Embracing Change in the New Year: Navigating the Elephant and Rider Within

As we stand on the brink of a new year, the air is thick with resolutions and promises of change. It’s that time when we reflect on the past and set intentions for the future. But, if we’re honest with ourselves, change can be a daunting prospect. The mere thought of it can evoke a mix of excitement and fear, anticipation and hesitation. So, as the New Year beckons, the question arises: Are you ready for change?

Change, like the turn of a calendar page, is inevitable. Yet, it’s our feelings about change that often present the greatest hurdles. The emotional rollercoaster of uncertainty, fear of the unknown, and the comfort of the familiar can leave us feeling like a small rider perched on a mighty elephant, trying to navigate the path ahead.

We initially wrote about the elephant and its rider in 2018, a metaphor that perfectly encapsulates the intricate dance between our emotional and rational selves. The rider, representing our rational side, is in the driver’s seat—or so it seems. In reality, the rider is a tiny entity atop a massive elephant, holding the reins but constantly at the mercy of the emotional behemoth beneath.

Our emotions, symbolized by the elephant, are not inherently negative. Love, compassion, and sympathy, are strengths that can propel us forward. However, they can also be the very forces that resist change. The rider, on the other hand, possesses the ability to think long-term, to see beyond the immediate moment. But, like any strength, this can become a weakness—leading to overthinking.

The key realization here is that both emotional and rational aspects are integral to making lasting changes. The rider provides the planning and direction, while the elephant supplies the necessary energy. Acting in isolation, the rider’s overthinking and the elephant’s reluctance ensure that the status quo remains unchallenged. However, when these two forces move in harmony, change becomes not only possible but surprisingly effortless.

So, how do we embrace change in the New Year, recognizing the dynamics of our internal elephant and rider? Here are some steps you can take.

  1. Acknowledge the strength in your emotions. Love and compassion are powerful catalysts for change. They fuel the energy needed to overcome the inertia of the familiar. Instead of viewing emotions as mere roadblocks, see them as the driving force behind meaningful transformation.
  2. Leverage the rider’s ability to plan and think long-term. When setting goals for the New Year, allow your rational side to guide the way. Break down the change you seek into manageable steps, providing a clear roadmap for both the rider and the elephant to follow.
  3. Find a balance. Recognize when your rider is stuck in the quagmire of overthinking and when your elephant is digging its heels in resistance. When the two work together, change becomes a collaborative effort rather than a battleground.

 

As we step into the New Year, let’s remember that change is not the enemy. It’s an opportunity for growth, a chance to become the best version of ourselves. The New Year is indeed a time to think about change. It’s about embracing the synergy between the elephant and rider within, recognizing that both emotions and rationality play vital roles in our journey of transformation. So, as the calendar turns, let the rider guide with clarity, and the elephant propel with vigor—making 2023 a year of positive, purposeful change.

Diane Bourdo, CFP®
Diane Bourdo, CFP®

Diane Bourdo is the President of The Humphreys Group. Diane has dedicated her life’s work to helping women make smart financial decisions. For nearly 30 years, she has developed investment management and financial planning strategies that allow her clients to create lives that reflect their values. Diane was named an InvestmentNews 2020 Women to Watch and has been recognized in Forbes, SF Chronicle, NY Times and more for her work and writing.

Diane Bourdo, CFP®
Diane Bourdo, CFP®

Diane Bourdo is the President of The Humphreys Group. Diane has dedicated her life’s work to helping women make smart financial decisions. For nearly 30 years, she has developed investment management and financial planning strategies that allow her clients to create lives that reflect their values. Diane was named an InvestmentNews 2020 Women to Watch and has been recognized in Forbes, SF Chronicle, NY Times and more for her work and writing.

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