For the past year I have been cleaning up, changing, maneuvering, and moving things around. I made physical changes, emotional changes, and I’ve changed my mind over just about everything at least 10 times. Along the way, I’ve discovered there are small things that are easy to change, like rewriting copy or altering a lead generation funnel. But changing other things can be much harder, like difficult personal relationships or letting go of a photography business venture that I enjoy but just doesn’t make enough money. (And I am STILL pushing it, putting in time and money…)
I compare this to acting like a junkie. We must be addicted to the drama or the difficulty. Otherwise, why would we stick with something that causes us pain? And why do we resist changing something that’s not working for us?
In this Forbes article, Carol Kinsey Gorman explains why we prefer the discomfort of a well-known routine over the excitement and challenge of creating something new. She says,
- “Most of our daily activities, including many of our work habits, are controlled by a part of the brain called the basal ganglia. These habitual, repetitive tasks take much less mental energy to perform because they have become ‘hardwired’ and we no longer have to give them much conscious thought. ‘The way we’ve always done it’ is mentally comfortable. It not only feels right–it feels good.”
It is our own brain that hinders us from change. It’s a little voice calling from our third eye that tells us to stay put. We justify our ways because what we already have is the safe bet. It COULD be WORSE, right? But, what we neglect to think about is the increasing pressure and discomfort we experience when we don’t live up to our full potential. That’s when we break down, have a fallout, or go through a complete meltdown. I see this happen often with very serious consequences, like losing a job or ending a 20-year relationship.
Can you relate?
Change pushes us out of our comfort zone. Gorman compares it to the brain’s fear circuit, which is responsible for our fight-or-flight response. Like anyone under attack (even when our own brain is the perpetrator), we want to run away. And when we are pushed into a corner and change is inevitable, we do just about everything but deal with it NOW.
If you are struggling to get ahead of your bills and can’t seem to find those assignments that make you excited to get out of bed, it is time for something new. I’d bet you have lots of great income-generating ideas—things that could propel your career—but they involve a bit of a risk. Realize that what holds you back is the boundary of your comfort zone. It is keeping you from achieving better. Make no mistake about it, being comfortable is NOT how you become successful.
What can we do differently?
If your work routine feels safe, yet you are unhappy with where you are in your career, you are not getting enough of what you really want. This perpetual internal conflict causes the discomfort we need to push ourselves to finally make the change. It is time to reinvent yourself and your business in the image of your most ambitious goals.
Even when we don’t know what letting go and changing course will ‘get’ us, understand that something better is still coming. Make whatever you are holding onto that isn’t what you really want just a stepping stone along your path to true success.
What is something you should have changed a long time ago?