Team of engineers designing next generation product prototypes.
Life is never static. It’s one of the reasons that we enjoy living. And yet most people fear change. It has been said that change is the only real constant in life. If that is true, why are people so resistant to change? Generally, most people don’t take too kindly to change especially when it is thrust upon them without their input.
Turns out, we like some control with our change. But that runs contrary to most of our lives which, some would argue, are not in our complete control. This is one of the reasons why radical innovations are sometimes not accepted by the marketplace for quite some time if at all. Run the other way if someone says,” To be successful, all we have to do is change consumer behavior.”
So, if change is constant and we cannot control quite a bit of what makes up our lives, how do we become more comfortable with change? Here are some insights that might help you.
When change happens, don’t do anything. Our tendency when change happens unexpectedly is to over-react to the situation. It’s a natural tendency and I would propose that you do just the opposite. Don’t react immediately. Go for a walk, calm down and take the time to think about what is happening. Sleep on it and wake up with a new point of view or even an action plan. Look at the pros and cons of the change and evaluate what you really want and if the change really matters in the long run.
Take care of yourself. Sometimes change can come as a shock or something that just disturbs our routine. It’s okay for you to be a little selfish and take care of yourself in these moments. That could mean taking a day off and doing little things that make you happy. Maybe it’s indulging in a favorite meal or taking a drive to a relaxing place. You own your happiness so take the time to adjust to the change that is happening by taking care of yourself.
Ignore your fight or flee instinct. Sometimes when change happens, our natural instinct is to “fight or flee.” It’s natural that we want to act in an aggressive or defensive manner. Ignore those feelings and go somewhere where you can calm down. When I had these moments in building our company, I would walk out of our office and go for a walk on the Portland riverfront. Honestly, I always made better decisions after a long walk.
You don’t need to have an answer for everything. Again, when confronted with change, we seem to think we need to have all the answers to any situation. Relax, you don’t need to know everything. This is where good friends and mentors come in. Especially mentors. Mentors seem to have this ability to be neutral and to make you think as they probably like you but they might not be a close friend. This impartiality provides a real balance to the situation and often gives you several points of view that you can consider before you respond to the change.
Constantly gather new perspectives. Change is not so dramatic if you have been constantly gathering new knowledge and perspectives as part of your commitment to be a more well rounded person. Change only shocks those people who are stuck in a narrow point of view or routine. By always embracing new information or changing up your routine, you are actually better adjusting yourself to the roller coaster of life.
Evolve and embrace change. What were you born to do? My personal belief is that no one was born to do anything so you can actually do whatever you want. Life is too short to just be a lawyer, accountant and marketer. What else do you want to accomplish? How many careers do you want? Research indicates that Millennials and Gen Z will have up to seven careers. I am currently on my fifth. Life is a marathon not a sprint, enjoy the run.
Learn to live with uncertainty. What would life be like if you could predict exactly who would win the Super Bowl, who would marry who and what the winning numbers are on the lottery? The absolute certainly of life, if we knew it, would honestly be boring. If you want to get comfortable with change, then introduce little elements of uncertainly into your life. Change your routine, read books you would ordinarily never read, eat at a new restaurant, order a meal you have never had, travel to place you never considered.
Don’t just sit there, evolve. C.S. Lewis once described humans and our behaviors like an egg. “You cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg,” he said. “You must be hatched, or go bad.” So how do you evolve? Quietly, doggedly, simply. Little things become big things. Improving 1% in one area every day will become a 3700% increase in just one year!
This is how you become a better version of yourself every day by continually developing your life. Achieving the life of your dreams and experiencing continuous personal evolution means commitment to the long game. You become the person you want to be not by enormous lifestyle changes, but slow, manageable tweaks over time.