It’s an interesting question to ask yourself, because how you respond to it with words may not even matter.
I have a few acquaintances that whenever I speak with, all they do is complain about what’s wrong in their life and how they want things to change. It could be complaining about a relationship that is not working, or a job that is not satisfying. I’ve noticed that some of these people have been singing the same song for years! Yet, if you look at their lives, not much has changed if at all. So what is going on here?
I have another friend that keeps making the same mistakes over and over again. You’d think with experience, you would learn from your errors and avoid falling into the same pitfalls, but that’s not the case. This person keeps going back on the same road, the very road that goes absolutely nowhere different, yet expects to reach a new destination.
The definition of insanity is “to keep doing the same thing over and over again, wishing for different results“. Can these people then be considered insane?
After further thought into this, I came to the realization that insanity is definitely not the case. You see, these are very bright people, very capable, yet something keeps them in that vicious circle.
They do not want to change
They can scream and complain all day about how life isn’t the way they want, but in reality, life is exactly how they want it. Our reality is shaped by how we want it to be. It’s not something that is truly obvious, and most of these people aren’t even aware that they are doing this. Let me give you some examples, to show you that we all do this to varying degrees:
Someone wants to wake up early so that they can accomplish all that they need to during the day. When morning comes, this person simply cannot get themselves to get up as early as needed. Or a salesperson that really wants to make more money, yet never does all that is necessary to ensure that they make more money, such as working longer hours, paying attention to details, and the likes. How about a student that wants to have an A yet cannot bring themselves to study on time and finds themselves cramming at the last minute.
All of the above examples show that these people, deep down, truly do not want what they believe that they want. The change that they claim to desire isn’t desired after all.
Everything lies in your comfort level. Your level of comfort will determine if action or effort can be triggered. In the case of the person that wants to wake up early, the salesman, and the student, the following diagram explains their current situation:
Comfort level > Rewards after change
In their mind, an equation takes place. They calculate that the result of changing is not large enough to warrant a change in their current comfort level. Therefore, nothing happens. This is when excuses, blaming others, and the likes come into the picture. I have friends that talk about projects for years, and when you ask them about getting it done, they come up with every excuse in the book. Of course, admitting that they do not really want it and they are too comfortable the way they are now to change anything will not happen. Most of the time, they are not even aware that this is the process that goes on in their head.
To incite action, to trigger change in your life, you need the equation to be such as this:
Comfort level < Rewards after change
Once you are not comfortable, or not enough, in your current situation, you will seek change. You will take action to create change. A very clear example of this is the recent surge in public transportation usage due to higher gas prices. People were still comfortable (even if they were complaining) until it reached a certain point. Then, it became uncomfortable, and thus triggered a change. At that moment, the savings of money became a bigger issue (>) than the comfort of driving your own car.
Tons of businesses are the exact same way. They will only become innovative and revolutionary once they reach a point where the change and its expected results outweigh the comfort level that they currently experience. For change to occur, you need to be uncomfortable enough in your current situation so that the prospect of a new situation becomes more plausible than status quo.
You can help your cause to create change in your life by simply creating a stronger stimulus to help trigger the effort and the action necessary to provide change. Such things as:
- Focus on rewards. You need to almost obsess about it. If you want it bad enough, you will put the wheels in motion to make it a reality
- A clear direction. You need to know which path and what destination you are heading towards. Otherwise, it will be too blurry to incite you to leave your current comfort level
- Reminder of the current negative. By telling yourself and re-assessing all that needs improvement in your current situation, you can formulate enough desire to force you into taking action.
- Find inspiration. You can read blogs, books, watch movies, or talk to people, so that you can see that someone’s been down that road and made it. This will help you realize the possibility of actually reaching that goal and push you towards making the needed effort to get there.
At the end of the day, you are judged by your actions, not your words. You can sit home and complain all you want about how your life isn’t this or that, but until you decide to stand up, get out of your comfort zone and try to make things happen, your life will never ever change.
This psychology of “change” and how it is triggered can be found in everyone and in every situation. A good example is people that try to quit smoking for years or people that try to lose weight for years, yet never seem to fully accomplish it. Their comfort is so high that even the thought of being healthier or more fit cannot overcome it. Therefore, nothing changes.
Let me tell you something: nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing that has ever been created in this world, was created out of comfort. Everything that we have has been created to resolve a discomfort, a solution to a problem in other words. So if you truly want to make a difference in your life and in your world, you must get out of your comfort zone, go out there, and make things happen. It’s all about what you do, not what you say. This is why, answering the question “do you really want to change?” with words is meaningless. You have to answer it with actions.
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