Scared of change? NOT changing is way scarier!
My Mum has always been great at nervously asking me “but…What if?”
In her defense, I certainly haven’t played by the rules in my 27 years. I bought a house at age 21, mortgaged it off, quit my job and moved to Bali for 7 months at age 24, at age 25 I started my own Yoga business and then found out I was pregnant! So the “What if” question has certainly been important in keeping me grounded and logical and not ending up broke, homeless and dripping with children.
Despite this, I feel there is way too much emphasis on the “What if” question and not nearly enough on the far more exciting and life changing question…”What if I don’t?” What will happen if I DON’T quit my job and start my own business, if I DON’T take that trip I always dreamed of to Greece, if I DON’T move to my dream home where I can see the beach, if I DON’T break up with my ‘reliable’ partner of 25 years? What happens if we DON’T trust our instincts? In my opinion, this risk is way scarier.
Change is undoubtedly scary and can make big parts of our lives change irreversibly. What we often forget though, is life is ALWAYS in motion. What we do every day will ALWAYS contribute to what happens tomorrow. Staying in our current position being a good little conventional citizen does not make everything stop nor make us ‘safe’. Life still happens. You will only relent your ability to control HOW it happens. Hoping ‘something’ will happen whilst continuing to do the exact same thing every day is the quickest route to frustration and depression. Boundaries doesn’t keep trouble away, it only fences us in. We need to stop wondering what will happen if we do make a change and imagine what will happen if we do NOT.
Risk is defined as ‘ exposing oneself to a situation where there is a probable or possible negative outcome.’ So therefore, what could be more ‘risky’ than staying in a situation we are already unsatisfied with? We will only cement ourselves further into this situation, become more resentful and make our instincts scream louder and louder. So chances are that if we stay there for another five years because we’re scared of change, we’ll definitely expose ourselves to the risk of unhappiness. Or worse, boredom. Auschwitz survivor Viktor Franki wrote “The existential vacuum manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom.’
Having our mortgage paid, an attractive partner and a steady job will not make us happy if we are just doing it to be ‘safe.’ For sure, if this situation is genuine and soul driven then it will bring us lots of joy, but staying in something that looks safe but doesn’t thrill us doesn’t guarantee happiness. In, fact it doesn’t even guarantee safety because the universe has funny ways of stepping in when we don’t listen to our instincts. The point is, life doesn’t have to be horrible or intolerable for us to want to change. Plain old boredom and tolerance should be enough to motivate us towards more satisfying and compelling adventures. Chances are whatever our ‘wild and crazy’ idea is, is not even as hard as we think. Life has a very sneaky little way of helping you along when you listen to your instincts.
3 years ago, when I decided I wanted to move to Bali to live for 6 months. I had no idea of how I would afford it, where I was going to live or what would come of it all at the end. Well within 7 days of the decision I had found renters for my house way above normal price, found an amazing house right in Ubud’s centre for a great rate and been offered to teach and train Yoga with one of the world’s most knowledgeable and renowned Yoga teachers.
Looking back on this experience, it was undoubtedly one of the most important and transformative adventures of my life. It was the catalyst for becoming who I am today, ending up with the amazing partner I am with now and the career path I chose to take.
Now I think, what if I had not taken that chance? Where would I be right now? What if, “What if” was just too scary and so I shut down my instincts and ‘played it safe’?
I will never know the answer to this question, but what I do know is this. Making a big life change is pretty scary, but you know what I find even scarier? Regret. So next time that ‘What if?’ question haunts you, replace it with ‘So what?’
Because chances are staying put might just be the scariest thing you ever do.