Change is hard. It’s so hard, in fact, that we often choose not to take actions that might be to our benefit, simply because it’s easier to remain in the status quo. We’re either wary of getting out of our comfort zone, or we’re simply not uncomfortable enough to take a different path.
The sad truth is that most of us let things slide that aren’t to our liking; no one’s immune to this behavior. I finally updated my website earlier this year, even though I realized for years that it was outdated. I hesitated doing anything about it—even after clients were surprised when they met me because I looked nothing like my old picture. Why did it take me so long to act on a feeling I’d had for years? A few different things were at play.
I don’t care much for change, and who really does? The thought of having to go through a complete website design—expending both time and money—didn’t appeal to me…and I didn’t feel my old, tired website was having a negative effect on my business. I talked myself into thinking that it really wasn’t so bad.
I was also struck by what I call intermittent reinforcement scheduling. Just when I’d get to the point that I was ready to start a redesign, someone would offer a positive comment about my website. All thoughts of updating it left my mind.
When I finally did finish the redesign—stepping into the 21st century—my sense of glee was overwhelming. I realized I’d been truly foolish to put off the project for so long, but I hadn’t been miserable enough to engage in the months-long website redesign process.
What factors affect our willingness to take action to rectify a situation that’s less than stellar? I can name four:
- Inertia—many people are more comfortable leaving things as they are
- Pain tolerance—everyone has a different “breaking point” and some have more patience than others
- Lifestyle—some people are sticklers, while others are more apt to “live and let live”
- Coping skills—some people are simply more effective at dealing with sub-par situations than others
We’ve all been there—keeping an employee on for too long, staying in a relationship longer than its “expiration date,” or failing to do anything to lose weight, quit smoking, or accomplish other important goals. Perhaps we’re playing the role of the professional victim—thinking “we can’t” rather than what’s really true, “we won’t.”
You might consider trying this exercise: every time you want to say, “I can’t,” say “I won’t” instead. I’ve had many people do this, and the results are impressive; most quickly realize how stuck they are—they can do anything they want, but they often don’t want to.
There are many things in life over which you have no control, but you always retain the ability to determine how you react to your evolving circumstances. When you’re faced with a “do something” situation, especially one that may result in some discomfort, you must empower yourself to become a doer by demonstrating desire, determination and dedication.
This is by no means an easy thing to do—otherwise everyone would be doing everything they should be doing—but it’s not impossible, either. Are you ready to leave your comfort zone? The benefits could be well worth the temporary discomfort. Did I mention that since my new website went live, I’m more excited about my business and being more active in marketing it?