Change is one of those sticky things that many people say they are fine with, but very few are.
I can say that I love change, and I do love some changes, but it really depends on what is changing and how it will impact my daily life.
Change is difficult because it challenges everything that you are used to, and the processes you’ve built. To adapt to change, you have to break habits and form new ones.
Sometimes, that can be negative and often it can be positive.
It can suck sometimes; it can be super beneficial; or, it can be trivial. But it happens.
We, as human beings, have a natural tendency to avoid and reject change. We like routine. We like normal; our whole lives are built upon routine. Get up, shower, get dressed, go to work, drive home, make dinner, read, go to bed.
We can break that down even further if we look at the consistency that goes into those activities: we get up, usually at the same time. We sleep on the same side of the bed. We do the same things upon getting out of bed – for me, I beeline to the coffee machine. When we drive to work, we take the same route.
Some of us like to tell ourselves that we like change. We like to move and we like to travel. We like to see new places and try new foods. That’s not really change, because you’re controlling it.
Few of us will accept change if it’s something we can’t control. A common example is when Twitter changes. Even just minute details throw some for a loop. There is an enormous amount of complaining that Twitter went and changed their look again, that they need to stop changing everything and rarely will the users admit that the change was probably for the better; after all, the developers behind social media sites of that size are usually experts in their fields.
I’m writing about change because I’m no different, not because I am different. When Gmail changed it’s look and some of it’s functionality, I kept the old Gmail for almost a month. I was familiar with it. I knew where everything was and didn’t want to take the time to figure a new system out. I didn’t sit down and look at the new features.
After listening to a change management seminar at school, I realized how ridiculous I was being. Accepting change is an exercise in adaptability; it’s extremely important to be adaptable, particularly in the world’s ever changing environment. With the economy and the job market fluctuating as it has recently, change have touched all of our lives in different ways, whether they are small or big.
Next time Twitter changes, before you Tweet some angry “If Twitter doesn’t stop moving everything around I’m leaving!” message, stop and think to yourself: a) It’s just Twitter. Does it matter that much?, and b) Why do I hate this so much? Can I explain it to myself? Or am I just rejecting it because I was used to the old one?
Why people are so scared of change
During a presentation I had to do about resistance to change, a discussion broke out about why people hate change. What was the reasoning behind it?
There are several reasons that came out of that discussion and that were outlined in the literature I’ve read about it. These include:
- The person does not value the change
Example: Your workplace implements a new time tracking system. Under the new system, in order to be able to enter the building, you have to swipe a card. That card tracks your comings and goings. You usually come in late and leave early, and take 3 hour long breaks under your boss’s radar. You hate this change because you will no longer be able to do that. You don’t value it.
- The person is insecure about his/her ability to adapt to the change
Example: Betty is 60 and can use the technology in her department really well. But her workplace is changing the technology to a newer system, one that she isn’t sure she’ll be able to learn as quickly as the 20 year old intern. Betty is scared that she might not be able to pick it up, and either look stupid or lose her job to somebody with more experience in technology.
- The person is ignorant about the change
Example: A new system is being put in at Sven’s work and he sees it as a huge waste of time and money. Why put in a new system and spend money on that when Sven could really use a raise? He feels he works so hard, and never gets recognized for it. There is a commission portion of his compensation, but his current job doesn’t give him enough time to make commission. In reality, the new system will make his job easier and he will be able to do his work faster. He will have extra time to make commission following the new system being put in, but since he doesn’t understand the point behind it, he’s never been interested in learning more about it.
These are all work examples, but they can translate over to life as well. There are dozens of other reasons people might resist change, but these are reasons that came up several times in the discussion.
Three reasons why accepting change is so important:
1. If you accept change, it’s less likely to derail you when it happens. Change is inevitable; if we had strong, resistant reactions every time things changed, we’ll be at a huge disadvantage
2. It’s a good exercise in skill building. Because it’s our natural tendency to reject change, accepting it instead of complaining about it or rejecting it will be helpful in building adaptability, resiliency, and flexibility; all extremely important skills for everyone
3. In most, cases, you can’t change the new system or process back. Complaining about every change that ever happens doesn’t help your situation, but only aggravates it. Accepting the inevitable and unchangeable will allow you a happier life.
The bottom line
You know how many people in younger generations complain about older people’s views of “kids these days” and how they act and how things were back in their day?
It’s annoying. We all know it is. That old lady that sticks her nose up in the air and sniff “Well, we didn’t do it like that back in my day. We actually had conversations with each other, nevermind all of this text messaging nonsense” - they’re handling the evolution of the world poorly.
But we’re not much better when we, too, can’t handle change, and we can’t complain about those people if we freak out every time the government changes the name of our taxes or your company automates something.
Change is going to happen whether we like it or not, so we might as well accept it to make things easier on ourselves.