Dear Barb—The Less Things Change

Dear Barb:

Hi, I have been working at the same place for over twenty years and I am so burnt out.  I need a change, but I am so fearful of making such a big move.  What if I don’t like the new job, or I don’t get along with my coworkers.  My husband is supportive and so are my kids.  I don’t understand why I am so afraid of change.  I guess I like consistency.  My growing up years were stable with no big trauma and I am afraid to rock the boat and step out of my comfort zone.  Do you have any suggestions on things I can do to widen my horizons?

Thanks – Stuck.

Hey Stuck:

If it’s any comfort, you are not alone and it is very common to resist change.  We are all more comfortable with the familiar.

Case in point: one study had a group of people view a painting that they were told was done in 1905.  The next group viewed the same painting but this group was told that the painting was done in 2005.  The 1905 group rated the painting much more aesthetically pleasing than the other group.

We like that which has been around for a while.  That’s the obvious reason for why we don’t like change.

Some of the reasons why change is so uncomfortable include feelings that we are losing control, we don’t know what is ahead and we are not familiar with our surroundings.  We remain where we are, even though we are not happy and may even be in dire circumstances, simply because it’s familiar.  An example is a woman who is being beaten by her husband, but chooses to stay with him rather than face an uncertain future that she fears may be a worse situation than she is in now.  According to much research, the fear of change is one of the main reasons why individuals are not moved into top management positions.

Change is an inevitable part of our lives, so we must learn to adapt and not fear it.  To help you overcome a fear of change, especially in the workplace try taking the time to adjust to your new situation; you are not going to feel comfortable overnight.  Also, maintain a positive outlook and be open to new opportunities and challenges.  If you view the move negatively, that will only confirm your fear that change is not a good thing.  Keep your stress levels to a minimum by regular meditation.  Accept support from your family and friends, remember your situation is changing, but your anchors will always be there for you.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
–George Bernard Shaw


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