You hear it all of the time. If only he or she would change. If only my boss would change. If only the situation at work will change. This new year I am going to change……
The business literature for a while was focused on organizational change and how in most cases it failed. Organizations and people find it difficult to change because both are made up so much of routine and habit.
We want the best. We want something different. We dream often of the good things that might happen if only there was change.
I consider change to be a false promise because significant change almost never materializes. Not in organizations. Not in others. Nor in ourselves. Especially when we are older.
Stop asking others to change. Stop being frustrated why you can’t change. Focusing on change itself is like focusing on driving without ever thinking about why you got in the car?
What we should be focused on, especially as adults, is choice. When we are in situations that require change, we should re-frame the discussion around choice. What are my different choices? What are the possible outcomes from different choices?
Decide what choice you will make first. The choice you make will dictate what you then need to change. If you are confused, stop and try to think what choice you made in the past that “got you” to where you are today.
I listen to stories of other people’s experiences and they share the helplessness of their situation without ever becoming aware of the choices that led them to their “today”.
Choice automatically both includes and excludes things in our life. Our attention is more focused only on what is included. Do our choices “match up” to the responsibilities we are given (both professionally as well as with family)? Does what we exclude cause too much collateral damage around us keeping us from achieving what we desire?
Responsibilities definitely constrain our choices. Life always places responsibility ahead of our selfish interests. Sadly I am not sure that we always understand this.
Different choices sometimes are not apparent when other people frustrate us. Choosing not to let their actions or words bother us is definitely a different choice. (Not all choices have to be large, dramatic, or disruptive.)
Choice is not an easy exercise. There may be short term sacrifice for longer term gain. We may find ourselves in denial unable to recognize the need to make a choice more consistent with our interests and who we really are. Making a choice may help us reveal what we don’t understand and what skills we are missing.
Choosing differently sometimes is difficult because we feel that there are no other choices. Other times choosing becomes more “either/or” rather than “pick from a pile” because we know so little. In both cases we need to learn more about this or that before we can choose a different way. And this is ok before deciding.
Over a lifetime, our choices define who we are. They reveal what is in our heart and what passions truly empower us as individuals. The closer our choices match our heart’s essence, the more impact we have in sharing a meaningful life with those around us.
Life is difficult enough without us making choices that conflict with who we really are or who we really would like to become or like to do.
Trial and error is what makes up a lot of our lives. Learning from each trial and each error and making adjustments and/or different choices next time is what makes life so much more fulfilling each and every year.
There is an element of “uncertainty” in making a different choice than we have made in the past. This uncertainty sometimes stops us. While this is true, I’ve learned over the years that in most cases, it is never fatal.
Never let uncertainty stop you. You will never know how much you missed until you have the courage, to sometimes, choose differently.
It’s both easy and hard to do. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.