Making Progress with Change
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“Change doesn’t always mean you’ll make progress, but progress does always mean making a change.”
I heard this line while listening to talk radio late one night while traveling on business. It made an impact on me immediately.
I’ve always been interested in what separates the “Go-Getters” from those that seem 2B “Drifters.” It is two distinct personality types and it is usually quite apparent.
Drifters stay in their comfort zone and do not want to upset the status quo. These things keep them in a happy place. A positive about Drifters is that they like to stick to a routine, and assuming this routine is followed, they can be reasonably productive and efficient. But what keeps their lives constant and normal may also deprive them of a true sense of adventure. They may miss out on opportunities by believing that things are just fine the way they are. It inhibits or, at the very least, stalls change.
There is something distinctly different about Go-Getters. They push the limits, try new things and seek out change. A comfort zone is great but they wonder, “could it be better?” This passion fuels them to always want to try new things, because the grass could be greener on the other side. Sometimes this backfires. The Go-Getter may struggle to commit and bounce from profession to profession (or location to location), not realizing that what is best may be what is right in front of them.
Of course, most people fall somewhere on the continuum of Go-Getter to Drifter, but for the most part I’ve seen this as a stable personality trait. This means if you’re a Go-Getter in the job world it is likely you are also a Go-Getter in your hobbies. You’ll sway more towards one side in basically everything you do.
Regardless of which category you believe you fall into, the take home point is that change is good. Due to nature and nurture, we all have varying levels of change we’re able to deal with and any change above and beyond this will only cause unnecessary stress.
I remember the movie Into the Wild, and the lead actor says the core of a man’s existence comes from new experiences. I agree. New experiences should not be seen as a threat - they should be seen as a challenge.
So, if you want to become better in any area (professionally, personally, athletically) it WILL require making a change. Doing the same thing over and over and over again won’t do it (hello, definition of insanity?). It is essential that you add a new ingredient to the mix. This may be doing what you’re doing now, but doing more of it. Or it could involve doing something different. But both are changes and I would empower you to view this change as an open ended opportunity for growth and development.
Before you decide you’re going to start changing every aspect of your life (just for the sake of changing it) you need to reread the first quote in this article and realize that change doesn’t always mean you’ll make progress - otherwise it would be easy. One of the primary reasons people are resistant to change is that they fear change could actually make things worse. What should you do?
Your solution: Focused Change.
Focused change means targeting your time and energy in the specific area in which you want to develop. Don’t try to change everything all at once - it will be too big a shock to your system. You can’t change your job, and your hobbies, and your diet, and your relationships, and your workout routine, and your spiritual life, at the same time. Too many people make this common mistake.
Instead, focus on one single thing, in one area of your life, that you can change immediately.
There are differing opinions on how long you have to practice something to make it a habit, but it is likely somewhere in the 3-6 week timeframe. So, focus on your one thing and get it done. It can be something so seemingly simple that most people would barely consider it a change, such as waking up 10 minutes earlier, staying 10 minutes later at work, or drinking one extra glass of water per day. Start small and just get the ball rolling.
Cheers to Progress and Change!
Scott Welle, MS, PES, CSCS, ITCA, PFT
A word of caution don’t make the mistake of adopting a totally black and white mentality, where you’re either all-in or all-out. Not many people can totally reinvent some aspect of their lifestyle overnight. This may lead to short-term change but it almost never ends up in long-term progress.
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