SOMETIMES positive or negative change is forced upon us and we have no choice but to react to circumstances. For example, we land an unexpected commission (yippee) and need to work 24/7 to get it done or we lose a contract and have to find a new source of income PDQ.
However, in many instances, we want to make changes but do nothing about it. For example, we sit on an idea for ages and kick ourselves when somebody else has a similar idea but successfully puts it into action before we do.
As a freelance, the ability to create new opportunities through instigating change is a huge plus, perhaps even a necessity, so why do we stop ourselves taking action even when we have the potential to do so? Consider the following reasons:
It’s unclear. If you have vague ideas but haven’t defined exactly what you want to do, you’re unlikely to do anything. To get yourself off the starting blocks, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, i.e., your goal, and then you can work out how to get there.
It’s scary. There are no guarantees that you’ll get the result that you’re aiming for and fear of failure and/or the unknown are common reasons why people resist change.
However, while clinging to an ‘uncomfortable comfort zone’ may seem less frightening in the short run, it can lead to negative consequences in the long run especially if lack of action means that you cut off or avoid new experiences including exciting work opportunities.
It is perfectly normal to be scared in the face of change, but don’t let this put you off. Much of our fear is often in our imagination and it only subsides when we actually start doing and stop thinking. As writer Susan Jeffers says ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’.
It won’t work out for me. We can’t control everything in life but we can believe that we have just as much right to succeed as anyone else. Also, external factors will change even if we don’t, so it’s important that we take control where we can to give ourselves the best chance of moving forward in the direction that we want to go rather than a direction that someone else tells us to move in.
Some people are their own worst critic and talk themselves out of trying even before they’ve started. Any successful person will tell you that there is no such thing as failure so no matter what you do you can learn from the experience. As American presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says: “There is a sense that things, if you keep positive and optimistic about what can be done, do work out.”
It’s hard work. Yes, most things worth doing are and will often come at a cost to other areas of your life – at least in the short run. This means that you need to value what you are about to do to ensure that you stay motivated until you achieve the change you’re aiming for.
Beware of doing things because you think you ‘should’, perhaps because of what others are doing. To test how much you want to change a particular area of your life, ask yourself: “What will happen if I do nothing?” and “What will happen if I do make that change?” Sometimes, you’ll find that you’re happy where you are for the moment (thank you very much) so can enjoy the present without stressing about what could, might or should happen next.
It’s too difficult. Some things may seem too difficult to achieve from a cursory glance but once you’ve looked into it more closely, you realise that it’s more straightforward than you think.
Even if the change you wish to make is going to be difficult – perhaps you will need to gain new skills and make other investments over time - it’s often the case that the more hard won something is, the more interesting the journey and more satisfying the result. So, rather than getting overwhelmed and stopping dead in your tracks, break down the intended change into more manageable steps and take the first leap of faith before you think yourself static.