Change: incremental or monumental?

I’ve been writing a poem on the theme of change for my poetry group next month and it started me thinking about change in relation to personal growth (to be fair, it’s not very often I’m not thinking about this in some capacity, being a bit of a self-improvement junkie).

But is got me wondering: how many of us long for big, life sweeping changes? An exciting adventure or opportunity to steal us away from the same old, same old? An epiphany of life changing proportions that drops us into an entirely new state of being?

I dream of all sorts of things: travelling the world with my family, becoming a successful writer, achieving spiritual enlightenment.

It’s great to have dreams and aspirations. The sticking point is the melancholy that comes when these seemingly massive changes fail to materialise. We begin to feel like they might never happen; we become despondent, and sometimes we give up on these dreams.

But perhaps we need to take a step back and allow for the long view.

Ever heard of the butterfly effect?

I’m talking about the theory, not the movie. The idea is that everything in the world is connected, and we have no idea how a small and seemingly inconsequential action might impact the future in such a complex world, the illustration being the flap of a butterfly’s wings culminating in a typhoon. From this point of view, we just don’t know what the impact of that kind word or smile, that phone call to a friend or that beautiful picture you posted on Instagram might be.

When the futility of it all comes crashing down, just take a pause, take a breath and then take the smallest step you can towards the thing that brings you joy.

I’ve been procrastinating for over a year about exploring avenues to publish my poetry, mainly because I’m labouring under the (true) illusion that poetry is not a reliable engine of wealth (thanks Johnny Clarke, I like this one so much I’ve got it on a t-shirt, which my parents bought for me-point proven).

But this is a barrier set by my old story, which says that nothing is worth doing without monetary recompense (I’m coming to realise that many of the best things in life really are free). So if I’m not in it for the money, then why? Well I’d like a wider readership, what writer wouldn’t? But the main reason is because I feel a pull to do so. There’s a voice telling me I should at least try to get a poem published. If I follow this pull, who knows what will happen? Maybe nothing, maybe something. One thing is for certain, if I do nothing then nothing will definitely happen.

So today I took the first step: I fired up the search engine and began looking for poetry anthologies and competitions accepting submissions.  I found three likely prospects, one of which sounded particularly interesting, and I made a note of them.

That’s it.  The smallest step in the right direction.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll take another.

There’s a lot to be said for changes that are slow and steady, which is good for me because that’s my default speed (unless I’m exercising, then I take it up a few notches…unless I’m running, then it’s slow and steady again).

Incremental change allows us to adapt along with it. We can slowly develop and progress, have time to backtrack, sidestep, zig zag and go around in circles for a bit and still get to the place we held in our minds eye; or maybe life takes us in a completely unexpected direction. Wherever the little changes take us, it’s only in looking back after years that we can see how far we’ve come, that we’re able to appreciate the hurdles, frustrations, opportunities and moments that helped us to grow and, if we’re lucky, sometimes we can see the interconnectedness of it all.

This kind of change, the kind that’s woven into the fabric of our lives over a long period of time, seems to be the kind of change that lasts.  We grow so slowly we almost don’t appreciate that we’ve grown at all.

Making monumental changes can be fun and exciting, but slow and steady can be just as satisfying in the long run.

Photo by Laura Reed on

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7 thoughts on “Change: incremental or monumental?

  1. Incremental change seems more normal to me than monumental changes. Of course I might be saying that because Covid-19 was/is monumental change, and I don’t like that virus at all. Transferring my hatred of it onto the concept in general.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hadn’t though about it in respect of the virus but I agree Ally, I don’t think many of us have dealt well with such a monumental change, perhaps a monumental change for the better would be more welcome.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Incremental change for me. However, I agree with Ally Bean about the monumental change that Covid has brought to most people’s lives, but a lot of positivity can come from being forced into extreme change. You find out where your dark corners really are and from those can emerge into a brighter light than before. We shall see. I can see you writing a book along the lines of “ Diary of a self improvement junkie “, using all your insightful, engaging , thought provoking and often very funny writings about your life , your journey as a writer,and taking the reader along for the ride. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • “You find out where your dark corners really are and from those can emerge into a brighter light than before.”

      I think perhaps you’ve got a book in you too lovely Mandy, what beautiful words ❤️ and very true

      I’ve got about 150,000 words of journaling (in addition to the blog 😳) & my daughter keeps telling me to make into a book, my stock response is that no one would want to read my ramblings at length 😂

      I love the working title though, I shall give it some thought 🤔

      Thanks lovely 🥰xx


  3. Monumental changes are so exciting! But feel like little hits and then bored and seeking the next one. Can’t imagine a life full of those, I’d imagine it would be largely empty in looking back.

    Feels like things full of meaning do take time to really see the growth. The highs aren’t as high but the happiness and meaning last longer. Can look back years later with warmth about those.

    Also, that’s awesome you are looking to get your poetry published! It’s great for the soul to support your passions I let them shine. To share. I throughly enjoy reading your poems and they encourage me to keep working on my own. 🌻

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chasing the hit of dopamine but always needing to go bigger and better to get the same feeling can definitely lead to feelings of emptiness in the long term.

      I agree, the most meaningful changes don’t necessarily feel that way in the moment but are the ones we can look back on and think, ‘that was brilliant.’

      Thanks so much for you lovely words about my poetry, it means a lot to know that you enjoy reading them (as I really enjoy writing them 😊)

      Your poetry is beautiful and straight from the heart, I loved the imagery in your latest poem 💓

      Liked by 1 person

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