Driving change through personal disruption

Driving change through personal disruption 29

The word disruption is oft associated with ominous signs of impending interference, disorder or even doom! It conjures imaginings of a dark tunnel with the boogie man on the other end, waiting to pounce any minute. It is human to resist change. In an organisational context for example, there is almost always fear, and by extension, resistance to any changes that the management intends to institute. First there are jitters about job security, and justifiably so. Then there are jitters about what the new normal will be à la “but we’ve always done things like this”. This fear is heightened particularly when there is new management.

Personal disruption is an even scarier monster. This relates to self. It could be anything from quitting a habit or an addiction, it could be starting a new regime, switching career, moving to a new town, city or country. It doesn’t help that apart from the voices of self-doubt playing broken records in our minds, there are also those close to us who (while trying to be “helpful”) pour cold water on our ideas or our efforts.

Cognitively we know that all growth happens out of the comfort zone. And that the only way to get out of this comfort zone is to disrupt oneself. Emotionally, however, the mere thought of stepping out is sufficient for us to take to the bed for a week because of fear. Yet that is the stuff that growth is made of. There can be no growth without change. Emotionally, it’s a different story all together. It also doesn’t help that most self-help books that we read tell us to imagine the life that we want to live then go after it, hammer and tongs. However, it’s not as straight-forward as this. The first step to stepping out of your comfort zone is to question deeply held beliefs that you have hitherto regarded as gospel truth.

It becomes difficult to see life through any other lens. If change scares you a lot, start with small goals, like waking up 15 minutes earlier or exercising for 5 minutes a day. It will gradually build your confidence. To paraphrase Francis of Assisi, start with what is necessary, then do what it possible, soon you shall be doing the impossible.

The second step to disrupting yourself is to be committed change. That’s why starting small is so important. Commit to one small change at a time. Trying to do change in many areas of your life will simply overwhelm you and set you up for self-sabotage.

Self-sabotage happens when we subconsciously create problems and crisis that keep us in our familiar zones. That is why is it not usual for people who win the lottery to find themselves worse off than they were after they squander the money. Self-sabotage is an avoidance technique aimed at keeping you stuck.

Finally, be patient with yourself. Change takes time, patience and effort. Moving too fast towards what you want to achieve is a recipe for a breakdown, so is wanting instant results or seeking instant gratification. Approach change as you would a marathon; pace yourself and preserve your energy for the long haul.

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