It’s Human Nature to Actively Resist Change

What major changes have you experienced in the last week, month, or year?  Maybe it was a relocation, job change, multiple birth, change in working hours, a death or change in marital status, the list could go on and on. The uncertainty, discomfort and sometimes fear you feel is normal since it’s human nature to actively resist change.  

In his book, Restructuring Our Schools, Dr. W. Patrick Dolan, (my greatest mentor) an expert in organizational change says “…the system-in-place will actively resist change. The system works hard at maintaining its equilibrium or it’s “Steady State.”  It will resist change in fundamental and powerful ways.”  This statement is true for systems, organizations, as well as individuals.  Thus, any change we make within ourselves will be challenging.  Our habits or steady state will work hard to resist change.

Since it is human nature to seek comfort, continuity and resist change, we become complacent with our habits.  The familiarity of routine life provides a safe haven. Think about your family and its customs.  Do you have certain traditions?  These routines can give you and your family solace. 

Some of these customs might include: 

  • Thanksgiving meal and family time
  • Special food cooked for different holidays and celebrations
  • Dinner with personal electronics
  • Friday night pizza and game night
  • Evening TV time
  • Weekends camping in the woods
  • Saturday morning chores

What would you or your family do if you changed some of these?

If your lifestyle warrants a change, here are some ideas on how to implement change:

  • Revisit your belief system and why you are making these changes, dig deep to articulate your reasons
  • Clearly define the nature of the change and align it to your why
  • Make Incremental changes, focus on and change one thing at a time
  • Make small changes, it is a process vs a destination
  • Implement a support structure to help you through the discomfort

Shifting behaviors can take time, practice and patience with ourselves.  Lasting change happens slowly over time. Remember, it’s human nature to actively resist change.  We are not machines; we need time to retool and readjust.

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