Change: Why You Should Embrace It

Change happens

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 – or some variation of that.

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 routes.

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, they are the experts.

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 it as the old Gmail for almost a month. I was familiar with it; comfortable. I knew where everything was and didn’t want to take the time to figure it out. I didn’t sit down and look at the new features. I was too freaked out that Gmail dare change.

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. Particularly with the economy and the job market fluctuating as it has recently, the changes 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. Get a life, 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, which dictates that, 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 when Sven could really use a raise? He feels he works so hard, and never gets recognized for it. His job includes a lot of manual labour, and the compensation system is set up in a way that really does not allow him commission. In reality, the new system will make his job easier, and faster. He will have much more 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 thing 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 eachother, nevermind all of this text messaging nonsense” end quote (MIL) – 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.




Change: Why You Should Embrace It — 46 Comments

  1. I think people get frustrated with user interface changes because they impact our ability to function normally. It takes time to learn a process and it’s annoying to have that continually changing on you!

    I am totally guilty of complaining about changes, but I also adapt incredibly well, so I have no idea why. Maybe it’s just complaining to complain.

    What really grinds my gears though, are changes that make no logical sense and do not improve the user experience at all.

    Anyway, it is an important life skill…being able to accept change. But I don’t think we should always blindly comply. Critical thinking skills are especially important for these types of scenarios.

    • I think we all do that, so don’t feel too bad! I know I’m guilty of complaining for the sake of it sometimes.

      With work changes, I don’t think anybody would change things just for the sake of it, since it’s so hard to get acceptance. I think there’s usually reasons behind change.

  2. Great points! One of the best (simple) books that I read on change was ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’

    Wonderful book and really drives the point home as to what happens if you’re not willing to change.

  3. nice post daisy.. and something that i talk about quite a bit.

    in my industry (IT), things are always changing. technologies and methodologies come and go so quickly.. if you try to crawl into a hole and be “the guy” for a certain program or type of support, it won’t be long before something comes along that is shinier and better.

    change is inevitable in all facets of life.. you can’t fight it.. just go with it.

    also, WSL, you reference a fantastic book. :)

    • Oh, yes. IT is definitely ever changing! I think that IT is actually some of the biggest change efforts in an organization, and the ones that fail the most often as well are IT changes.

  4. Wow, you are absolutely right. Dead on. In my job, every day I’m going to different buildings around the city fixing stuff, and so I thought that I liked change (because every day is a ‘change’ and is different!). But actually, since I’m in different buildings every day, that’s my norm. I wonder what I’d do if I had to go to the same building for an entire week! Also, when I was a kid my mom had this chunk of the Berlin Wall on this plaque and the saying on it said, “Nothing endures but change.”

    • Exactly! I’m so glad you get it. I used to say that I love change because things were ever changing for me, but those changes were the norm.

  5. Adapting to change is a challenge no matter who you are. Even those who embrace change sometimes find it difficult sometimes (depending on what it demands). However, the difference is that while some folks buckle down and accept the change, others gripe about its inconvenience on their lives.

    You laid it out very nicely here. I love your explanation on why we are so frightened by change, and why accepting change is so important. Very eye-opening post.

    • I don’t think anyone really, 100%, embraces change. There are a few factors at play if somebody does embrace a certain change, but they usually value or have implemented the change. We have to train our brains to not automatically see the things that are wrong in the changes that happen!

  6. I don’t do well with change and I think as you get older, you become less adaptable to it, But it happens whether you like it or not. Life would be boring if it didn’t! :grin:

  7. I’m actually a fan of change because I equate it with grow and new opportunities. It might be a bit hairy, but it usually leads to good things!

    • It does! Without change, there is no growth. Or, I guess what I mean is change has to happen for growth to happen, since growth in itself is a change!

  8. Guilty as charged because I hate change but I grimace when I hear old people say things like that. I find myself saying things I abhor old people saying to my younger siblings. They must think I’m crazy. Like stop talking about what you used to do, no one cares! So I will resolve to be more open to change because yes, change is GOOD.

