Changing On Purpose

Paul Heagen Uncategorized Leave a Comment

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. They generally don’t work. Research backs me up: According to the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of Americans make some kind of New Year’s resolution. Guess how many say they made any progress on those resolutions?

Eight percent.

Part of that is just a cop out to the calendar.

If we were really determined to (pick yours:) lose weight, exercise more, get organized, take up a new hobby, etc., we would do it, and not wait for some day on the calendar to marshal our resolve. We dither because, well, we enjoy our misery or ambivalence too much, or abhor the work it will take to change.

Changing on Purpose Becomes a Choice, not a Circumstance

Change threatens our status quo. In truth, biology and physics pursue homeostasis – that condition where systems are in balance, where risks and rewards hold each other in check, where impulse is regulated by reason, where dreams are tethered to common sense. The product of such dynamics is stability. Who doesn’t want stability? We assign our envy to people living that balanced life, to those who seem to have found that symmetry. We want everything in balance, stable, predictable.

Except, we can lose something in that quest. If everything we do is measured against our need for stability and constancy, we narrow our pursuits (and our resolutions!) so they don’t threaten those parts of our lives and enterprises we have neatly arranged and tamped into place. Over time, we can fend off new experiences, knowledge and unknowns and see them as threats, as unwelcome intruders to our safe places. We cling to the familiar and lose our capacity to embrace risk.

Changing on purpose — not for the outcomes alone but for the mental and emotional exercise it presents — we come to the realization that the biggest threat to our future is not change, but our fears and discomfort about it.

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