Change is Scary – feel the Fear and Take the Leap

We often talk about change, the need for change and few of us can argue with Charles Darwin’s finding:

“It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”

But changing is hard, and change is scary.

Changing takes a lot of effort and emotional energy, and the chances are if you are in a position where you should be making a significant change in your life, or your business, you are already using up all of your emotional energy struggling to manage the situation that you find yourself in.

Often it is difficult to predict if a change will make our business more successful or our lives happier. We feel that we know what will happen if we don’t change and we have developed mechanisms to deal with that. Even if we are struggling with the problems that surround us now, the fear of the unknown and the problems that we might cause by making a change can paralyse us from making the changes we know we should. It is a human trait, often known as status quo bias, which makes us predisposed to favour sticking to what we know instead of taking the risk to change.

And a recent study by Steven Levitt, University of Chicago economist and co-author of Freakonomics,shows that it is an instinct that we should fight against. In an experiment studying 20,000 cases where people were struggling to make a difficult change decision, those that took the leap and made the change reported being significantly happier than they were before the decision both 2 months and 6 months after making the change. In summary Levitt left us with the advice that:

“A good rule of thumb in decision making is, whenever you cannot decide what you should do, choose the action that represents a change, rather than continuing the status quo.”

While all this may sound scary as you step off into a void of uncertainty, you must remember that our perceptions of the comfort and safety of not changing might not be as well founded as you first think. If the last 3 years have shown us anything it should be that sometimes we can no longer rely on the status quo. We must also get back to the reasons why we were talking about changing in the first place, revisit the drivers for change in your life and your business, rekindle the sense of urgency and exchange the fear of change into an excitement and anticipation of the opportunities that change presents.

Be brave, be bold and look forward to smelling the flowers once you have made the changes you know you should!


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