We usually need several things to come together before we actually make a change.
1. See that the change is possible
We learn what’s possible through exposure (seeing a thing happen or be done), experience (doing things ourselves that suggest similar things might be possible) and education (being taught, or self-teaching, about what has and can and could happen).
2. Believe it’s possible for us
It’s not enough to understand that other people can do something. We have to believe that the thing is actually possible for us. Success doesn’t have to be certain – but it does need to be possible.
3. Believe it’s desirable
Once we know something is possible in general, and possible specifically for us, the question becomes, “Do I want this?” We usually want things because we see they’re necessary, or because they bring us pleasure or help us avoid pain (which some say are the same thing – and can exist on so many different axes) in the short or long term.
4. Believe it’s worth what it costs
Everything (including doing nothing) has a price. The things we want might cost us money, time, effort, dignity, fun… we need to feel (rightly or wrongly) that the value we get from a change is equal to (or greater than) the price we’ll pay. I say “feel” because while “knowing” something is worth it is helpful, we’re a lot more likely to do it if we feel it too.
I confess that I’d quite enjoy owning a sports car (a sports car is desirable to me). I see other people have them. I see that – if I changed career or sold my house – it’s eminently possible for me to buy one. But I don’t think the enjoyment I’d get from owning one would be worth the cost financially, or probably to the environment, and possibly to my relationships. So, for now, I won’t be buying one or even working towards buying one.
In situations where there’s a risk of failure, I need to believe that the reward of success is worth more than the cost I risk having to pay (bankrupcy, injury, ridicule) if I fail.
5. Be able to see the next step
Being able to see the way helps a lot – the clearer the journey is, the easier it is both to take action, and to weigh up risk and reward.
6. Have a trigger
There are loads of things that we want that we do nothing about. Most of the time, we need a trigger to take action. More on triggers tomorrow.