Community update from Kenosha Vocational Ministry: The consistency of change |


Most of us spend a great deal of energy trying to manage our future only to feel like a windmill tilting against the wind. We do much spinning, but we do not seem to move forward. Many great minds have tried to make sense of this and have come to some challenging conclusions.

Benjamin Franklin said that when you are finished changing you are finished. A bold statement but one I have seen reflected in the lives of those around me many times. At Kenosha Vocational Ministry this theme, and variations of it, are at the core of our work with people who have painted themselves into a corner. Although change is critical to bring a life and its attending relationships into harmony it often looks like a mountain to high to attempt climbing.

Every day presents new challenges and a potential destabilizing of our vision of what should happen next. It was Plato, quoting Heraclitus of Ephesus, who said, “I believe that all things pass and nothing stays,” and comparing existing things to the flow of a river, he says “you could not step twice into the same river.” These ideas can be a comfort or a reason to question the worth of our efforts. It can be easy to think that in our lives the mountain only gets larger due to change. However, leaning into our change has been proven to release dopamine, a natural brain chemical that plays a role in pleasure, motivation, and learning. Stanford neuroscientist, Andrew Huberman, in his research has confirmed that dopamine is not only released in the accomplishment of a goal but also in the striving for the goal and even the planning of that goal. Jordan Peterson, clinical psychologist, says we were built to strive. It is in the striving that we become more ourselves. It is also how we stay motivated.

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So, staying motivated to pursue meaningful change is not a result of the power of positive thinking. It is a way of life that works to create forward motion in the face of adversity. This fuels the motivation through the release of dopamine and helps to keep us on a track of good mental and emotional health. We also reap the benefits of attainments, betterments and lessons learned along the way. Jesus echoes this ancient line of thinking when he says, “In the world you shall have hard trials, be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Without change there is no growth and likely no progress. This is at the heart of life’s conundrum. Although we must plan, we find that any plan has to be “course corrected” due to unanticipated variables. Sometimes charting a new course is the only logical thing to do. I like to remind myself of a quote by James Clear in his book Atomic Habits – “Every action you take is a clear vote for who you want to become. “

James Schatzman is executive director for the Kenosha Vocational Ministry.

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