A friend once said, “The only one who wants change is a wet baby.” From personal experience, I know that is not true. A pre-potty trained child would often rather run around with a full diaper than have it changed! I think it is safe to say that few of us really desire change, not matter what our age.
Sometimes change is thrust upon us, but very often we have control over whether we will change or “make a change” or not. So how do you know then it is time for change? Let me address first personal change and, in the next blog, organizational change. What are some signs that we need to make changes in our lives?
Perhaps the most common motivation for change is fear. Some would question that this is an effective motivator, but fear of loss or impending death can be very motivational even if negative in nature. When a person is told by his or her physician that some life style changes are in order to avoid incapacity or death, only the foolish person will ignore such advice. If one finds himself or herself in a situation that threatens bodily or emotional harm for self or others, change is mandatory. In fact, if we know that minors are in danger of physical or sexual abuse, we are compelled by law to take action.
Another reason for change is personal discomfort. If our circumstances are such that we are uncomfortable to the point of not being able to function properly, we are usually motivated to make change. This may come as the result of participation in a workplace setting, a personal relationship, or a group, but when we dread facing a particular person or situation and we cannot resolve our discomfort, we must consider some type of change as an option.
On a more positive level, we might seek change as part of a vision for a better future for ourselves or others. Parents often grieve over their children leaving home to go to college, enter the military, or take a job in another city and young adult children may feel some of that apprehension as well, but both face this change as part of the “leaving the nest” process that will hopefully led the child into a place of independence in society. From these momentary sacrifices and discomfort one expects to see some reward.
Another positive motivator of change is an awareness that one’s gifts and skills might be used more effectively in another situation. Even if one is relatively comfortable in the present place of service or employment, he or she may come to realize that there is a situation that needs what the individual has to offer. This assumes, of course, that a person is sufficiently self-aware to know what they do best.
The good news is that there are people who can help us through these changes. They may be friends, family, and colleagues who do so on an informal basis. We can also call on professionals like ministers, physicians, counselors, and coaches to assist as we walk through life changes.
Whatever the impetus for change, it is a necessary part of our lives.