Why is it so hard to beat the status quo? These 5 reasons will tell you why and give you a path forward…
We, perfectly imperfect humans, LOVE the status quo. The status quo is a comfortable, non-threatening place to be.
There’s a lot to be said for having a level of knowledge regarding what’s going to happen next in our lives. We have a better understanding of what we can expect. There are no surprises (good or bad), and nothing ever changes.
That’s the problem. Nothing ever changes.
When you’re stuck in the status quo, you’re never going to get ahead. It’s impossible to improve yourself when you’re committed to keeping everything the same.
Why do this to yourself?
Let’s look at 5 reasons why we’re reluctant (read: afraid) to challenge the status quo.
Reason 1: You Have to Accept Responsibility
The first step to shaking up the status quo is to scrutinize your life.
Meaning, you must take responsibility for being where you are. Not everyone likes scrutinizing themselves, even on a surface level. Taking that personal scrutiny to a deeper level involves a whole ‘nother level of discomfort.
Change requires being honest about who you are and your purpose in life. Are you ready for this kind of self-examination? If your answer is yes, then keep reading; if your answer is no, take a few minutes and think about why the idea of examining yourself closely makes you uncomfortable.
Journal Prompt: Why does the idea of self-examination make me uncomfortable? What am I afraid I’ll find / see / have to confront? What would make it easier / make me less afraid?
Reason 2: The Unknown is Scary
There’s absolute comfort in knowing what’s going to happen in your life next. People spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars and beyond trying to ascertain the future. They try reading specific books to help them forecast what’s coming, take classes, or listen to industry experts.
Some people even take the step of exploring the metaphysical or occult world in the hopes that they’ll be able to gain extra insight. A Google search for “how to predict the future” will bring you over 604 MILLION results – including articles from Forbes, MIT, and Harvard Business Review.
Even if you’re not the most comfortable with where you are, you at least know what’s socially acceptable, and you’ve got a good idea of what the likely outcome will be.
But when you step outside the lines you’ve so carefully drawn around yourself, there comes a moment (or moments) of uncertainty:
- You don’t know what’s going to happen, and can you handle that unknown outcome?
- You don’t know if that unknown outcome is going to be better than where you are now – what if your worst fears come true?
Talk about being terrified!
Journal prompt: What’s the latest experience, thought, or desire that has created feelings of uncertainty for you? Is there a way for you to gain the information you need to lessen the fear of the “unknown” and ensure the outcome is what you want?
Reason 3: You Don’t Know How to Start Making the Changes Happen
Once you start noticing where changes need to happen, this adds another level of difficulty. It can be hard to leave what’s comfortable and “known” in your life.
There might be multiple steps required to reach your new destination, and are you even sure that’s what you want? Is this new destination really where you want to go?
Once you’ve chosen that new destination, in order to get to where you need to go, you need to pick a direction.
You might not know exactly what to do first. Getting yourself organized requires hard work, clear intentions, and a pretty solid focus.
Finding the right direction for this next phase of your life doesn’t have to be HARD, but it does require some clarity.
- Stop Overthinking the situation: A lot of our stress and anxiety about what’s coming next in our lives, that ephemeral, unknown future, comes from all the thinking we do. Here’s a truth we MUST accept: No matter how smart or experienced we are, we cannot reliably predict the future with 100% accuracy.
- Avoid analysis paralysis – Get Into Motion: Want to feel better almost immediately? Take action and start taking positive steps toward your goals. We can’t control the future (see above) but what we CAN do is control the actions we take every single day. Take one more step toward the life you want to live, the future you want to build. Baby Steps Forward are Still Steps Forward!
- Tap into and follow your Inner Voice: Don’t fall into the status quo evaluation that if you only knew more, you’d be able to make smarter, better decisions. Take a chance – let go and follow your gut. You’ll probably stumble a few times, but so what? Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again.
- Increase your Self-Belief: Take advantage of the plethora of encouragement that’s available to you. Family may or may not be a reliable source of that encouragement. Friends might be better, but what if you made it a practice to encourage yourself? A few minutes of searching on the Internet or in a library will uncover a treasure trove of positive voices that will help you keep at it. Turn down the volume on negativity and instead, review your successes, remind yourself of what you’ve accomplished, and believe in your vision.
Journal prompt: What small, positive step can you take TODAY to move you toward what you desire / want for your future? Do one thing in the next 24 hours to get you started, then take another and another…momentum will help keep you moving forward, but you must start.
Reason 4: You Might Not Have What You Need, or Know Where to Find It
How in the world are you supposed to organize all the information you need, honest impressions, and your plans?
What if you don’t have (or don’t believe you have) all the skills for what you need to do? Here’s an idea: separate those skills into “Must Have” and “Nice to Have.” Which ones are really show-stoppers? How are you going to get those skills?
Stepping outside your status quo might mean you need to learn something new. Accepting the need for new knowledge shouldn’t make you feel bad – none of us, no matter how accomplished, knows everything about everything.
Be willing to put in time and effort to help you take the next step toward your dreams and goals. Even if you need more time – take it! If you need more information – find it and bring it in!
Commit to your plan and the steps you’ll need to get the resources required. Don’t give up – if you are living and breathing, it’s NOT TOO LATE.
Journal prompt: What makes the items on my “Must Have” list important to me? How much time and/or additional resources will I commit over the next 30 days to acquiring these items?
Reason 5: You Might Not FEEL Ready
Put all of the reasons together, and we arrive at this last point. You might not feel like you’re able to take on this challenge at this moment in time. What happens next? You put off making the change by procrastinating.
There’ll be any number of “good” reasons…
You might not even want to try…
All of this means you might be good at staying where you are. When you do need to shake up the status quo and step outside the lines, it takes a lot of courage. It also takes a willingness to work hard, a lot of dedication, and an open mind. Once you get started, though, momentum will carry you where you need to go. Remember, the payoff will make it all worthwhile.
Journal Prompt: How can I change the way I’m feeling about taking on a challenge? Can a motivational song or movie help change my outlook for the better? Try making a list of your past accomplishments to remind you that you ARE capable of success and leverage those good memories to move you forward now.