Our world is continuously changing.
Think of the ebb and flow of oceans, the changing of the seasons, and similarly our emotions can change for a variety of reasons. Some changes are easy on the eye, like sunrises and sunsets, but many changes go unseen. Some changes come in cycles, so we can anticipate, some changes seem trifle, complex to demonstrate, some changes are viral, impossible to simulate. There is still a plethora of processes we do not fully understand; we only get a notion of all of the world’s motions.
What is the right mindset for achieving personal change?
Many people fall for the same kind of excuses for not achieving their goals. The excuses will prevent you from committing to your personal development. This episode will explain how to focus on your circle of influence and get rid of the externalization.
E03: Change Mindset • How to Increase Your Circle of Influence
We cannot control changes in our environment, but we can choose our behavior towards change. In this article you’ll read which changes are within your reach, why allowing for change is better than attempting to your environment and why a change mindset brings you further in the game of life.
Unchangeable Rules of The Game
Some aspects of our world are unchangeable. We cannot let the sun rise in the West, we cannot bend the laws of gravity, we cannot change the past. We did not choose to be born as humans, nor did we choose our parents, where we were born an the era we were born in. At birth we are given a body and mind; a blend of your parents’ genetics, sprinkled with some apparent randomness and just like that the foundation of your character is established.
These facts are the rules of the game and determine our starting point. They put a limit to our options. No matter how fast we run, we will never become cheetahs.
But as humans, we have proven to be an inventive species in overcoming our limitations. Our continuous quest for advancement is exemplified by innovations. We cannot control the sun, but we discovered how to make fire, gas lamps and light bulbs. We will never fly, but we have built machines that let us fly. Not just across the borders of nations, but to the moon, the International Space Station and beyond. We will not be bound to earth, innovations will take us to other planets in the universe. Change is at the heart of human evolution.
External vs. Internal Change
You can distinguish between two types of changes: external and internal change. External change is everything that happens around you, everything that’s not under your control. Think of the people around you, all other forms of life, the capitalist system, planet earth. Internal change is within your control. It is everything that you can achieve with your mind and body. Life is a single player game, so it is all about internal change. You can only change yourself. No matter how skilled you become at moving your joystick, you won’t control the movements of other players. That’s a comforting thought, because it also means that no one else controls you. But that doesn’t mean that external changes do not impact you.
External changes are the mechanics of the game, internal change determines the way you play it.
Internal and external changes flow, collide and create waves. External change may follow after making internal changes. Start handing out compliments and people may start to like you. Stop smoking and your car stops smelling like a driving ashtray. Vice versa, internal changes may follow after external changes. Stress may occur after your boss gives you a deadline. Reading a biography of a successful entrepreneur may inspire you to start a business. Seeing your house on fire can cause some emotions.
It is up to us to ride the waves of positive external changes and reduce the impact of negative external changes on our life. This starts with recognition and ends with acceptance. Trying to resist unwanted changes is like swimming upstream, while we should go with the flow, save and rebuild our energy and strike back when the current weakens. Recognize what impact a life event had on you and accept the emotions that came with it.
In the meantime you can decide how you can change yourself to become less affected by the currents. You can start building perseverance, confidence and resilience. You make sure that your body and mind are ready when the next storm hits. These internal changes will be the boat that carries you through the hard times. And when you see other people struggling, almost drowning in pain and suffering, you can take them aboard and lead them to shore.
Internal Change Takes Courage
Rationally, it should be easier to change yourself than to change anyone else. You have more control over your actions than someone else’s. But changing yourself is much scarier than attempting to change others.
If you choose a new path, it is YOU who has to adapt to a new environment and face the uncertainty.
If you encounter setbacks, it is YOU who has to find workarounds.
If you fail to change, it is YOU who is left feeling disappointed.
That’s why it is so easy to give advice to other people, because we are not actually putting anything on the line. It’s like going to the casino with cash you found on the streets. You can just trust your gut feeling, head to the roulette table and put all the money you found on number 7. Once the wheel starts spinning, there is no turning back, with the ball going round after round. The ball loses momentum and drops into pocket number 21. ‘Bummer’, you shrug and go on with your day. Your hunch was wrong, but you were in a position without risk and basically lost nothing. Now imagine if you had to put your entire life savings on the line. Or that each pocket meant a different career choice, business idea, partner, or country you must move to. Your entire approach would change; you would study probabilities, different strategies or maybe not even go to the casino at all.
