How do you know when it is time to make a change?
There is a theory that says people generally do not change until the pain of the status quo is greater than the pain of change.
“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”
- Tony Robins
That is why we hear people say things like: 'getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to me'. They likely hated their job, were to afraid to leave a stable paycheque, but since the decision was made for them they were then free to move in a direction of their choosing. We change. What made us happy and brought us satisfaction at 20, becomes different at 30, or 50.
So how do you know when it is the right time to make a move if you are unhappy about an aspect of your life? Do you have to wait for someone else to make the decision for you? Do you have to wait until you just can't take it anymore and you have a breakdown? When to initiate change is something I have struggled with over the years...
Change can be exciting, but it is almost always stressful and can return unintended outcomes. That doesn't mean we should avoid initiating change, and insulate ourselves from it as much as possible. Change happens whether we want it to or not. Might as well have an active role. We all need to develop qualities that come as a result of dealing with change - resourcefulness, resiliency, adaptability. In an unstable world, those qualities are valuable.
Here is my conclusion. If something in your life is operating at 80% satisfaction, leave it alone. Be grateful that it is working well and returning value to your life whether that be a vehicle, a relationship, a job, etc. Sure, look for simple hacks and tweaks that are easy to implement so you can optimize this good thing a bit more. But otherwise, be content. Once lost, this thing that is not perfect but quite good at what it is supposed to provide, can be very difficult to replace. Trying to replace an excellent job, a reliable vehicle, a meaningful relationship can take years, if ever, and can cost a lot in the long run.
On the flipside, if something is not returning 80% value to your life, what is the risk in trying something different? The new thing may not be perfect either, but life is too short to be stuck in low-return investments when it comes to happiness. Living an intentional life where you are accountable for your decisions is empowering. There are ways to cap the downside and mitigate risk when preparing to make a change. Change need not be reckless. You will get some pushback, possibly from yourself, and likely from those around you. Change is threatening, even when it's the people around you changing.
Just a little question I ask myself when evaluating a change...'is this part of my life running below, or above, 80% satisfaction?' It can be applied to your clients, your workers, quitting your job, starting a business, closing a business, moving to another city, friendships, vehicles, etc.
Seeking perfection is a sure way to misery. While living to avoid change is an illusion that will be shattered sooner or later. Change is a fact. Let's be intentional about it and find contentment where we can.