When I teach workshops on communication and trust, we often start with the notion of change. Making a paradigm shift can be the most difficult thing for most of us to do, mostly because we are such creatures of habit. How do you order your coffee? The same way you have since you can't remember when? I have a routine, maybe even just a little bit of a ritual, I go through when I get to the parking lot where I keep my car when I travel. From the moment I give the guy my frequent parker card to the time I sit down on the plane, I have a set routine: get suitcase that is filled to overflowing out of the car (maybe stuff one more thing in it, so the zipper doesn't want to close), get in the shuttle to go to the airport, tip the driver (after rummaging through my bills and maybe even organizing them from least denomination to greatest denomination---isn't OCD a kick in the pants?), head inside the airport, go through TSA pre-check security----WAIT!!! My routine has just come to a screeching halt! The TSA pre-check line is closed today! How can that be? Do they not realize I don't want to take off these boots because my socks may or may not have a hole in them????? How inconvenient!! I have to go through the regular line?? Are you serious? It should be noted that my entire quandary took longer than it likely takes to go through the regular security line in Tucson.
What's the point? Change is hard. Don't even get me started on how it rocks my world if the little cafe is out of Diet Pepsi. How will I ever be able to board the plane without my Diet Pepsi? Yes, I am talking about some serious first-world problems, here, but it begs the question: Why is change so hard for so many of us?
We are creatures of habit, so change makes us make a shift from what we might normally do. Even if the change is for the good, we may find ourselves resisting the change. I saw this video about DOGS WITH BOOTIES and couldn't help but giggle. Check out the resistance and maybe you will recognize your own mannerisms or those of your co-workers when faced with a new procedure or mandate. We often spend so much time fretting about the change, we miss the opportunity to simply do it and move on.
What can we do to lessen the pains of change?
1. Gripe then get to it. Maybe take a few minutes to grumble, perhaps alone or maybe with the company of your peers, but then someone needs to be able to say, "Okay, let's get to the solution." One of my favorite teachers says "Can't never could do anything." Exactly!
2. Consider the benefits of the change. One of my favorite examples of this is when, at workshops, participants grumble when we ask them to get up and change partners for the next activity. You would think we are asking them to give up their first-born child. What's the problem? They have nested in their first spot. So, I start out workshops from the beginning, letting them know they will be working with multiple partners throughout the day and asking THEM what the benefits of such a move might be. Knowing the purpose makes all the difference in the world. I always remind myself and others, "If we always do what we have always done, we will always get what we have always gotten."
3. Fake it 'til you make it. Anyone who has ever worked in a 12-step program has likely heard this saying. In practice, it means that even if we aren't firmly convinced the change will be good for us, we just take the next step as if we did believe in the goodness of the change. Take another step forward, and we may actually see some merit in the very thing we were resisting. The premise of this step is grounded in the notion that changing our behavior can help us change our thoughts and feelings.
My hope for you, today, is that if you can't embrace a new change, perhaps you can maybe keep the booties on until you see that they might just keep your feet warm.