It is so easy to be wrong—and to persist in being wrong—when the costs of being wrong are paid by others.— Thomas Sowell (@ThomasSowell) May 20, 2020
A lot of people say they want change, but very little actually embrace radical internal change. Instead they make small deviations in their decisions or manipulate tiny aspects of their environment. ‘I went to this new Italian restaurant’, ‘I took a different route to work today’, ‘I put new handles on my kitchen cabinets’. Internal change is way more risky, requires more effort and might alienate people around you. As soon as there are some people who start to dislike you, you are on the right track. Not all people want you to achieve internal change. They would rather see you stay the same for the rest of your life, because it gives them an alibi for not changing themselves.
Everyone can change. But change takes courage.
A World Without Change
If you choose not to change, life is easy. You have a wide selection of previous experiences that help you make decisions. You know your environment, you know how to act, you know what to expect on a day-to-day basis. Life is familiar and you feel secure. There will always be some little uncertainties, but you can make educated guesses about the future. That future is predictable, thus plannable.
But this only works in the short run. External changes will still happen around you, they will at some point overthrow you and take over control.
We attempt to control change by freezing our environment. We think that reducing changes will make us less stressed. But reducing change builds a resentment of change inside you. You may feel you succeeded at freezing your environment, but once a big change happens that you had no control over, your world falls apart. What if the house you spent decorating for the last 10 years burns down to the ground? What if you lose your perfect job because of a global pandemic? What if one of family members or close friends dies? Attempting to freeze your environment will make you reluctant to change, and when change is needed you will not be capable.
Not wanting to achieve change and attempting to regulate your environment is comparable to choosing to live in a zoo. You are walking around in a confined space, you will get to know all the visitors and animals. The paths are well-constructed and all stairs come with handrails. It is extremely easy to move around, you even got a map that indicates all dangerous animals. Unlike their wild and free siblings, they are usually dormant and only roar when you deliberately rattle their cage. Sometimes you even feel sorry for the caged animals – if they only could see a change in their habitat – unaware of the slightly bigger cage you’re in.
You can spend your entire life avoiding tigers and spend weeks in the butterfly garden, but you will always be within the boundaries of the zoo.
Change: An Adventure
Choosing to change on the other hand, is a leap out of your comfort zone. Change is the path of the adventurer. Instead of a zoo, you buy a one-way ticket to the jungle. Or desert. Or Antarctica. You’re not even sure of the destination. Nonetheless, you start your climb bursting with motivation. On your journey you come across waterfalls, starry nights, friendly strangers, dazzling views. Other adventurers left some trails, but you might end up in places where the footprints stop.
Every now and then you get off track. There might be snakes lurking in the dark, waiting for you to slip up. But you are strong and courageous, and know to get back on route. Not every path uphill has steps, but you have a compass to guide you and the right tools to support you. And even if you’d lose everything in life, you would still be able to pick yourself up and start over.
No Game Over, just a Try Again.
Life is change.
Our world is continuously changing. Change brought us where we are today. There are external changes happening in your environment, and internal changes inside of you. External changes may cause internal changes, and vice versa. Some changes are unchangeable, but we can change our behavior towards external changes and overcome limitations. We should manage to what extent external changes can affect us and initiate the internal changes we desire. If external changes are the mechanics of the game, then internal change determines the way you play the game.
Attempts to freeze your environment to control change yield no results and will ultimately fail. Life without change is like living in a zoo; you’re treading the paths of others, there is virtually no risk, but you will always remain within the boundaries of the zoo. After spending years captivated in the zoo, you will have lost your ability to survive in the real world.
Actively initiating change requires courage. The path of change is an adventure that can take you anywhere. You will have to take risks and others will scrutinize your decisions. It learns you how to cope with uncertainty and remain flexible. Knowing how initiate internal change and cope with external changes prepares you for the best and worst times.
Change is life.