Why is change so challenging?
Why is it that 95% of people will not voluntarily create change in their lives?
Change is difficult.
If that is what you think about change, you are not the only one. It turns out that 95% of people will not voluntarily create change in their lives. That’s a very high percentage.
Not surprising. Change can be quite challenging, it can very quickly drop you into the unknown, it can create a lot of uncertainty and it can even be unpopular when the changes in question disrupt other people’s expectations of you.
The ironic thing is that although humans desperately try to avoid change, it is in fact the only constant in the universe.
Change is always happening to you and around you. It’s everywhere, all the time.
But many refuse to accept it gracefully and flow with it. We have become masters at minimizing or avoiding the effects of change on our lives. That is why many can remain in toxic job and relationship situations forever. That is why many can passively stand by while we are in the process of experiencing an environmental disaster on the planet. It is sometimes easier to see oneself as a victim rather than take bold actions to integrate desired or unexpected change into one’s life.
Our fear and avoidance of change are making us smaller and smaller.
We desperately cling to our belief systems, our ideas of the world, our place in society, our belongings, our hurts and sorrows as if nothing else was available to us. The narrative of our lives is often written from a lack and competition perspective. Perhaps that is why many envy those who seem to have it all: abundance, happiness, vitality, and success.
Fear is a great thief. Because of it, we forgo our dreams. We snicker at those who excel. We fear those who are different. We settle for mediocre lives, when in fact, the very nature of change inherently holds the potential for living extraordinary lives.
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein.
The ‘our thinking’ Einstein refers to is the narrative we tell ourselves individually and collectively. To bring about change, we need to change the story we tell ourselves. Easy? No! Not at all.
Changing our story is problematic because we are addicted to it.
We gain much from our status quo. It is predictable, somewhat comfortable and safe.
That certainly points to the fact that the discomfort that change can bring to our lives weighs more heavily than the status quo that we cling to – that seems true for 95% of the population.
After all, when we consider that there are biological, sociological, psychological, and economic reasons that see change as a threat, embracing change by choice can seem like a very counter-intuitive move.
Although there are many more reasons that could explain why creating change is difficult, a new reason was recently added to the list – ‘we have lost our minds’ or more precisely, ‘our minds have been stolen’. Consequently, although I stated earlier that ‘change is difficult’, it is more accurate to now say that ‘voluntary change has become nearly impossible’.
Before we answer this question, let us consider the elements that guide the change process.
To be embraced, change has to be relevant, meaningful and deeply desired. To identify the change that fits these criteria, we need to understand where we are coming from, where we are at now and where we want to go. A good self-evaluation process sets a solid foundation.
Setting goals allows for a clear and meaningful way to direct one’s energies. Without them, we have no way to gauge our progress and achievements.
A reorganization of one’s environment may be necessary to augment chances of success. This is often the most neglected step, and consequently the biggest reason why people fail to truly integrate permanent changes. Try going on a diet when your cupboards are filled with bags of chips and candies!
In real estate, location, location, location is a known mantra. In behavior modification, practice, practice, practice is it’s equivalent. This goes hand in hand with discipline and commitment.
Education versus entertainment is where the stakes are extremely high. One has the power to free your mind while the other has to power to enslave your mind. Are you aware of which monopolizes your attention?
Maintenance is crucial in any behavior modification desired. It is the part that anchors changes in the long run.
All of the above steps require focus and attention. Herein lies the answer to the above question: change has now become extremely difficult to navigate because our ability to focus has been gradually eroded to the point where most people have a great deal of difficulty to concentrate and focus for more than a few seconds. And this is extremely problematic.
Every day, more and more of your attention and focus are being very cleverly redirected into meaningless behaviors that can hypnotize you for hours.
Scrolling through a news feed on your mobile device can steal much of your precious attention with very little to show for it.
Spend the next couple of days looking around you rather than looking at the screen of your mobile device. You will very quickly come to realize one important thing.
The vast majority of people have become addicted to their mobile devices.
Since everyone is spending hours and hours scrolling each day, no one sees this to be problematic. You only realize the severity of the problem when you try to pull yourself away from the behaviors that are connected to Internet addiction. It’s like a sugar addiction. Sugar is in everything we consume today. Very few are actually aware of their addiction to it. Try stopping all sugars from your diet. You will quickly realize that you have an addiction to it! A withdrawal process would most likely be a painful process.
Focus and attention are crucial elements in the change process. Do you or is something else controlling your ability to focus?
If you want to bring change into your life, you need to be in control of how and where you place your attention. You will most likely need to make difficult choices. You will need to face possible addictions. You will need to be honest with yourself like never before.
There is no quick fix.
So ... still up for integrating change in your life?