If you do nothing, nothing will change

In getting things done, life by neville

Every three months or so I run a workshop introducing the Tornado Method to local entrepreneurs. The workshops are well attended – after all, who wouldn’t want to know how to deal with overwhelm in their business (which is how I advertise the workshops).

I’ve been doing these workshops for a while now. The practice has helped me refine them to the point where they are high impact, get a lot of interaction (and laughs) and a number of people who come up to me afterwards to say thank you and ask questions.

But this is not about how great I am at running workshops. This is about how much action people actually take as a result.

You need to do something for things to change

Of course, I don’t know exactly what people do after the workshop. But I can track how many people download the free guide I offer during the workshop (and there are no strings attached). And it is far fewer than I would have expected.

And no, this is not about me complaining that people are not doing what I recommend they do. This is about the number of people expressing a need for change, and the few that actually do something about it.

What holds us back?

There are of course legitimate reasons why we don’t do something to change the situation we’re in. Sometimes we just have too much to do. Sometimes we can’t afford to make a change, or we’re focused on getting something else done.

But from experience I know that many people will express a need for change, but few will actually do anything to make it happen.

Over the last few months I’ve encountered a number of people that have made radical changes in their lives. One quit her job to start her own venture; another is just starting out on his journey to make big changes in how he works – and eventually what he does.

But we’re not all ready to make those big changes.

The fear of the unknown is probably the biggest barrier we have to overcome. It’s easy to sit on the sideline and criticise people for not making a change – but I know from personal experience that making a big change is difficult. We know where we are, we’re comfortable with an uncomfortable situation and what lies on the other side of change is more frightening than where we are now.

But if we don’t take action, we will be where we are now forever.

What can you do?

The first step in changing where you are is to figure out if you really want to make a change.

This sounds a little counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? We want to make a change, but we have to figure out whether we want to make a change? Stick with me for just a minute.

Sometimes we feel that we want to make a change because change represents excitement and adventure. There are unknown and interesting things out there, and if we just made a little change we could be off on wild adventures.

But where we are may not be that bad. We may just be in a rut and not see the beauty around us.

Have you ever noticed how the locals are the last people to go and visit a famous historical site? Or something world-famous where all the tourists go but the locals avoid?

That is a case of not seeing the beauty around us. We’re so used to the things we see every day that we’ve forgotten how beautiful it can be. We’re not mindful of where we are, the moment we are in.

So the first thing you have to do is figure out if “here” is such a bad thing. Take stock – really dig down and figure out if where you are is so bad. You may be in for a surprise – I’ve done this a couple of times and surprised myself.

If, after you’ve done that, you feel that you still need a change, here are some things that can make it easier.

If the fear of change is paralysing you, start small. Change does not always have to be big and frightening. Especially when you’re really afraid (and most of us are at some point), big change can be out of your reach.

So start small. Make one little change that will make you happy. Go explore, see what this change does for you, and figure out if it really was that scary. Most of the time you will find that it is the fear of the unknown that held you back, and the unknown is actually not that bad.

Reach out. There is so much help around us – if only we had the courage to reach out and ask. The first step in change – in overcoming the fear of the unknown – is asking people who have been there. You will find a depth of knowledge, encouragement and anecdotes. Some will scare you, others will make you want to learn more.

But when you reach out – whatever you eventually decide to do – you’ve taken the first step.

What will trip you up?

Of course you’re going to encounter trips and falls. That’s just life. Whether it’s a family member telling you that you’re an idiot, a “friend” holding you back or real adversity, expect things to be different once you’ve made the change.

Because that’s the definition of change – things are going to be different. So expect things to not quite be what you expected them to be – but also expect to be surprised and delighted. Because that’s what is mostly on the other side of change.

If you do nothing, nothing will change

You may be happy where you are even if you don’t realise it. So take stock – really figure out if “here” is as bad as you think it is.

And if you decide that you still want change, take a small step. Like the cliche has it, a journey of a thousand miles really starts with the first step. If you never take the step, you’ll always wonder what could have been.

Good luck. It’s a wonderful world if you choose to see it that way. And a wonderful journey too.