If life is comfortable, let’s be honest – change/risk won’t be on the menu. For many of us, change is the equivalent of taking risks, which explains why so many dislike or fear change.
Is stepping into the unknown and taking a risk desirable? This depends on whether you’re:
1. Stuck in a rut – real or imaginary?
You’ll know when you are – it may be because of your work or family circumstances, or something’s gnawing at your self-esteem. Ask yourself, what would happen if you made a big or minor change? Ruts can take a while to escape, so first diagnose what is holding you back (this requires honesty and perhaps a discussion with a mentor) and then map some realistic steps forward. Your friends or loved ones are not always the people to assist in this regard; their advice can be well-meaning but not pertinent to you.
Maybe you know there is a BIG fork in the road ahead. This is not an impulse; something in your bones (the “inner voice”) is nudging you to make a determined switch in your life’s course.
Sometimes, the “rut” is simply because you’re bored and not applying vigour and imagination. Start stretching yourself a little!
Maybe you know there’s lots to keep you busy, but you feel unsatisfied. Develop new interests, change your diet, resume a shelved project, take up meditation, yoga or a new sport that rewards you – a physical energy absorber of some kind? Sometimes the fidgets may be just your frazzled desires needing some slaking. If sex isn’t on the menu, then massages are good.
2. Feeling overwhelmed by new developments?
There’s a lot of zeitgeist angst going down, granted, and much of it is tech-induced. Some tech solutions are proving to be game-changers. Sifting through them is challenging, let alone keeping your perspective about where you fit, but even deciding on one new skill acquisition or volunteering opportunity is a big step forward for most people. You don’t need to be obsessive about this; just research and decide if there’s gains to be had by welcoming developments into your life. Don’t assume these will be purely financial or even networking opportunities – sometimes you acquire intangible benefits that point you in a fruitful direction.
There can be benefit in learning to tolerate ambiguity and managing insecurity. Instead of fighting against anxiety and accelerating it, accept it and live with what you can do to feel OK in the midst of uncertainty. Sweating the small stuff drains us of energy and peace of mind. When that’s happening, you won’t welcome those enthusiastic for change. You’ll feel you have enough to deal with. In this situation, mindfulness training and meditation is possibly best, since it teaches you to be in the moment, and to breathe deeply and just be.
4. Realising that something isn’t working
This requires willingness to acknowledge when an arrangement is not cutting it, and ceasing things as civilly as possible. Be sure you’ve given your best, though, and explain your reasons – as hasty decisions based on perceived short-term benefits can eliminate a person or opportunity that was just beginning to present itself. Be positive, assertive and never burn bridges. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or ask for a change in what is not working.
5. Honing your decisiveness
Experience, they say, is the best teacher. True: Get as much experience as possible, with as many people and situations as you can. Gobble them up, assess what you learned and your instincts about forthcoming scenarios are considerably improved.
If you’re contemplating risk in business or in your personal circumstances, you don’t want to lose or diminish what you have. Break risk (change) into manageable, discernible components, where possible. Comprehend the drivers in order to offset likely difficulties. Being your own career master, entrepreneur and life manager is achievable.
Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace.