You have heard, “Change is hard,” before. There may even be a personal experience that you have where these words were true. Here are my thoughts on those three words.

Learning to Drive

Lets imagine you are going to learn to drive a manual transmission car. Before now, you drove an automatic. The car lurches, stalls, and grinds as you learn. You slide down hills as your feet and hands learn to coordinate quicker than before. It is stressful and frustrating.

Even that first time, where the only goal is to get the car to move an inch. The foot comes off the clutch slowly as the foot on the accelerator presses down. It takes practice to get moving without stalling or lurching or grinding.

Lets imagine you are going to drive an automatic transmission car. Before now, you drove a manual. The clutch foot tries to press a pedal that doesn’t exist. Your hand goes to a shifting knob that vanished. Brief panic as your foot goes to the floor unhindered. Muscle memory has betrayed you.

What’s Going On

The brain is a fancy piece of meat. It has a predisposition to do things the same way every time. As you learn or do something over and over, a pathway is developing in your brain. As the pathway gets more developed, things become more effortless.

Forging that first pathway though, is hard. You’ll spend a lot of focus on what you are learning and doing to things right. You’ll fail along the way. You will get tired, and probably even have headaches.

Building those pathways is hard work. The good news is that after you build and reinforce the pathways, you have a new normal.

So What

Think of a change you wanted to make, and did so with success. That experience only has some things in common with the struggle I laid out above. The reason is that you had motivation to carry you through the struggle. Also, there may have been some positive reinforcement to help.

Think of a change you did not want to make. I bet the struggle that I identified is there. Also one more piece: rejection. Trying to change when you have little to no motivation, or little to no reinforcement sucks. So what can we do about it?

For me I have to remember this struggle by staying in it. I have to find motivation for myself and others, and I have to find ways to reinforce the change.

Without motivation, reinforcement, and participation expect to see frustration, headaches, and rejection.