Change is so hard for us because we are familiar with the path we’re on and we like familiarity. Familiarity gives us a sense of balance, ease, and steadiness. These are strong feelings. So strong that even if we know there is a better path to take we need an enormous amount of energy to overcome these feelings.
Let’s look at an example.
You realize that your life has turned into working and sleeping. You want to have more of a life outside of work. You remember when you used to have all sorts of plans for different things you wanted to do. You decide that you had better start doing some of those things; after all, you aren’t getting any younger. Determined to change, you schedule yourself for that evening class you’ve always wanted to take. The day of first class comes and an “emergency” at work keeps you late. No problem, missing one class isn’t that bad. The second day of class arrives and something else keeps you from making it. For the next few class dates you find yourself making excuses why this isn’t a good time to go. Before you realize it the class is over and you are no closer to learning what was in it.
What happened? You know what you want; you put a plan in place to achieve it yet it still didn’t happen. Change sure is hard! Let’s look at the example in terms of the three factors discussed earlier. You’ve gotten into the routine of working and sleeping, forgoing almost everything else. So to change that routine requires you to break your sense of balance with that routine. This causes the ease at which you follow that routine to be thrown off, creating tension. And that puts the steadiness of working and sleeping at jeopardy. Our minds have a hard enough time dealing with one of these factors so when all three are off we resist the change, making it hard.
Change doesn’t have to be hard. If you persevere you can get through any change. Now that you know why that change was so difficult maybe we can make it easier to get through it. We know that there will be resistance to being off balance, in tension, and unsteady. Maybe we can lessen the tension by pushing back at work when “emergencies” arise. How can you explain to work that you will be more affective there if you have some “down time?” Who are some other people that would encourage your desire to take the class and help you to get there? What are the benefits to you if you were in balance with doing those things that you’ve always dreamed about? What would your routine look like once you have adjusted to the new routine? What kind of balance, ease, and steadiness would there be?
The key to any change is to answer the questions and move into it one step at a time. Real changes that make our lives better can be accomplished if we find the small steps that move us toward the goal. By succeeding with the small steps we find a new balance, ease, and steadiness to follow. Before you know it, you’ve moved into a new routine and your life is much better for it. Give yourself the time, be mindful, and keep at it. When you know the reason for why change feels so hard, it gets to feel easier.