Why You Need to Embrace Change
The ability to adapt and respond to change is getting more and more important. As technology and other aspects of society move at an ever accelerating rate, you can easily get left behind if you resist change. In this article, we’ll be exploring some of the reasons that it’s so important to be open to change as well as some tips on how to embrace change more freely.
Why Do Most People Fear Change?
For the most part, people are creatures of habit. They are comfortable with doing things in a way that’s familiar. It’s easy to get accustomed to the status quo, even if it’s not the most efficient or even pleasant way to do things. There are many reasons that people often resist change.
- When we’ve always done something a certain way, it can be threatening to try something new.
- Parents, teachers, employers and friends may have been telling us for years that certain things will never change.
- It takes time, research and work to adapt to changes. Our natural laziness often kicks in and we revert back to what’s familiar.
- Some changes are beneficial while others can be harmful. It’s not always easy to identify which is which.
Resistance to change can manifest in any number of ways. It can be something as simple as refusing to use a new technology. People have resisted almost every technological advance, from the automobile to the personal computer. This doesn’t mean you should simply buy every new gadget that comes on the market. It’s important to take a close look at new innovations and see whether or not you can truly benefit from them.
If you’re in business, resistance to change can be fatal. For example, people who owned video stores and didn’t see the warning signs that their industry was becoming obsolete suffered serious consequences. The point is not to accept change for its own sake, but to analyze each situation carefully and decide when change can work in your favor.
Develop a “Just Do It” Attitude
If you wait until you feel completely comfortable embracing change, you will probably not make many changes, at least not voluntarily. It’s simply human nature to have a certain amount of anxiety about doing things differently.
It’s similar to jumping into a pool or lake that you know is going to feel cold to your body at first. It’s much easier if you just jump in. If you dip your toe in the water and try to acclimate every part of your body to the cold, you may talk yourself out of it. If you just jump in, however, you’ll feel cold for a couple of seconds and then quickly adjust.
The same is true for many types of change. If you can logically see that making certain changes will be advantageous, the best approach is to just do it, even if it you’re not completely comfortable with it.
Adjusting to Change is Easier When You Have Help
In some cases, you may need some help adjusting to change. Here are a few examples.
- You can see that economic trends are forecasting that people are buying fewer and fewer of the types of products your company makes. You have to find a new direction for your business.
- You move to a new country where you don’t speak the language, either for business or personal reasons. Or you may be doing business with people in other countries and need to learn a new language to communicate with them.
- You need to learn a complicated technology or software program for your business, one that you have no experience with.
- You want to change careers and need training or a degree.
These are situations where it’s usually easier to enlist help. This might mean finding a personal mentor or coach whom you trust or seeking some type of formal education or training. Learning new skills is often easier when you have someone to help you. If you’re not sure how to go about finding the right information, you can take it step-by-step. You can ask people you know for recommendations. You can do online research. You can visit a local college or technical school that offers the type of training you need and ask questions.
When it comes to finding a coach or mentor, you may be able to leverage such a person without having to pay. Think of what you might be able to do for this person. Perhaps you could arrange some type of barter or partnership.
Why You Should Build a Diverse Network
The wider your own personal network, the easier it is to find what or who you need at any given time. That’s why you should always be looking to build your network, even when you don’t see an immediate reason to do so. This is always helpful if you have a business or are seeking career growth. Even at other times, however, it puts you in a better position to adjust to all types of change. Here are a few ways to do this:
- Build your list of contacts on social media sites. LinkedIn is particularly useful if you do B2B marketing of any kind. Join groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Follow influencers and people in your industry on Twitter.
- Join forums. Forums are still a good way to find people who share your interests. It’s also a great way to network. Don’t use forums to blatantly promote yourself, though. You’ll get better results by being sociable and contributing to threads. Your forum profile and signature can let people know what you do.
- Attend business conference, trade shows and local networking events. Even in the digital age, it’s important to meet people in person.
Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
This gets back to the point that humans tend to resist change. There are certain ways that you can make yourself more open to changes. If you deliberately take steps to do things differently in your everyday life, you’ll find it easier to accept larger scale changes that you can’t or shouldn’t avoid. Some of these suggestions may seem small or trivial, but they help to hard wire your brain into feeling more comfortable about change. Remember, even small changes will often feel uncomfortable at first.
