(30 Things To Stop Spending Time On If You Want to Be Successful #20)
“It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.”
— James Gordon
We often use the environment we were born into, the way we were raised, or the things we’ve been taught as excuses to hold on to defeating habits and negative ways of thinking that in turn only hold us back from reaching our goals. We are often resistant to change and we aren’t consciously aware that we are this way because we don’t understand that change is constant.
It is helpful to understand the underlying psychological nostalgia that we all have when it comes to change. It’s a strange sentimentality that we have for the past and for keeping things the way they are and continuing to do things in the way they have always been done. Change impacts our psychosocial wellbeing and our cognitive functions in more ways than we imagine.
And it isn’t that we fear change so much. Of course, there is an element of fear that comes with adjustments and amendments. But it is much more that we sincerely and honestly believe within ourselves, at least on the level of our subconscious, that the way things have always been done must be an absolutely perfect way to do things and thus there is no need for change. The longer techniques are used the better we get at using them. Right?
So change isn’t just about welcoming and embracing a new belief or a new habit or a new way of life, it is also about giving up and even rejecting an old belief, habit, or way of life that is no longer working. People usually avoid change and prefer to stay in their zone of comfort which is familiar and safe. However, I believe that change is both important and necessary. And once we get up the courage to take the first step in the direction of positive change, our lives will be better for it.
Change is scary. It takes us out of our comfort zone. When we launch off into the unknown which is a lot of what change is, we are often not as in control as we want to be. Change challenges us to try new things, to think about new ideas, to do things in a new way, and to be a new person. The interesting thing about change is that it is often met with resistance. It’s almost a joke or cliche to say that the only constant thing is change. But change has a way of affecting all of us.
Resistance shows up in many forms that manifest themselves as threats. Some of these threats are internal such as procrastination, negative self talk, and sabotage. Other threats are external and come about in the form of passive-aggressive behavior, avoidance, and hostility. It is one thing to avoid change just to avoid these threats. Doing so brings on a whole set of different problems. But it is another thing to know that change is needed and necessary and jump into it without prior assessment.
We avoid change in our lives for several reasons. First, we fear the unknown; change often surprises us and drags us out into the deep of nowhere without prior warning, leaving us many times to figure it all out. Second, loss of security; we fear what not having the familiar and comfortable around will do to us and our goals. Third, mistrust; we don’t trust ourselves or other people and so we’re more likely to resist the implementation of change because we feel we might not be in control as we like.
Fourth, laziness; we don’t want to put in the energy and time to do the tough stuff needed to bring about change, even change that is necessary. Fifth, we believe longevity equals better; this is true in some cases, but not always. Perhaps if GM has been making the best cars around for 100 years using one formula, then it might be beneficial to keep that formula. On the other hand, if you’ve been on a diet intending to lose weight but haven’t drop one pound, it might be time for a change. Sixth, breaking up is very hard to do; overcoming group think often mans leaving behind the status quo which often means leaving behind some friends which can be painful.
So how do we overcome our fear of change? Well, like everything else in life, it involves a choice. We must be honest with ourselves about how much we hate change and how badly we need it. Once we get it in our psyche that this change is necessary and good, we will be more willing to let ourselves do the work to implement the change no matter how difficult it is.
This leads me to my next point about stress. Implementing change in your life is never painless because it is never as simple as it sounds. It involves a good deal of stress and birth pangs. But if you’re going to be successful, enduring those pains is necessary.
Relationship and family therapist, Roger S. Gil said, “Rewriting your own ‘source code’ is supposed to be hard. It’ll get harder to rewrite over time but if you don’t do it, you’ll eventually be left with a bunch of useless code that can’t run on current platforms. Give yourself permission to feel the change-related distress and all of the associated emotions that come along with it. It sucks but not allowing yourself to process those emotions will prevent you from moving forward. If you don’t process them you’ll have to isolate yourself from all things that represent the ‘distressing’ change just to be able to function.”
So to ensure you don’t live your life avoiding change, make sure you are willing to open the door for positive change in your life. Take time to plan for change and assess what type of impact it will have on you, the people around you, and your overall environment. Understand that stress is all part of the process of change. Change triggers progress, brings about new beginnings and induces excitement about the possibilities.
Remember the main character, Harold Crick, in the movie Stranger than Fiction? Crick plays an agent for the IRS but does things the same exact way for a long time. This allows him to live a pretty uninteresting and predictable life. Without the constant of change, that is how our lives would end up. So the next time you are tempted to resist change, think about all the exciting, unpredictable, interesting things that exist on the other side of change.
And remember, if there were no good change in the world, rainbows would never appear in the sky, butterflies would never push through cocoons, and babies would never grow into adults.
“He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.”
— Harold Wilson