This post covers the first of several non-Method methods.
People often try to improve their lives by changing or getting rid of something in their environment. By environment I don’t mean trees and lakes and streams, but anything that affects your emotional system, as described in my posts on the environment as part of the Model.
Typically that thing is their house, car, job, or significant other, but could be anything — a new diet book, a new labor-saving device, a new degree, stopping seeing a friend, etc. This strategy comes from believing that something external is holding them back from a better life. Or at least that changing something external will improve it.
I call the strategy “I need a new house/car/job/boyfriend/girlfriend/etc”
Sometimes changing only your environment does improve your life. Even if insufficient, it may lead to other changes that cumulatively significantly improve your life. Still, this strategy has at least a couple significant shortcomings.
First, changing these things can cost significant resources. Resources could be time, energy, attention, money, goodwill, relationships, and so on.
For example, changing your job can require a lot of these resources — in looking, preparing, interviewing, maintaining relationships at the old job, and so on. And changing other things, like a relationship with a significant other, can cost more.
When faced with these costs people tend to delay acting. How many people do you know who don’t like their jobs or want to leave their boyfriend or girlfriend yet haven’t changed them for months or years? More poignantly, have you ever stayed with something longer than you wanted because of the costs to switch? Of course we all have. How long were your delays?
Second, sometimes the change doesn’t improve your life even after ponying up the costs. You find the new job no better than the old one. Or you find single life or a new relationship no better than the relationship you left.
After finding a big change ineffective, people tend either to change that thing again but on a bigger scale or give up on changing. Having changed a job, now they move to a new city. Or having changed cities they decide they’ll live with that misery even though others have found ways out of it. Changing bigger often disrupts their lives yet more. Giving up leads them to resignation and futility.
Do you have any things in your life you’ve just given up on changing? Are any of them things that you thought would solve big problems but didn’t?
In summary, sometimes the problem and solution are purely external. Or sufficiently external that the change improves your life. If other parts of your life also hold you back, then changing only your environment will disrupt your life without improving it, costing resources and teaching futility.
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book