Sunday, September 7, 2008

Why is Change so Difficult?

This has nothing to do with the presidential election or campaign slogans. I want to know why even the most adaptable people are apprehensive of change even when their current situation is downright miserable, frustrating, degrading, or stagnant, etc etc. That describes me and probably many other people.

Take a job for example. I don't subscribe to the notion that you should love everything about your job, and should want to go everyday and look forward to Mondays etc. This is because I work to take personal responsibility in my life, to pay my bills, contribute to my family, and help pay for some of the fun things we like to do. However I don't subscribe to the notion that you have to put up with a job that's unfulfilling of your needs and desires in a job. For example, if you work in a high stress, tons of overtime environment that leaves you no time to relax and enjoy your family and life, you don't have to stay in that job. There are other jobs out there that will be respectful of your personal time. On the other end of the spectrum is the job that is unchallenging, offers no growth, and might possibly overpay you for all the boredom you experience in it, even though you know you are worth much more than that particular job pays you and are capable of doing more.

It's not easy to find that perfect job with the happy medium of challenging and decent-paying as well as respectful of your personal time. However if we find ourselves not in this job and unsatisfied with our current situation, why is it so difficult to explore other options? And even when you do, the thought of going to a new place where they don't know you or what you are capable of is scary. What if you screw up in the first week, month, or year for that matter? What if you asking a question is perceived as weakness?
How are they going to respond to these situations? Is there a learning curve?

No matter how much you may try to make sure the company culture is a fit for you in the interview process, you never know for sure until you make the transition and find out for yourself.

Sometimes the change isn't just about changing jobs, but about changes that occur within your company. I once worked for a company going through a computer system change. I was even younger than I am now and am still not intimidated by computers or new systems. Also my job function at the time included working with a computer. Some people were going to be asked to change from paperwork to computers. And some of them were terrified, irritated, and resistant to this change, even though it should improve efficiency for their job function and ideally save them time by eliminating all the paperwork they normally did. But they were so used to doing it a certain way for so long that the thought of changing was scary.

In any case, change is inevitable and we should all embrace it and chase it aggressively. Unless you are about to retire in a year or two. Then it's up to you and the change that's being asked of you. I'd say do whatever you have to to keep your job though if you're about to retire. We still have choices to accept that new job, or look for another one, or keep the job we're in. Just like we have the choice to go with the changes at work, or look for a new job. Either way, it's a much more enjoyable existence to choose a positive attitude even in the mist of misery and keep perspective of our situation and the good things it allows us.

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