What Change May Be Like for You
It intensifies the basic fear of the unknown. It follows then that fear is the cause of procrastination. No matter how unacceptable your current situation may be, it’s known to you. Anything different is not. For this reason, moving forward and making progress toward your goals is supposed to feel uncomfortable. Change does not have to be agony, but it certainly will activate uncomfortable feelings. Remember the Dilbert cartoon that says, “Change is good. You go first”? Fear is chronically linked to change. Unacknowledged fear causes procrastination. At the beginning of an important project, there is fear of failure or fear that you will not be able to reach completion. Toward the end of the project, as success gets closer and more certain, the emotional experience tends to shift to fear about what success may mean. Expect to feel a little uncomfortable about making changes. The discomfort is natural and does not mean that you are doing something wrong. A compulsive desire for emotional comfort can defeat your desire to make the changes you want if you allow it to
Misperception of Risk
Most of us realize that change involves risk. The status quo involves risk, too, although that risk is much less noticeable. The current status quo once represented a change from whatever came before it. However, we naturally perceive the risks associated with a change to be greater than those of the status quo. Risk is a subjective perception, which cannot be quantified. Figure 1.1 illustrates how most people’s perception of risk is distorted. It is different depending on whether we are contemplating a change to a new situation or contemplating the status.
Misperceptions of Risk
When we contemplate any new situation, we tend to magnify the risk. This isn’t logical. Our biggest fear is of the unknown, even in cases where there is no danger. In situations that we have been accustomed to, our minds tend to minimize the risks. In other words, we perceive risk by looking through the large end of the telescope. It’s not necessarily bad that our minds do this. However, if you are not aware that your mind is doing this, any change is going to seem to be so risky that you will never attempt it. But risks must be taken. Playing it safe may be the riskiest strategy of all. People who risk nothing may avoid pain and disappointment temporarily, but they don’t learn, feel, change, grow, love—live. Chained by their fear, they are slaves, having forfeited freedom. It’s quite possible that any change—getting married or divorced, moving to another city, or changing careers—will appear to be riskier than maintaining the status quo. In terms of job security, having a job may appear less risky than having your own business, but this perception may be distorted by the risk telescope shown in Figure 1.1. One common perception is that having a job in the private sector is riskier than a career in the military.
Use Technology to Speed Up and to Multiply Your Work
If you are still a technophobe, get over it. Technophobia is expensive, and today’s computers are friendly enough that anyone can learn. Today computer literacy is taken for granted. Surveys show that people with a home-based business who do not use a personal computer make an average income of $40,000, while those who use personal computers make an average income of $69,100 per year. Even if these surveys are wrong, you can purchase a personal computer today and learn how to use it for a lot less than the $29,000 difference between these averages.
Do Work You Love
Nothing can compare to performing work you love. Most of us spend 40 or more of our approximately 100 waking hours every week providing an income for ourselves and our families. Other than the possible exception of good health, doing work you love will do more to increase your enjoyment and satisfaction in life than finding the ideal mate, winning the lottery, or owning your dream house. Work you don’t like can never provide the satisfaction that makes life enjoyable and worthwhile. Work you don’t like may provide an abundant income, but it never seems to be enough, because the income represents such a meager return on the struggle and self-denial you invest to create it. Work you don’t enjoy fails to provide the sense of satisfaction that comes from the joyous accomplishment derived from favorite hobbies. Without this, no amount of pay is ever enough. Life is mostly a process and a little bit of outcome.
Determining the income you want requires independent thinking because you cannot judge from appearances. Some folks use their wealth (or high credit rating) to impress others. They struggle to make the mortgage payment on a half-million-dollar home and the lease payments on two luxury cars. Conversely, lots of millionaires live in ordinary houses and drive secondhand Chevys. The value system of conspicuous consumption comes up empty because there never seems to be enough. In some cases, people who realize there is never enough to be satisfied conclude “that there is no reason to try to get any more.” If this is your situation, you’ll achieve both higher income and more satisfaction by choosing work you love that supports your purpose beyond gaining the approval of others.