How to Get Comfortable with Change
“The thought of making a life change can be so intimidating that even though you want to be the master of your own destiny you’ll end up doing nothing or settling for less than you deserve simply because you’re so afraid of that change.” This according to Catherine Pratt of Life with Confidence.
To understand how change is actually an opportunity to improve, 99FM’s MYD Smart spoke to Namibian Industrial Psychologist, Coen Welsh, who prepared a short guide on how we can get comfortable with change.
Why change is so hard by Coen Welsh
I have recently undergone a huge change in my life. Until about three months ago I have never not lived in a capital city in my life. But three months ago, my family and I packed out bags and moved to the Namibian coast.
This change made me wonder, Why don’t people like change? We know we have to change and we know things change constantly. At one stage in one’s life nearly everyone has quoted the saying: “Nothing in life is constant, except change.”
Why then do people not like change? What is it about change that makes us uncomfortable? Another popular saying is: “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” and in this I think lies part of the answer. Most people prefer the know to the unknown. We have an unconscious bias toward the tried and tested.
People often talk about the good old days, but when you start to think about it. The good old days were not that good. There were more incurable diseases, less medicines and people were not connected. Getting a flat tyre on a deserted road was a disaster. Now, however you just get your phone and call for help.
Getting back to my situation, every time I encountered a new difficulty in my new surroundings I catch myself longing for “home” even though home has changed. Then I have to remind myself of the reasons I moved. This is second bias we have. Over time, we tend to forget the bad and only remember the good. You tend to forget the stinky taxi ride to the beautiful holiday location. You tend to remember the fun times you had with an ex rather than their annoying habits that made you break up with them in the first place.
Lastly, this is probably the biggest reason, people resist change because they have a fear of losing control. Much like the saying, better the devil you know… we fool ourselves into believing that because we can predict the situation we have control over it. Think about it. If we knew the markets were going to crash in 2008 we could have prepared for it. Note, just because you know something is going to happen, does not mean that you can change the outcome, you can merely reduce the impact.
So How Do we Get Comfortable with Change?
1.) Get to know your biases.
Just because something has been around for a while does not necessarily make it better. New technologies are developed every day to make life better. Evaluate these and embrace it, if it does in fact make life better.
2.) Remind yourself
Get reminders of why you wanted to change. Make them visible reminders if you have to, but do something to help you not to forget the “bad old days”. Being aware of the fact that we tend to forget the negative and remember the positive will help to eliminate that risk.
3.) Don’t fool yourself
Obviously we have to prepare for potential negative outcomes, but fooling yourself into believing that you have control is a fallacy. Take an example of a horrible boss. If you start to learn to recognise certain characteristics of a manager or supervisor and you teach yourself mechanisms to cope with that. This may allow you to avoid certain behaviours that may trigger abuse and you feel that you are in control of things. You are fooling yourself. Many people may stay in such a situation for fear of the unknown, but once they quit that job they realise how bad its been and how much better it was to face the fear of change and to embrace the unknown.
With the end of the year fast approaching I urge you all to re-evaluate where you are and to make the necessary changes to make 2017 a better year.
About Coen Welsh
Coen is a qualified Industrial Psychologist with a master’s thesis focusing on the Antecedents and underlying Psychological Conditions predicting Employee Engagement. He has studied, lived and worked in London, Cairo, Pretoria and Namibia.
Coen is a founding trustee of Capacity Trust where he currently consults in the people and human resources space for a variety of organisations in Namibia ranging from private sector clients to government and SOE’s.