  9. I certainly hate change! Anytime I’ve had a major life change (i.e. uprooting my life back to the city and leaving university life after my four years)I feel like I’ve taken it much harder than my peers. I get really down about no longer having things ‘the way they were’ because I liked the way they were. Cliche as it sounds, when one door closes another one opens. Change is great!

    • I think changes like that – changes that affect the fundamentals of your life – are harder to take than the background noise. If I initiated those changes, I feel great about them,but I can’t help but feel a little lost when I partake in those changes.

  10. I used to suck at handling change but now I’m finding that the changes in my life are for the better. Since it’s been good things, I’ve really warmed up to it a bit. It happens regardless, no use complaining.

  11. Change is scary for sure. I’m that way, too, especially with things I perceive to add stability to my life (I’ve been at my current gig for almost 8 years and worked for the same people before that for 8 years straight (at different places, but the same bosses).

    I definitely like temporary adventures, but permanent changes – especially big ones – are always a bit unnerving.

  12. In my industry (healthcare), we recently went to EMR–electronic medical records–and all of the older techs flipped! They couldn’t handle learning things differently. “What’s wrong with the way we’ve always done things around here?” Being younger definitely helped me through that time as I grew up with more technology and change is inevitable in a technological world. I actually try to think about that consciously whenever I feel myself turning into an old lady about change. I got that way about facebook’s timeline and even when everyone moved from myspace to facebook years ago. If you resist change, the world won’t stop for you…they will leave you behind in the dust!

  13. In my last “beeline to the coffee pot in the morning”, I totally missed the bottom step and twisted my ankle some kinda awful! I need to “change” and start turning on the lights in the morning!
    But, I do think that change is good in that it could mean that you’re continuing to grow. By being open to change, you’re opening yourself to growth and chance to learn/experience new things.

  14. This was a perfect article for me to read today. I’ve been thinking about whether to take a different job. You’re spot on when you say “the person is insecure about his/her ability to adapt to change” That’s how I’m feeling right now. If I just went with it and let my insecurities go, I would probably end up loving a new job.

  15. Great post. I always try to embrace change–especially in my job. I’ve seen soooo many people over the years be resistant to change and it never seems like it turns out well (at least in the workplace).

    Again—great, great post!

  16. Change is something I am going through right now and have absolutely no choice but to fully embrace it.

    My husband just moved to Santiago Chile, while me and the kids are still in Antigua, Guatemala getting ready for the HUGE move in the next year.

    Without my controlling my ‘somewhat booming’ business went down to almost nothing all within the same month my husband moved to a city where our lives are going to be 5 times more expensive.

    I went through crying fits and almost hysteria, but what can I do, change is in the wind.

  17. Okay – I agree with you on a lot of levels (almost all) but I do think there is such a thing as too much change.

    I know, I sound like such an old lady, but here it is:

    Facebook changes too much for me. I can’t handle it.

    I didn’t get angry/upset about Gmail (or Google Analytics, or the Privacy Policy) or Twitter. (Sometimes the Gmail is pretty annoying – I can’t see my folders as well anymore, because they’re obstructed by Google Chat, and I’m not even that PO-ed.) I’m generally a pretty open person. Even if I don’t understand why someone wants to do something different, I listen and ask questions and try to hear them out. At work, I’m like the “Change Agent”. I walk in, and people go: “Oooh, there’s that young girl. Making so many changes.” But – even for me – Facebook changes too much.

    As for habits, I do think there are reasons people have them. There was an article in the NYTimes recently on Decision Fatigue. Sometimes, having habits is smart:

  18. I am naturally really bad at dealing with change, which is why I work in a fast-paced environment. This forces me to confront my fears head-on and I definitely deal better with change in my personal life now because of the various coping/managing tactics I have come up with at work to lessen the burden of constant change.

    I may be the only one, but I actually am really fond of the “new Gmail” and it didn’t take me very long.

    The real problem with technological change: increased tech support calls from my parents.

  19. I’m not keen on change myself. I’m the type of person who feels that moving home after 15 years in the same property is a move too often. We don’t like uncertainty, changes in routine, things we don’t know – just human nature.

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