What is Change?
The dictionary defines change as “To make or become different”. By undertaking change we attempt “to make or become different” in relation to our current state of affairs. Change can be self-directed or externally directed. Self-directed change is when we desire something different for our own lives. We then seek ways, techniques, strategies, and approaches that will make the desired change a reality. With externally directed change we do not undertake the task of change by our self. We rely on someone outside us to provide us guidance, direction, and support to bring about the change.
Change for the Better
There is a famous quote that goes as “Change is the only constant in Life”. This means that we are constantly changing in some way or the other, consciously or unconsciously. We are learning and growing every day. We adopt new beliefs, give up old ones, make new friendships, give up old ones, learn new things, unlearn some things. We are always changing. That being said, it is important to know for us to know when change is being demanded, when we are navigating change and how it is we are dealing with it. This means we must be aware of what is happening in the reality that is causing and influencing us to change. If the change we are experiencing is building us, and making us more empowered, that is a positive change. If on the other hand, we are changing in ways that make us weaker, less empowered, less resilient, less motivated – that change is not positive.
Change generally involves some form of action – mental, physical, emotional or spiritual. In turn, the actions need to be managed appropriately so that we do not detract from the expected outcome. Managing change involves being able to successfully handle the transition stages between where we are and where we want to be. It might demand that we be adaptive and flexible, willing and ready to do what is needed from us. There may be new skills that need to be learned, old skills sharpened, resources that need to be utilized efficiently, and even behaviors that need to be modified during the process. Each of us responds to these demands differently. One of the ways in which this can be managed is to plan.
Planning for Change
When we are going to undertake change, a crucial step is to plan. By planning we are taking the time to understand and acknowledge the additional demands that will be placed upon us. During planning we must consider the following:
- Our reasons for change
- List the potential problems
- List the potential risks
- List the potential obstacles
- List the potential setbacks
- List the action steps necessary
- List the conflicting ideas that oppose the change
- Create cost-benefit analysis for that change; List the gains of the change – List the losses of the change
- Clearly identify the outcomes of the change
- List all the things that will get impacted by the change (relationships, lifestyle, health, etc.)
- List the level of commitment required
- List the level of engagement/involvement required
- Is the desired change realistically possible for me?
Am I ready for change? Am I change(able)?
It is also important to realize that change “demands more from us”. If we are not already living out the change we desire, there is something inside us that is resisting that very thing. When we find ourselves struggling with making a change it might a good idea to work through the resistance. We could also find someone who can help us uncover that resistance if it is not something we can seem to uncover for ourselves. The table below is a reference for some reasons why we might find ourselves procrastinating or delaying change.
|Being Lazy||We don’t want to do the real work or put in the effort. We would rather have a rescuer (someone who will tirelessly be there to help or salvage us from our situations)|
|Self-Doubt/ Self Belief||xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx||We are holding onto some reasons as to why we don’t have it in us to do what is needed to change. We doubt our ability to bring about change.|
|Too hard on themselves||We beat ourselves up too hard when they encounter any failure or don’t match our own sometimes unrealistic expectations. (Perfectionism)|
|Thinking Styles||We indulge in unhealthy thinking styles and keep ruminating in the negatives|
|Self-Pride||We have an underlying belief that only “weak” people have to change, and we don’t want to view ourselves as weak.|
|External stimulus for change||We are not intrinsically motivated to change. It could be that someone else is pushing us to change but we really don’t see the point of it.|
|Discomfort Level||We are not really very distressed/uncomfortable by their current status quo.|
|Bad Habits||We possess some habits that can stand in the way of making necessary shifts and we are not willing to let go of these habits.|
|Security in where they are at||We derive level of security in staying where we are at. There could be underlying fears that we would need to be address before progress can be made. We are not aware or unwilling to address these. For example, we could have fears such as: Fear of Failure, Fear of Success, Fear of Uncertainty, Fear of having to let go, Fear of loss of people, Fear of loss of face) that are holding us back.|
|Self-Pity||We derive some pleasure in staying/playing the victim role. Maybe we like the attention (sympathy from others) that comes with playing the role.|
|Attitude||We believe we are so deep into a “Hole” (problem) that there is “No redemption or hope” for us and hence any change is pointless.|
|Not a priority||We want to make changes but have other priorities. We are not willing to put in the necessary time or effort at the current time.|
|Self-Worth Issues||We don’t believe we are deserving of anything better. Our internal sense of self is so low that they will unconsciously self-sabotage all attempts of progress.|
So, where do you stand when confronted with change? Are we change(able)? Are we resistant to change? What is the resistance?
This article explains change, what change demands from us, what we must consider when we decide to undertake change and also some reasons that might be preventing us from making change.