What’s Your Excuse?

She was anxious.  I could read it on her face.

She had glanced at my address as I finished placing an order for a new pair of eyeglasses, and asked if I liked living downtown.  “I love it,” I said, gesturing out the shop window at the people ice skating in the park across the street and the coffee shops, restaurants, museum, and hotels within the perimeter of my gaze.   “An apartment is so much easier to take care of than a house,” I added.   She nodded and told me she was also thinking of downsizing and moving nearby.    Her children were grown, she explained, and she was tired of the expense and upkeep of a house.  Besides, there was so much more to do downtown than in the suburbs.  Her kids were encouraging her to do it, but she still hadn’t made the move.

She bit her lip.  “I’d miss my garden,” she said, wistfully.  “I love to garden.  Don’t you miss it?”   I told her did, but visited parks and other outdoor spaces to fulfill my need for green.   She continued to quiz me, and list other reasons why she shouldn’t make the move–the effort, the time, the expense, the housing market.  In the end, she thanked me for my opinion and said she’d keep it in mind.  I had the distinct impression that she was stuck in the data gathering phase, weighing the pros and cons and opinions of people, but wouldn’t ultimately take action and make the move.

When facing change, many people “get stuck.” Why?  Putting on my therapist’s hat, I’d diagnose her failure to change for several reasons:  1.  She is afraid ;  2.  She doesn’t want to make a mistake;  3.  It takes time and energy to move;  4.  She’s wondering whether the financial and physical “cost” of moving will outweigh the benefits;  5. She is not sure what the change will “give” her;  6.  She knows the change necessitates giving up something(s) that is/are valued.

I’ve been there.  Sometimes I can think of a million reasons why I should stay “stuck.”  It’s uncomfortable place, but its familiarity is oddly comforting.

Now, it’s your turn.  Think about a change you are contemplating.  It may or may not be voluntary.   It could be personal or related to your career.   If you are “stuck” between action and inaction, you are not alone.   Do any of these excuses sound familiar?  They were compiled by Morgan W. Mc Call, Jr. who collected managers’ and executives’ responses to the question, “Why haven’t you changed something you believe you should have?”   Do any of them resonate with you?

  • You don’t accept the need to change
  • You don’t want to admit mistakes or flaws.
  • You aren’t motivated to change.
  • You are weighing the costs in time and energy.
  • The benefit is unclear.
  • You are not personally committed to the change.
  • You don’t see the real importance of change.
  • You don’t know how to change.
  • The change requires that you give up something of value.
  • You are not sure what the change will “give” you.
  • You are comfortable the way you are.
  • You are afraid of looking stupid or feeling incompetent.
  • You feel intimidated by others who have made the change already.
  • You are too busy to change.
  • People around you don’t support the change.
  • You are afraid to make mistakes.
  • You are afraid of failure.
  • You need to be liked.

In part 2 of this post, we’ll explore ways to overcome resistance to change.

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1 reply »

  1. Wow, an intnrestieg article! I recognized the name of one of the authors, and recalled that it was the same guy that Malcolm Gladwell profiled in his book Blink. Luckily, that bit happens to be excerpted on the internet (several pages long). It’s a good read.

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