“Change takes time.”
What if we’re wrong? What if the assumption that change takes time is little more than an easy way out of attempting to change?
What if it becomes an excuse for inaction, for maintaining a purposely obtuse attitude relative to a problem, or as a means to dismiss or defer responsibility?
We talk about our attitudes toward change – personal change, changing our life circumstances, changing our bodies and our mindsets. We talk about organizational change, political and economic change, social change.
Hello… Change Industry?
Change Management, Change Industry
From personal and organizational standpoints, we’ve turned the notion of change into monster business opportunities for companies and individuals. And why not? In business, we recognize problems and seek experts who can make more than a temporary fix. In our personal lives, most of us are overrun by too much to do and too little time; we seek ways to simplify, to change something – anything – to feel as if we’re managing better.
As for those who assist us as agents of change, isn’t it in their best (financial) interest to insist that change takes time? Not to mention, that change even for the sake of change is “good” – in perpetuity – in order to “creatively” shake things up?
Setting aside change that must occur within complex organizational and interpersonal systems – what if, in more cases than we realize, it simply isn’t so that change takes time?
I was reading an article recently talking about American education. Written in a conversational tone, the author made observations, proposed more discussion, recommended certain directions toward action, and said that of course, change takes time.
Those words stopped me cold. Why? Why do we buy into the premise that every type of change takes time? Shouldn’t we separate suggestions and recommendations that genuinely take time to implement from those that could be accomplished in a matter of days? Why is “it will take time” our default position?
Sure, we know that to change a habit takes approximately 21 to 28 days, or so we are told. For some of us it takes longer, and for others it takes much less time.
When it comes to personal change, everything isn’t about a habit – whether you are of the “change in 7 days” crowd or “change in 28 days.”
Make Positive Changes – Fast
Haven’t you ever experienced a light bulb moment that altered your views and actions immediately? Haven’t you ever made a resolution or decision that you implemented in a day – or an hour? My own answer to those questions is yes, in both instances.
Without question, some scenarios are far more involved, expensive and challenging than others and change is a slow, complex process. Attitude and determination don’t hurt, but they simply cannot get the job done. On the other hand —
- What about near-immediate gains made from a change in technology, or for that matter, a change of address?
- What about the immediate improvements to productivity with the proper desk, an ergonomic chair, good lighting?
- What about a switch in exercise routine that automatically leaves you better off?
- What about other personal changes that involve uncomplicated processes, for example you walk the mile from home to work instead of driving?
These are examples of “just do it” — easily applied to our advantage.
Is it a matter of what’s at stake? If, for instance, a doctor gives us lifestyle instructions (lose weight, stop smoking, cut down on alcohol, start walking) – or we risk a heart attack or stroke – don’t some of us make those changes literally overnight?
Here’s one more thought: Stop doing what doesn’t work! Stop right now! (Exactly. The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, and it applies to everything from too much of this to too little of that.)
More Opportunities for Immediate Change
How many changes have I not made, assuming that I would require more time than I had available?
Did I condemn myself to inaction by the “change takes time” assumption?
A change in work approach – methods used for organization of tasks, for example – can be implemented readily and yield rapid results. A change in dating strategy in the online world, likewise. A change in priorities – sleep for example – may reap results as quickly as a day or two later.
Naturally, with sleep as with other physiological and psychological issues, change may be less within our control than can be achieved by a decision to re-prioritize; some changes require time, medications, counseling, a change of environment, weaning off addictions and a variety of other interventions.
So what about issues pertaining to the health of our nation? Should we in fact assume that all improvements will take time? Doesn’t that feel like defeat before we even imagine those improvements?
What if we table the assumptions that too readily provide us excuses? If we assume that change is difficult and requires months or years, isn’t that a self-fulfilling prophecy? Here’s a suggestion: Let’s change the very assumption that change takes time! Let’s throw it out as our starting basis, and in so doing, think more creatively about the likelihood of accomplishing positive change sooner rather than later.
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