Of the many fears that consume us as a species, the fear of change may be atop the list. It begins when we’re youngsters: imagine the tearful goodbye as a parent leaves their child on the first day of day care or preschool. Normally there is an adjustment period there for both parent and child, and it’s not often a pretty one.
The same is true for all changes in life: the transition from middle school to high school, moving away from home for the first time, working a full-time job fresh out of college. We’re creatures of comfort living in a world where we are forced to systemically evolve for our first two decades of life.
During that time, however, we just do it. We don’t really complain (not to anyone who could change the outcome anyway). We follow protocol, and in the end, we hopefully leave that period of time evolved in a significant way; mostly in the areas of education and social behavior.
When we get past that time in our lives, change looks a lot different.
It’s infrequent, and often unwelcome; we have to instigate it in our lives. But the big question you may be asking yourself is, why does it matter? Why would I want change in my life?
The simple answer is this: if you’re unhappy in your relationships, or you’re dissatisfied at work, or you feel a pull in a different direction than the one you’re currently headed down – then you need change. And YOU have to make that change happen by taking action.
You have to decide to quit that job and then actively seek a new one. You have to research that field you’ve been thinking of entering and figure out how to turn it into your new career. You have to leave that unhealthy relationship once and for all. It’s all up to you – it rests on your shoulders.
When you reach that point, and you’re ready for the change you crave, there are some important questions you should ask yourself. The process of change is never easy, and it often comes at a price in the early days.
Here are three questions to ask yourself before making a big change:
1. Are you willing to sacrifice things in life right now?
You may have to take a pay cut. You may have to forgo your daily Starbucks fix. You may have to stay up late getting things done because the rest of your hours are consumed with other responsibilities. Are you ready for the challenge?
2. Can you persevere?
These things take time. When we’re young, there is an urgency to accomplish – get as much under our belt as possible. But the reality is that change and the outcome of change takes time. Can you learn to love the time in between your beginning and your end goal?
3. Are you willing to go back to the drawing board?
If things don’t seem to be working out, are you willing to re-evaluate your path? One of the most important things we can learn as we work to develop our leadership skills is to identify when something is not working and we need to reassess. This process is free of ego, and requires us to step outside of ourselves and look in with an impartial set of eyes.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be ready for a change. And as Tom Asacker once said, “What most people fail to realize, typically until it’s very late in the game, is that change happens to us whether we like it or not.”
So why not have some say in the change that happens to you? For most of us, it will be the first time in our lives.