If you ask someone who does a lot of exercise, especially someone who does a lot of weight/resistance training, he will tell you that change is good. A new routine stretches and tears the muscles more than a consistent routine, creating stronger muscles and better overall fitness.
If you ask a business owner or an entrepreneur, she will tell you that change is good, as those who adapt to the ever-changing market win, and those who refuse to change eventually lose.
However, most people often travel their entire life avoiding and/or resisting change, and it is all because of fear, which is the number one reason people never change.
Fear is the motivating factor behind most of the choices people make in life. It’s the reason I didn’t pursue playing professional golf when I graduated from college. It’s the reason my mom didn’t go a little higher up the corporate ladder in over 45 years of work. And it could be the reason change is not possible for you, at least, not until now.
This fear that I speak of has several forms, but there are three in particular that seem to be leading the way in causing people to resist change: fear of failure, fear of success and fear of the unknown.
Failure has really been given a bad name these days. From childhood experiences taking tests in school and the pressure to perform on sports teams, to business ideas and dream jobs as adults, the world has made failure out to be public enemy #1. It is to be avoided at all cost.
But failure is nothing more than an experience that one must have in order to achieve success. It is a stepping stone, not a stumbling block. It is a badge of honor, not a mark of shame. When people fear failure, they stop trying new things, and when they stop trying new things, change ceases.
The idea of success is also discomforting for many, but for different reasons. Instead of experiencing shame, as many do when they “fail”, people often experience the side effects of success: recognition, opportunity and financial blessings. Although these things are very positives consequences, for some they are so uncomfortable they become negatives. People think, “I don’t want everybody looking at me” or subconsciously they believe “I don’t know how to handle money”. Whatever the reason, when people have a fear of success, they often experience self-sabotage or they simply stop trying to succeed altogether, and change ceases as well.
Finally, a fear of the unknown often causes people to maintain the status quo at all cost. They may not even like the status quo, but knowing what will happen, even if it’s not all that great, is better than not knowing. In their minds, it doesn’t seem possible that anything else could be better than what they currently have. It’s just difficult for someone who loves the idea of control to be “out of control”, and many people will forego change for this reason alone. But when a fear of the unknown trumps the idea of trying something new, change ceases once again.
If any of these fears resonate with you, I encourage you to not let yours fears paralyze you from trying new things. Courage, genuine courage, is taking action in the face of fear, and your life will be more fulfilling, more satisfying and more rewarding if you allow yourself to experience change.
Start today. Seriously, don’t put this off until tomorrow. Try something new at lunch today, take a new route home this afternoon, start a new health program tonight, and whatever you do, don’t let fear keep you from trying something new.