Don’t Fear the Change

managing change Last fall I decided that I needed to move out to San Francisco. Last April I actually signed a lease. Between mid-November and early March I traveled back and forth from Reno to the Bay Area twice a week (via trains, planes and automobiles) taking shelter in everything from Airbnb rentals to hostels.

This was quite easily the most uncomfortable 4 months of my life and it all could have been easily avoided if I had just made a firm decision, embraced change and picked one path versus straddling the fence of indecision.

But noooo….. someone (this gal) was too frightened of change and unwilling to let things go to take a plunge that would change her life.

Don’t wait as long as I have

Have you experienced this in your life? I believe it’s one of the most common threads that bind humankind,the fear of change and our desperate desire to cling to what’s considered “safe”. But safe, comfortable choices rarely become the stuff of legend and weak people rarely make history…

So what’s the answer? Well… I’ve yet to find a magic bullet that eliminates the gut wrenching fear of the unknown while whetting our appetite for change. But, I have adapted several tools that over the last 6 months have turned me from a jello-legged change avoider to a bolder, slightly more brazen little gal.

  1. Stop watering the fear plant. Yep, get used to the knot in your stomach. As I write this I have a knot in my stomach because of all the effort I’m putting into Zirtual. It’s the feeling of “ooooh no” that the scared, comfort seeking child who lives within me puts off every time she senses imminent change or uncertainty. I used to immediately seek safety when I felt that gnawing but now I rough it out because I know the more I refuse to acknowledge that fear, the faster it will die out. It’s like refusing to water an ugly plant, if you ignore it long enough it will eventually collapse.
  2. Exposure therapy. The best way I’ve found to fight the fear of change and instead embrace it is to act upon the things you fear the most. When I signed a lease in S.F. I was forcing myself to do something that scared me to death. Leaving a lover, going to events alone or staring down a spider – all of these things that may currently frighten you will lose their grip as you expose yourself more and more to them.
  3. Actively seek out change. This goes with the point above, I now chase down change and throw myself on it. Often this scares the crap out of me, but more often it leads to something good. My friend Ev has been talking about un-tethering a lot lately, and I must say I dig his ideas on it. My favorite change seeking adventure is going out alone – I mean be safe, but be alone. Go to events, restaurants, movies alone – and watch as you begin to really enjoy your own company. Most people’s biggest fear is to be alone, conquer that fear and nothing can stop you.

Instead I’ve been one of those “holders” for longer than I can remember. I will latch onto something and hold it near and dear come hell or high water – even long after I’ve realized that it’s not the right choice.

It’s probably rooted in a deep fear of change, but unfortunately change is the only thing in life that’s consistent. When I finally made the plunge, after weaning myself off the State I’ve called home for 14 years, I was much happier. Now I’m going through the rough parts of adjusting to a new life, learning to be happy alone and letting go of everything I’ve gotten used to for the last 25 years – the fear of change bug is back, but I’m managing and it makes me stronger each time I overcome that nasty beast.

What have you been holding onto for too long? What scares you the most and how can you face it?