If the magic is outside the comfort zone, why is it so hard to leave it?

We intrinsically resist change, especially those that threaten our comfort zone despite the benefits we expect to see in the future. And commitment tends to be short term as the current world is all about short term results: the next quarter financials in organisations, the fastband speed for immediate downloads, the quick falling in love, immediate recognition… 

We also resist change due to fear, fear of the unknown, fear of making a mistake, fear of losing the little something we have, even fear of success. Resistance to change comes not only from the people around you but from you too. And sometimes, you can be your own worst handicap to achieving your goals.

We take the path of least resistance. However, some results take time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the Romans were committed to making it. Changing a habit, a way of working, a form of living takes some time and has its ups and downs.

But let me give you a sneak peek: dealing with resistance to change is not rocket science, and I will explain why. 

You have to understand people’s behaviour along the Change Curve. By doing so, you will know why people react the way they do or why you sabotage your dreams.  

The Change Curve is based on a model initially developed in the 1960s by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to explain the 5 Stages of the grieving process: denial, anger, doubt, acceptance, moving on. Since then, it has been widely utilised to help people understand their reactions to significant change or disruption. 

Your level of resistance depends on the acceptance of the change you are making. Ideally, you are making a change because you want it. In such cases, you are in the acceptance stage from the very beginning, and your resistance is limited to some of the actions you have to carry out, which you find unpleasant. Overall, you see the big picture, and the benefits of your change surpass all doubts or any discomfort you might have along the journey.

If you are in a situation where the change has been imposed on you, or you feel you have to do it and are not convinced or afraid of the effort or failure, you might be at the beginning of the change curve facing your denial and anger. In such situations, don’t look to address possible Issues on your own or try to leave your comfort zone; look for a mentor or a sponsor to help you move forward.

A mentor can be a boss, a friend, a colleague, a psychologist… someone who can help you with objective guidance to overcome your resistance.

When it comes down to convincing yourself about moving forward with making a change, do the following exercise. Take a pen and paper and answer the following questions:

  • What exactly am I afraid of?
  • What do I earn by changing?
  • What do I have to lose?
  • What will I lose if I do nothing?

Be specific and objective. This exercise is just for you. You don’t have to share it with anyone if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. The answers to these questions will allow you to gain perspective with regards to the change you want. They will help you decide if you wish to change. If you do, you will commit and leave your comfort zone, your status quo. You will move forward.