Laurie's story is not unusual. Why is change so difficult? Why do we fear, rather than embrace, taking a risk? And can we find a way to forge new territories that seem to promise, but can't guarantee, a better life?
Let's take a look at why we hesitate to change, and so often spend more time thinking rather than doing anything about it.
Most of us lead lives filled with routine. We get up at a particular time, get ready for our day, and embark about the myriad of responsibilities we need to attend to. We don't give much thought to them; we just go through the motions getting things done, crossing them off our lists and then moving on to the next. When thoughts such as, "Is this all there is?" or "I'm bored, and want a change," creep in, we know it's time to look for new opportunities.
At this point, we spend a great deal of time dreaming of what we would like to be different. Whether it's losing weight, starting a new job, finding romance, or finally writing that book, we are too busy to stop and figure out how to get there. We're dreaming--not planning--and we know that all change requires work, the thought of which is simply exhausting.
If that's not enough, we worry. What if we go through all the work to make a change, and it doesn't work out? Or even worse, what if it's not what we want after all? Edwin Locke, one of the foremost researchers in goal-setting, states that the No. 1 thing that stands in the way of goal attainment is fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of the unknown, fear of making the wrong decision, looking foolish, being embarrassed and so on.
Combine that fear of risk with a lack of energy to work toward our goals, and a lack of confidence in our abilities, and it's no wonder we stay locked in our old habits and routines despite our unhappiness.
So, why bother striving for new opportunities, or working to change a current situation that's not optimal? What do we really have to gain?
Carolyn Adams-Miller, author of Creating Your Best Life List, says that when we engage in a well-planned risk, even if it's scary, we immediately gain confidence, progress toward goal accomplishment and an increase in our life satisfaction. Even when the risk doesn't turn out exactly as hoped, we still benefit. We learn that we can handle whatever curveballs life throws at us, and increase our resiliency (the ability to bounce back after disappointment). Together, these experiences increase our inner strength and lead us to be more willing to try new and different experiences in the future. And isn't that what makes life exciting?