We do change Prime Ministers a lot in Australia. The first change in Prime Minister I really remember was Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser and I was eight. The first Prime Minister change my daughter remembers was John Howard and Keven Rudd, and she was nine (Do you remember the campaign slogan?). Do you remember when John Howard was Prime Minister?
John Howard, while he was Prime Minister, would try and do a 4-5km walk every morning no matter what his schedule was, regardless of the weather, and no matter what country he was in. He was (potentially embarrassingly) famous for walking around Australia, and the world, in an Australian Wallabies tracksuit. One of those tracksuit tops is now stored as a museum piece, and in Canberra you can do the 'John Howard Walk of Wonder' in acknowledgement of his commitment to everyday activity. He encouraged everyone to do a walk every day. If his schedule was so busy that he missed it a few days in a row he really felt the loss.
There is a sense that Australia changes Prime Ministers as often as you need to change your smoke alarm battery (that would be annually), but we have had a mixed history (some long terms; some short terms). Given that we have another change in Prime Minister today, I thought it would be a good opportunity to look at Australia's reputation for change (as a nation, we seem to like a change), and take a moment to think about our personal approach to handling change.
There have been 14 Australian Prime Minister's since I was born (An average of 4yrs overall; range 0.2yrs - 11.8yrs). Three of those Prime Ministers had long and steady terms of office; the others, not so much. A politician needs to be re-elected every 3 years in Australia to remain eligible to be Prime Minister. So if you managed to be Prime Minister for more than 3 years, you probably made it through one election. Recently we had a period where we had a new Prime Minister every year. Clinicians sometimes ask patients the name of the Prime Minister to test retrograde memory. I think that is not really a fair question in Australia.
How does all this change make you feel? Does change make you nervous or do you like the adventure of it?
Apart from Prime Ministers, there are other things that change. We might have to move towns, start a new job, even adopt some new lifestyle habits. Do you create change in your life, or do you only deal with change when it happens to you (ask yourself - are you 'change averse' , do you avoid change as much as possible?)
The mantra 'life happens' is true of change as well. Change does happen. Learning how to manage our response to change helps make change a more transitional process rather than a destructive one.
If change makes you nervous, maybe these ideas will help:
Acknowledge that it is going to happen, and some of it will be enjoyable, and some less so. It is ok to recognise that it won't all be good.
Ask yourself 'What am I afraid of?', We are often nervous about something when change happens. Name that smaller specific aspect of the change which makes you nervous. Starting to see that aspect clearly often helps in the process of working out ways to target specific solutions for those individual smaller challenges.
Be patient, kind and compassionate with yourself. We often want to be able to 'handle' change and be comfortable with the new change straight away. This is not always feasible, and that is the way life works. Even people who enjoy and appreciate change take time to get comfortable and fully embrace a new change into their life.
Find your way. Change doesn't always mean you have to follow the same path of change that everyone else is walking. Change can be good, otherwise we are stagnating, but it doesn't mean we have to follow others. Find a path and pace of change that works for you.
What action can you take?
Could you take this opportunity at a time when Australia has a change in Prime Minster, as a trigger to think about what lifestyle habit you might like to embrace to make a difference in your general health and well being? Then let's see what happens first - you embed this new habit into your routine, or we get another new Prime Minister. It's Australia, anything can happen. Oh, and by the way, don't forget to change your smoke alarm battery.
In the spirit of change, think about your life and take a moment to identify if there is something that you need to change. Do you need to be more proactive rather than waiting for change to happen to you?
Let me know in the comments below how you feel about change. Are you currently on a change adventure? How is it going?