- Take alternative routes to your destinations. For example, if you normally take the freeway, try taking side roads when you have the time.
- Read, watch or listen to different types of entertainment. Watch TV shows or movies that you wouldn’t normally watch. If you normally watch action movies, try romantic comedies or vice versa.
- Experiment with types of food that you don’t normally eat. If you’ve never tried Thai, Ethiopian, Korean or Greek food, for example, try it. Learn to cook new types of dishes as well as trying different types of restaurants.
- Learn a new game or sport simply for fun. This can be anything from chess to a computer game to a type of dance. If it’s completely different from anything you’ve done before, so much the better.
Learn to Leverage Technology For Greater Success
Many changes appear in the form of technological innovations. Today, the rate of change can be amazingly fast. For example, in the matter of little more than a decade, movies were mainly watched, respectively, on VHS, DVD and streaming services. Social media sites rise and fall. Google changes its search engine algorithms constantly. Mobile technology is quickly expanding.
While these are all well known changes, there are probably many smaller, less obvious ones in your own industry. It’s important to stay current and to be open to taking advantage of these innovations. For example, if you have a restaurant or other retail business, you should be optimized for local search engines so that people on mobile phones and other devices can easily find you.
Program Yourself to Love Change
Earlier we spoke about how it can be helpful to learn to be comfortable with a certain degree of discomfort. You can, however, take this a step further and learn to truly embrace change. You may need to acquire a new mindset. This involves a commitment to living in the present, which is more difficult than it may appear. We are all, to a greater or lesser degree, products of our past. The habits we’ve accumulated over the years can be hard to break.
- Remind yourself that change is often positive and can help you both personally and professionally. Be aware of any tendency you have to hope that things will just return to normal. In reality, change is normal!
- Read current books on change, especially in areas that pertain to your field or lifestyle. Watch videos online, such as TED Talks that help you stay up to date.
- Stay active physically. Exercise and walking in nature are good to help you focus on your environment and stay in the present.
- Practice meditation, yoga or other disciplines that teach the importance of living in the now.
Real Leaders Charge Toward Change
If you look at the greatest leaders in the world, either in the past or present, you’ll find that they openly embraced change. In many cases they are the catalyst for change. This applies equally to famous inventors in the past such as Thomas Edison and business leaders of modern times, such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Richard Branson. These are not people who resisted change but who led it. You should take inspiration from the leaders you admire most, whether in the fields of politics, sports, business or any other area.
Change is More Essential Now Than Ever Before
It’s a familiar truism that “change is the only constant.” However, it’s also true that the rate of change has been consistently increasing in recent years. Before the industrial revolution, it was still possible for most people to live in their own insular realities and not worry about what was happening in the wider world. As automation became prevalent and breakthroughs such as the automobile, airplane and television became popular, change became harder to resist. In the digital age, however, change is occurring at an exponential rate. You can no longer afford to hide from change. On the contrary, you should position yourself so that you welcome it and help guide it.
How We Can Benefit From Change
While change itself is going to occur whether you accept it or not, you can actually take steps so that you benefit from it. This can give you a competitive advantage.
- Shift your resources so that change benefits rather than harms you. This may mean updating your technology. It might mean changing the products or services you offer your customers.
- Stay well informed. Information is sometimes referred to as the new currency. When you can see change coming before others, you can position yourself to profit from it. Staying informed means reading the latest books, blog posts and social media posts of leaders and influencers in your industry. Make sure you notice who is succeeding today, not just in your industry but in others as well. See how these leaders are adapting to change.
- Communicate with clients, customers and prospects. For anyone in business, it’s more important than every to stay connected with customers. As change occurs all around us, people’s needs and desires shift very quickly. If you are aware of these shifts, you can profit from them.
While the future is hard to predict, one thing of which we can be certain is that change will continue to occur at an ever-faster rate. There are two ways to react to this –attempt to resist change or learn to embrace and adapt to it. The latter is a much better recipe for success and peace of mind.