I believe that we face a choice between change and the status quo more often than we realize. This lack of realization too often leads to subconscious choices made emotionally. I’m certain that you’ll agree that some of the poorest choices you’ve made have been made when in an emotional state. So how do you assure that your future choices are made consciously and devoid of emotion?
To answer this question, let’s explore change and the status quo in more detail.
Every time that I hear the word change, I recall a bit of wisdom I heard decades ago: change is fun if you’re the one initiating it. I doubt that truer words were ever spoken.
When we initiate change it doesn’t feel like change; it feels like desire and passion. It’s exciting and energizing. We’re filled with joy at the prospect of what something new offers. We can’t wait to get started. Our excitement consumes our thoughts to the point that we see ways of dealing with the potential obstacles we can foresee and confidence in our ability to deal with those we can’t anticipate. That’s a good thing because, in reality, when our passion is high and our pursuit relentless, success is assured.
That doesn’t mean that there won’t be bumps in the road, obstacles to overcome, challenges to our commitment, but our passion helps us view these as learning that needs to occur along the way to success.
Changes that are not of our making are a different story. Instead of passion and desire, energy and excitement, we experience doubt, fear and anxiety. These emotions cause us to resist the change we’re facing. We feel put upon, victimized and, potentially, hopeless.
We feel all these emotions despite the fact that we’ve never failed to successfully deal with any situation we’ve ever faced. If you doubt that, answer this question: “When in your life have you faced a situation in which you’ve had no background or experience and failed to produce a favorable result…one that satisfied your needs?” The answer I always receive when I’ve ask this question is “never.”
Realizing that you’ve never failed to produce a result gives you the confidence you need to set aside the initial doubts, fears and anxiety you feel when change isn’t of your making.
The status quo is comfortable. We know what to expect. We don’t have to expend much energy to continue getting the result we’re getting. Nor are we plagued by the doubts, fear and anxiety that often accompany change.
One of the problems with the status quo is that we become complacent. Complacency is the earliest stage of decline. When we stop challenging ourselves, we quit learning. Our skills, while considerable, aren’t growing, which will ultimately put us at a disadvantage in a dynamic, ever-changing world. It also puts us in a position to have change foist upon us, rather than being something we initiate.
Another problem with the status quo is that we lose our sense of purpose in life. We begin to feel like a plodding horse or a hamster on the wheel to nowhere. As these feelings become more intense, we lose our sense of being valued and valuable.
These are not feelings we would consciously choose for ourselves, but subconsciously, due to the comfort we’re experiencing, this is the choice we make when we treasure the status quo.
Live life to the fullest. Initiate change in your life by pursuing what intrigues you. If later you find that you are no longer excited by what you’re doing, find another interest to pursue. Make these choices consciously, based on objective analysis, instead of subconsciously, based on the emotions you’re experiencing.
One way to assure that you’re making a conscious decision is to pause before considering your options. During the pause, any emotions you’re experiencing instantly wane. Your mind returns to an unemotional, nonjudgmental state which opens your mind to a much broader array of options than you experience in an emotional state.
Once you’ve freed yourself of emotion, evaluate your options and make a conscious choice. Choices made this way tend to be the right choice more often than not. But in those instances when the choice isn’t producing the desired result, realize that you have the right to make another choice. Just make sure to pause before making a new choice.
For our kids
First and foremost, live this message. As kids see you initiate change and the joy that you experience for having made the choice, as they see that some choices don’t work as you’d hoped and that you’ve made new choices, they’ll mimic your behavior.
As they face changes in their lives, help them understand that change is inevitable. Help them see that what makes change fun and exciting or frightening and painful is determined by whether they are choosing to change or having it imposed upon them.
Also let them know that when change is not of their choosing, something we all experience at times, all they need to do is pause to let their emotions subside before deciding on how they’re going to deal with the change. They will thank you for making their lives simpler and more joyful.
Let others know that you love them by sharing this blog post. They’ll appreciate that you care.
I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your favorite change stories in a comment.
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Dale, Thank you for your invaluable insights. On the topic of change I often think about what critical thinker, author and novelist says that there are always circumstances we can’t control and it is easier to ride along in the direction things are headed rather than rail against them!
Bill, I couldn’t agree with the author more. Railing against what’s happening is wasted energy. Conversely, going with the flow while looking for a way to redirect the flow to a more favorable conclusion always produces better results with less energy expended. Thanks for sharing.