.” or “I was too hard.” Writing is not easy. In a recent tweet, writer Ben Greenman wrote, “Writing is a form of translation where you’re not allowed to see the original text.” So often we can hear or see in our head, but it seems impossible to get on the page or screen. 

My admonition is not to just love the process and not the product or end. The project is what drives the process, but we need what we learned in the process when we begin again.

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