The Myth of Radical Change…
Good afternoon dear reader & welcome to my world for another week. Following on from my comments last week & my moments of being overwhelmed, I was reminded during the week by a business associate of my regular commentary on Productivity. I have a view, in fact strong opinion, to suggest to you friends, the current rate of change is producing the exact lack of productivity you read about just about everywhere, & is in fact the outcome of this continued culture of change.
The myth of radical change & thoughts of overnight success is pervasive in our culture. Experts say things like, “The biggest mistake most people make in life is not setting goals high enough.” Or they tell us, “If you want massive results, then you have to take massive action.”
On the surface, these phrases sound inspiring. What we fail to realize, however, is the fact any quest for rapid growth contradicts every stabilizing force in our lives. Remember, the natural tendency of life is to find stability. Anytime equilibrium is lost, the system is motivated to restore it. 1
If you step too far outside the bounds of your normal performance, then nearly all of the forces in your life will be screaming to get you back to equilibrium. If you take massive action, then you quickly run into a massive roadblock. 2
Nearly anyone who has tried to make a big change in their life has experienced some form of this. Even my experience of shifting towns to a new job creates this very feeling of initial instability. You finally work up the motivation to stick with a new diet only to find your co-workers subtly undermining your efforts. You commit to going for a run each night & within a week you are asked to stay late at work. You start a new meditation habit & your children keep barging into the room.
The forces in our lives which have established our current equilibrium will work to pull us back whether we are trying to change for better or worse. In the words of George Leonard, “Resistance is proportionate to the size & speed of the change, not to whether the change is a favourable or unfavourable one.”
In other words, the faster you try to change, the more likely you are to backslide. The very pursuit of rapid change conjures up a wide range of counteracting forces which are fighting to pull you back into your previous lifestyle. You might be able to beat equilibrium for a little while, but pretty soon your energy fades & the backsliding begins.
In order for change to last, we must work with the fundamental forces in our lives, not against them. Thus, the best way to achieve a new level of balance is not with radical change, but through small wins each day. This is the great paradox of change. If you try to change 3 your life all at once, you will quickly find yourself pulled back into the same patterns as before. But if you merely focus on changing your normal day, you will find your life changes naturally as a side effect.
Thank you for taking the time to be with me once again. I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson, with my best wishes for results in the week ahead. Please take care out there. I look forward to being with you all again next weekend.
1 Courtesy James Clear in the Paradox of Behaviour Change, February 7th 2017