The world of motivation is definitely on top of trends now. Motivational speakers are springing up like mushrooms and, more importantly, constantly have clients. What does it mean? It means that people really need someone to make them move forward to work, learn, lose weight, quit habits, take up something new, end a relationship, make a decision, and stop complaining, to mention but a few. After the training or session, their lives change dramatically: they get to work and learn, are slim and fit, quit smoking and toxic relationships, start making and implementing female/male decisions, stop complaining and think positively, generating good energy, and spreading it all over…
As reported from various sources, one of the most popular plans and resolutions of Poles is to lose weight and change their appearance, and another one is to quit addictions and change work for a better one. However, the truth is that few change hardly anything after training courses and motivational sessions. Plans and decisions languish in the realm of wishes. The things are constantly postponed until tomorrow and we start complaining saying “Nothing is working out for me.”
Why do we find it so hard to persevere with our decisions and resolutions?
In any change, we need to meet several factors to implement it. Depending on whether or not our change is big and significant, we may need to take the risk of conquering the unknown. Conquering the unknown definitely does not mean a two-week trip to exotic countries with a hotel and full-board package guaranteed. It can be true survival. To make a decision to go for it, we need to truly accept it and intrinsically know that it is right. This is the case when we take a decision to open our own business. We have to be prepared for ups and downs, the latter being often very painful. We also have to consider our predispositions, stamina, and resilience so that we can carry out our plan consistently. In short, we have to leave our comfort zone.
The comfort zone is a psychological, often very illusory, space of safety. Being stuck in our comfort zone is a trap that prevents us from taking on new challenges for fear of failure and loss of security, or loss of comfort, in general. A prisoner locked up in a prison, understood both literally and figuratively, is a prominent example of this situation. Prisoners feel save in a prison as they got used to it, took care of their position in a hierarchy and know the rules.
Undoubtedly, leaving the comfort zone also requires strict discipline, which is extremely difficult to implement in the long run. In our self-talk, the decisions to go on a draconian diet, stop smoking and learn a foreign language or shape the stomach in the gym are soon likely to turn into the conviction that there are more pleasant things to do, and these things are probably old habits that die hard. Once we have toned our stomach, we need to maintain it. We realise that a dream weight or sculpted body we achieved is only the beginning. An attribute of any result achieved is that we need to keep it going. What costs more sacrifices: reaching the goal or maintaining it, developing it and going for further achievements? The answer is not obvious. In a moment of weakness, we fall into an emotional and weight yoyo. Our motivation bursts like a bubble and we have a sense of failure. Consequently, our self-esteem declines very rapidly. The mere talk about the change, to be introduced from the New Year, from Monday, or from tomorrow, is becoming tiring and demotivating. The longer we hold on to the belief of failure, the harder it is to decide to make a change. Conversely, if we manage to overcome our weaknesses, our self-esteem grows, and each achievement lifts us up and gives us motivation to reach for more.
Change makes us fearful and resistant especially when we need to comply with it. This is the case at work, for example. Sometimes, we automatically oppose to rearranging a desk, changing the way we send an e-mail or introducing a new procedure. On the side, we discuss with others and question the changes asking „What’s the point? After all, everything was fine. It doesn’t make sense.” This behaviour accurately reflects the thesis of the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer claims that every investigation of truth, and thus change, passes through three stages. First, truth is ridiculed. We say, “what are you doing, man,” “there’s no way it’s going to work,” “shooting for the moon.” When we come to realise that it has a good chance of success and works, it is violently opposed. We say, “he’s always sticking his oar in,” “I’m not going to do it.” Unfortunately, this stage also passes. Finally, the new order becomes self-evident. Everyone accepts it and obtains better results. And once something needs to be changed again in it, we are going to re-oppose.
Interestingly, implementing changes in organisations and workplaces is so difficult that it has become the subject of change management research. Change management is a process that cannot be fully planned, predicted or defined because it takes place in a human team, i.e. a group typically opposing to change.
However safely and smoothly we would like to get through life, we should bear in mind that, as Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 BC – 475 BC) said, “change is the only constant.” Since when he lived, nothing has changed in this regard except one thing: changes in the world happen very quickly and we need to catch up with it trying to adapt to changes in our lives as quick as possible. It is worth considering whether decisions about our own lives and changes are going to be made by us or by someone else. After all, adapting to external requirements, such as changing weather or a new traffic code, is also a change. Alternatively, we can decide not to make any changes, but it means that we have made a decision anyway. The only thing we should remember is that we should not spread our passive attitude and delusion of comfort to others. For the world has never adapted to the individual in its history.