Monday, April 25, 2016

The Cost of Avoiding Change

There is no shortage of articles that will extol the benefits of change such as; increased personal
growth, progress and opportunities. Regardless of the benefits that could be listed though, there are those that opt not to adopt change. Generally, the avoidance of change occurs because the perceived benefits do not outweigh the perceived costs.

However, when taking a look at the cost/benefit ratio, it is important that all true costs be identified. Typically, the assumption is that the cost of 'not' changing is the loss of the perceived potential benefits of the change.  However, the impact of not embracing change is far greater and more insidious.

Although we may be choosing not to embrace changes, preferring to maintain the status quo, it turns out that we may not be factoring in the true costs to us of avoiding the change. Research has shown that the following factors also impact us whenever we avoid change...

  • Reduced adaptability.  The more often we avoid change, the less adaptable and flexible we become, which makes us ill-prepared to face new situations in the future.  Think of your ability to deal with and manage change as a muscle.  The more you use it, the stronger it gets. However, the reverse is also true.  The less you use it the weaker the muscle gets which means that you are not likely to have the strength needed to see a future situation through when it is not possible to avoid it.  Continuously avoiding change leaves you with few coping strategies for facing future events.
  • Stagnation.  We may be comfortable with our current situation, but that doesn't mean we don't want more or better for ourselves.  However, our failure to embrace change will result in reduced skills, talents and abilities. We can't possibly be capable of fulfilling 'more' in the future if we are unwilling to push ourselves to take on more today.  Our skills become obsolete, significantly limiting future opportunities, until we become redundant and unnecessary. Instead, we need to continuously be upgrading our skills and knowledge, to remain current and viable. 
  • Fewer Future Opportunities.  The less we say 'yes' to opportunities today, the less likely we are to say yes to them tomorrow.  Additionally, the less we say yes today, the less others call upon us with opportunities in the future because we have trained them to look elsewhere. If you are not open to exploring new opportunities and challenges today, then don't be surprised that future opportunities pass you by.
  • Increased Stress.  Although people will often avoid change because they feel that it is too stressful on them to embrace it, long-term studies find the reverse to be true.  Failing to embrace change leaves you with limited opportunities, reduced income, and more repetitive work which will lead to increased stressors over the longer term. 
  • Reduced Self Esteem.  One of the greatest factors in building and renewing our self-esteem is our sense of achievement.  As we push ourselves to take on and try new things we build our confidence and belief in ourselves. By avoiding taking on new tasks we fail to stretch ourselves and provide new examples of our capabilities and talents. Our seeming 'lack of success' then leads us to view ourselves as less successful and less capable which reduces our confidence, completing this downward spiral in our self-belief.  Our self-esteem is built through our successes, however small, which requires us to challenge ourselves with something new periodically.
"I used to say, 'I sure hope things will change.' Then I learned that the only way things are going to change for me is when I change."    Jim Rohn

Change is never easy and not all change is desirable.  There may very well be changes that it is in your best interest to say no to.  However, there are many changes that would prove beneficial to you in the longer term, that would help you grow, build your confidence and open up new opportunities for you.  Understanding the true cost of saying 'no' to these moments will perhaps help you to overcome your hesitation and make the 'yeses' easier to say!

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