Change often triggers fear due to its unpredictability, yet there’s an irony in resisting change—it can be riskier than embracing it.
In both your career and relationships, stagnation can lead to falling behind. Growth is the key to staying relevant and growing in your business. On one hand, our brains naturally recoil from the unknown because we want to be able to predict the outcome—even a negative one—more than we like uncertainty. On the other, our minds hold incredible elasticity. Through training, they can not only navigate change but thrive within it.
The stories we tell ourselves, both real and imagined, form the basis of our fear of change. We often view our lives as scripts written by external forces, neglecting our own agency in the story of our own lives. Many call it Fate or claim “that’s just the way it is” and absolve themselves of their responsibility to change what they don’t like.
Remember, your life is not a story written by some unknown force; it’s a story you have the power to craft, even if many outcomes are out of your control or unpredictable. If you seek a different trajectory for your life, it begins with a shift in mindset, so let’s dive in.
- A Lesson in Letting Go: Moving on from a job, a relationship, or even a season can be a challenging undertaking. We tend to dwell on the past and what mistakes we made. We are even hesitant to embrace what lies ahead, particularly if the road ahead is foggy. Research at the intersection of Buddhism and Western Psychology illuminates the value of accepting impermanence. Acknowledging that our lives aren’t static, but dynamic, and change is a natural part of every life story allows us to let go of what’s past and look ahead to what’s to come.
- Evolving Beyond the Fear of Failure: Striving for perfectionism is a paradox that will always hinder your progress. Have you ever noticed that the more pressure you put on yourself often leads to more (and worse) mistakes? To become the architect of your own life, it’s vital to redefine your relationship with uncertainty, impermanence, and perfectionism. We aren’t perfect. We WILL make mistakes. We will learn, and grow from those mistakes, and the cycle will continue until we are no longer afraid of failing.
Related reading: Owning Your Fears so They Don’t Own You
Practical Steps Toward Embracing Change
Each person has their own life story, and that is why I want to use a book analogy to explain how we can embrace a “change” mindset:
- One chapter does not define the whole book – Initiating a new chapter necessitates concluding the current one. At times, we resist bidding farewell to a particular phase, mistakenly conflating a chapter with the entire book. Remember, your life story is composed of countless chapters. Make space for new beginnings by moving on from past narratives.
- Your story is filled with choices – Remember the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books? You could make choices at various points in the story which affected the outcome of the book. Just like those, your life is also filled with choices. Set aside expectations and focus on what you can influence. You are not a passive observer, but the creator of your life story.
- Have the courage to be imperfect – As any writer will tell you, starting the first paragraph of a book is often the most daunting task. It requires the courage to step into the whirlwind of uncertainty about where this story is going. As writer, John Dufresne, said, “The purpose of a first draft is not to get it right, but to get it written.”
- The characters have a life of their own – Much like characters in a book who often take on a life of their own (or so any writer will tell you), people have their own autonomy. As a real estate agent, you can guide and coach, but you can’t dictate. Your clients have the freedom to bring their unique skills and beliefs to the table and make choices for themselves.
- Be prepared for unexpected twists – Even the most accomplished authors encounter moments of stagnation, or their characters run away with the story and bring it in an unexpected direction (which can be better than what the author had planned). This principle applies to your journey as well. Experiment, alter routines, go with the flow, and step out of your comfort zone. Embrace the unexpected, for it often leads to something new, and better than what you might have expected.
- Failure is a plot hole, not the final conclusion – Not every chapter will be a resounding success, or as interesting as another chapter, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t needed. When a writer discovers a plot hole in their story, they don’t throw out the book; they rework the plot to fix the mistake. It’s the same thing for you – when you discover a mistake, you go back, fix it, and keep moving your story forward.
Related reading: PsychMechanics – Fear of Change (9 Causes & Ways to Overcome)
You might spend a lot of time trying to protect yourself against uncertainty, so much so that you forget the richness of the present moment. Life’s true treasures are often found in the unscripted, unforeseen moments. As real estate agents, you already know how unpredictable the housing market and the industry can be, but learning to embrace change is how we succeed. Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Learning to adapt is how we survive any change that life throws at us!
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