In politics, if a candidate changes their position on an issue, they will be accused of flip-flopping. The accusation is unfair because being open to change when confronted by new information is often evidence of personal growth, common sense, and the ability to reason.
A person unwilling to change can’t grow, improve themselves, or improve their results. If nothing changes, nothing changes. You grow when you do something differently, whether it’s what you believe or how you act.
Before we explore the unwillingness to change, you could jot down the major changes you have made over the last couple of years. If this is a tough assignment, it may mean you haven’t changed in any meaningful way. This could be a sign that you resist change.
The Obstacles to Change
There are many potential obstacles that prevent us from making changes we need to be able to grow and improve our results and lives. Most of them are rooted in our ways of thinking. Here are a few of the most powerful obstacles:
- Habit: We build habits, and the longer we engage in them, the harder they are to change. Because the habit is burned into your behavior and is part of the backdrop to your everyday life, it can be difficult to break. It can also prevent you from making change. Breaking these habits isn’t easy, but if you want something enough, it can overpower the pull of habit.
- Comfort: When you are comfortable, change often threatens that, at least in the beginning. Most of us prefer to stay with what we know, instead of facing the temporary discomfort of doing something differently.
- Others’ opinions: I hope that your friends or family or coworkers have complained that you have changed. When this happens, it is often because you have raised your standard. Those who need others’ approval will struggle to make change when they know they will be criticized.
- No desire: Without the drive to be or have something, you likely will not be willing to change. Or, if you try, you might find it’s unsustainable. Nothing is more common than a person who desires something but fails to acquire it simply because they are unwilling to change.
- Uncertainty: You may want to make a significant change but are uncertain about how to do it. Books and courses can help you understand the mechanics of making the change to achieve your goal. Often, committing to a change can be as simple as making time for it, and protecting that time tenaciously until the change becomes part of your routine.
- Belief that no change is necessary: Some people believe they are perfect the way they are and need no improvement. If you are not growing, you are ossifying, becoming rigid, making you brittle and fragile. Growth comes from change.
It is entirely up to you to overcome these obstacles. Failure to do so will leave you stagnant and prevent your growth.
Personal and Professional Development
Several factors need to be present if you want personal and professional growth.
- New beliefs: Significant change starts with new beliefs. Perhaps you recognize that you can improve in some way, or you might see someone else make a change, helping you believe that you can do the same.
- Vision: You can overcome the obstacles to change by developing a vision of the person that comes after the person you are now. To become the next, better version of yourself, you must eliminate who you are now. The clearer you can see that future self, the easier it will be for you to overcome your unwillingness to change.
- Burning desire: Everyone wants something. Few, however, have the burning desire to get them what they want. You know people who want something, but are unwilling to motivate themselves to make the change to acquire it.
- New actions: New beliefs and a compelling vision need new actions to bring them to life. It is only evident that you will change when you take action, doing something differently than you have in the past.
- Effort: Change and improvement require effort. You must do the work to produce the changes you need to bring your vision to life. Effort is necessary for change. The greater the effort, the more certain you are to change.
- Consistency: Every January, I watch the gym parking lot fill until there are no spaces. In February, you can park in the first row. Good intentions are worthless. Making a positive change means taking new actions consistently.
Beliefs and Behavioral Changes
The willingness to change requires new beliefs and behavioral changes, which are often long-held and difficult to replace. Some people have a harder time changing their beliefs, so they lack the motivation and confidence to pursue what they want. Others believe they can change, but struggle to maintain the behavior that would support it. These problems can also overlap.
One reason you may not have what you want is because you haven’t changed your beliefs or your behaviors. If your beliefs no longer serve you, replace them with new ones that will help you grow. Then, you must make the behavioral changes that will improve you personally and professionally.
The Unwillingness to Change
The more unwilling a person is to change, the more fragile they become. The same holds true for organizations. As the rate of change in our environment accelerates, our ability to keep pace begins to falter. We like stasis and equilibrium, but the rapid changes occurring now mean those comfortable states can no longer serve us.
Alvin Toffler, the futurist said: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” If you are not learning, unlearning, and relearning, you are breaking the new rules of the new world as it speeds into a future that will differ from anything that came before it.
Reality isn’t concerned about your opinions or preferences. As the world spins faster and faster, you would do well to consider your existing beliefs and behaviors, and make changes that will allow you to keep pace and succeed.