The status quo is reassuring. Staying as we do gives us a framework that we know well. We know how to do it. There is no risk. However, this mode of operation has its limits.
I deeply believe that we are here to move the world forward. To progress. If it is easy to do the same things over and over again, that is not what will allow us to go further and innovate. Whether in our work or in our personal life for that matter.
Why it’s important to challenge the status quo
In an ever-changing environment, staying the way we are or continuing to do “as you have always done” brings us face to face with competition that will have managed to move forward.
Learning and evolving continuously becomes an essential step in creating more value and standing out.
Even for oneself: staying in an autopilot mode ends up making us feel bad. Because we miss opportunities that allow us to enjoy our lives.
Kicking our old ways of doing things will really help us feel more fulfilled and allow us to live more fulfilled lives.
It is by challenging the status quo, by challenging ourselves and stepping out of our comfort zone and current knowledge, that we get things done: for ourselves and for others. And it feels so good, once this process has started, that you don’t want to go back.
Understanding the two modes of the brain to take action
If you’re anxious about taking action, know that’s normal. Our brain has a “default” mode that is designed to keep us safe. It is a reactive mode, which does not “think”.
It wants :
- make us avoid having pain (physically or mentally),
- make us conserve our energy (change consumes it),
- make us seek pleasure (particularly short-term rewards).
Getting out of our habits therefore makes us enter one or more of these states, and prevents us from leaving them.
Fortunately, we have another mode, another part of our brain that allows us to step back and think more calmly. It is this mode that we want to use, when we want to deliberately change.
The best way to do this is to observe our behavior and identify this process. Don’t blame yourself for that: it’s perfectly normal. Just tell yourself that your brain is trying to protect you, but there is actually no danger.
Take a few deep breaths, name the negative feelings running through you.
Then consider your goal: does this default mode help you achieve it? Connect to this goal and seek to feel the positive feeling that its achievement gives you: is it accomplishment, joy, satisfaction, etc.
Identify the thoughts that limit our action
You may also have limiting thoughts. The sentence “I’ve always done it like that” is a good example. It gives you an excuse not to move at all. However, as we have seen, the idea is to improve, in order to feel better or to create more value.
These thoughts often seem innocuous and come, most of the time, from beliefs built up over the course of our lives: via the way we are brought up, educated in the classroom, our culture.
It must be said that these are not absolute truths, even if they really look like it. There is nothing worse than immobility. Including the one of our thoughts!
Neuroscience studies have proven that our brain has the ability to build new connections and therefore new thoughts, all the time.
It’s both frightening – because yes, it is possible to believe anything and everything, and both a great opportunity to be able to look at things differently. It is by understanding this mechanism and deciding to make our thinking flexible that we begin to evolve.
By placing ourselves again as an observer of our thoughts, we can confront them with the reality of our progress: will the thought “we have always done it this way” will help us meet our objective, or this new challenge that this client exposed to me and which stucks me in advance?
Be curious and incredulous about your thoughts.
Understanding that the status quo does not serve your life or in your business is crucial to helping you move towards your goals. Taking the necessary step back by identifying your blockers and understanding these mechanisms will help you to have a different perspective on your ability to change.
Be patient and kind to yourself. Accepting change is a step that takes time, but once you get there, you won’t want to go back.