The idea of learning something new, meeting new people, and shaking up my daily routine a bit has always made the future a little brighter for me. But I have to admit—like many people, I’m not friendly with all forms of change.
If something were to happen to someone in my family, for example, it would force a fundamental change in my life that I definitely wouldn’t welcome. If I were to suffer a health issue, or be forced to live somewhere miles from the countryside, these would be changes I definitely wouldn’t be happy about.
Each of us has a certain tolerance (or intolerance) of change, which makes sense. We all like to feel some sense of security, and change can make us feel afloat without an anchor. If we’re too resistant to change, however, we can remain stuck at certain points in our lives, resisting the callings of the inner voice because we feel more comfortable where we are—no matter how miserable—than with the prospect of having to adapt to something new.
If your inner voice is urging you to make some changes, but you’re afraid, unsure, or just feeling a strong resistance, consider the following.
Look into the future.
As we live our daily lives, we often fail to look far enough down the road. We can handle how things are for one more week, month, or year, we think. But that approach tends to keep things very much the same for a lot longer than we may imagine, and then it’s five years down the road and we’re still experiencing the same miseries. Save yourself the waste. Take a minute to sit down and really imagine your life five years from now. What will it be like if everything remains the same? Do you like that picture? If not, move forward with your change!
Take it a little at a time.
Sometimes the idea of change can seem overwhelming because we fail to break it down into steps. If you want to move to a new state, for example, you may keep putting it off because it all seems like too much to do. Instead, take out a piece of paper and break it down into steps. Step one might be deciding what town you want to move to. Step two could be visiting the town and figuring out in what part of it you’d like to live. Step three may be scouting out housing and prices. Step four could be talking to a realtor. Little chunks are always easier to handle than big tasks, and pretty soon you’ll find yourself excited and no longer afraid of the enormity of the change.
Ask yourself what you’re afraid of.
Sometimes when faced with the idea of change, we feel a general sense of uneasiness and we’re not sure why, so we put off change because we fail to take the time to truly examine our feelings. Take a weekend to get away, or even just an afternoon to take a walk, and ask yourself: What’s really scaring you? Are you afraid you won’t live up to your new expectations of yourself? Are you mistrusting your inner voice? Are finances worrying you? Whatever it is, once you can name it, it loses some of it’s power, as then you can take steps to address your fear and move forward.
Are you expecting too much of yourself?
Often we fear change because we think we won’t be able to handle it. If you’re facing a divorce, for example, you may doubt your ability to make it through the process and start your life over again. Or you may be expecting yourself to sail through the whole thing without a scratch—hardly realistic. Give yourself a break, realize that you may need support, and then get the help you need so you can move on.
Are you worried about what others will think?
Change can be scary if we’re concerned about other’s opinions. If your inner voice tells you to leave medical school to pursue a career as a comedian, you may resist because you just can’t face telling your parents. If you long to leave a lucrative corporate career for something more fulfilling and less financially rewarding, you may resist because you don’t want to tell your spouse. Imagine what life will be like if you continue as you are. Imagine how you may come to resent the people that you’re afraid of disappointing—which isn’t fair to them. Then make the choice to follow your inner voice.
Surprisingly enough, change is usually exciting once we get over the initial hurdle of facing our fears. Do it often enough, and you may come to enjoy change more than you ever thought you could.