Sometimes the very uttering of that word brings fear. Comfort is a good thing, and whether or not everything in life is ideal, usually it is comfortable. We like what we are used to and know. I admit that I like my routine, and although I often seek change, even invite it, I go kicking and screaming.
I find learning about, or pondering the idea of change interesting. Everyone desires to change or bring about change in some way, either large or small. It can be simple, how to get a child to accomplish a simple task by framing it in a desirable, attainable way. Many bribe to do this; I am not a fan of that strategy. Change is a big subject in our country – remember hope and change? Education reform is about CHANGE. We need to change the way teachers teach. We need to change the way we train teachers to teach. We need to change WHAT we teach and HOW we teach it.
A few days ago I read a blog post by my colleague, Dr. Ellen Cavanaugh, that is a book review about a book called — Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Her post is here. I have spent countless hours thinking about change: what to change, how to change, or whether to change.
I think what we want to change is often not clear, thus making it hard to have an identifiable goal, and as a result, have the motivation to do it. If you know what you want to change, why, and what the motivation is, I think you know where to seek support. In other words, don’t tell a friend who is always cynical and doubtful about your new dream business. All you will get is negativity. Seek the support you need. I believe that positive support ties into the motivation and the vision. There is only so much climbing uphill you can do. At the same time, it can be perspective, how you look at what is accomplished and what yet needs to be. That is the glass half full or half empty thing. One of the biggest stimuli to change is being unhappy with previous results or experiences. A lot of getting real analysis has to happen to figure out what you want to change or need to change to get the desired results. I believe it was Einstein who said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Behavior is hard to change and I think the goals must be small and specific. Not to be demeaning, but think about training a dog. You have to do the same thing with the same result, never bending, over and over again. What makes human change complex is the fact that we are not dogs and can rationalize, often an impediment to change. Why do you wear that old T-shirt? It s soft, worn and comfortable, with all of its faded beauty and holes! It will take years for a new one to feel like this one. Habits hold hard and only action in a different direction can change those outcomes.
I have had to make a lot of changes, some because I wanted to, some because I had to for survival and long-term benefit. Certainly making a bad choice or a having a bad experience can lead one to want to change. Again, how many times do you want to do the same thing even though it is likely you will get the same results? Idealism always interferes with our need to think we should change. If only I do_______, the results will be different, or will they? You can only control yourself and your own change. Hoping something you do will make someone behave differently is nice, but not too realistic.
Change must begin with a vision of what you will see when the change is complete. Then, after envisioning change and taking action, somewhere in the middle, you have to figure out what to do to affect and complete the change. In this process, there is a lot of room for giving up, misdirection and plain old NO CHANGE. Motivation, clear goals, and a possible route to the goals comprise change. I guess it’s all good, but it is never easy or simple. Deciding on change or envisioning that change is just the tip of the iceberg.