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How and Why to Embrace Change


Humans tend to not like change. Maybe that's putting it too lightly; we hate change. We fight it.

Why we don't like change

In some ways this makes perfect sense. Something to do with the way our brains have evolved causes us to favor things that have stood the test of time. The status quo is proven to not kill you, so our lizard brains embrace it. That first guy who tried holly berries, he's dead. So our brains urge us to stick to figs and rabbits (or whatever cavemen considered safe to eat).

Sometimes change forces us to admit to that we were wrong; something that no one likes to do. Being wrong sucks, but we've all made mistakes and the sooner you acknowledge your error and redirect yourself the better. As George Bernard Shaw said, "Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."

Why we should like change

If humans never changed we'd still be hunter-gatherers living in caves and eating raw meat. We wouldn't have discovered amazing breakthroughs like modern medicine or electricity. The same principle applies to individuals. In short, without change there is no progress.

What to do about it

Overcoming the fear of change isn't easy; Especially if you have a conservative, risk-averse personality like me. I've found some success by recognizing the reasons my brain is afraid of change. Then I can start to understand that my evolutionary aversion to change doesn't really apply in most of my relatively privileged modern life.

It's not as risky as you think

A few years ago, my wife and I uprooted our lives in the Midwest and moved across the country. It was scary and a little risky. What if we couldn't find jobs? What if we hate it there?

Well, in that case, I guess we could move back. Or we could live with family. Or we could lower our standards in the job-hunt. The point is, we wouldn't starve or be homeless. Our lives wouldn't truly be at risk. We could always change direction or try a new approach. And you can too.

Most changes aren't as significant as you think

It's never to late to make a positive change. You don't need to be afraid to try a new career, or start your own business. Trying something doesn't make it a lifelong commitment. Odds are that your next job won't be your last. And if your new business doesn't take off, you can take your new skill set and return to the workforce. Even if your business is a success, you may find that the life of an entrepreneur simply doesn't agree with you.

Change is a part of life

Whether we hate it or love it, change is a part of life; there's no way around it. If you resist change you are fighting a losing battle and actively preventing your own improvement. Instead, we should embrace change and use it to our advantage. Proactively seek ways to improve your life. Constantly scrutinize and refine your habits and processes. Every day, ask yourself if there are any adjustments you can make to move yourself closer to your goals.

Change is like anything else in life. The more you practice, the better you'll get at it. Over time, change will bring less pain and more progress. I'm not saying it will be ever be easy, but you can hone yourself into a more resilient and adaptable human being.

You can't have the life you want without change

Yes, change introduces an element of risk into your life. But tell me which sounds riskier: maintaining the status quo, guaranteed to never make progress toward the life you want, or taking calculated risks with the possibility of achieving your dreams? Sure, you could fail, but you can always just pick yourself up and try again. And hey, you might just succeed.

MindsetZach Magnuson