There is comfort in predictability. This is one of the reasons we develop routines and habits. In fact, the more comforting our routine, the more painful it is to change it. To put it simply, deep down inside we often times would prefer the comfort of a bad habit to the uncertainty of a potentially positive change (that’s why it is so difficult to change habits – even bad habits). Despite the negative aspects of our routines, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. This principle of resisting change contributes to the fact that the only reason we give in to change is when our status quo becomes too uncomfortable. Sometimes the motivating discomfort comes from within you (feeling bad about the status quo) and sometimes it comes from the environment (new jobs require learning new skills).
A recent example of external motivation for change comes from the New Massachusetts Rules of Conduct which became effective as of July 1st, 2015. For a review of the new rules, check out a few of LOMAP’s blogs here and here. Whenever new rules come out, by definition we are required to change in some way. Of note in the new rules of conduct is the terminology on maintaining competence in technology. Technology is one of those areas in life that is constantly changing, and as a result most people feel as though they are behind the times. Because, quite frankly, we are. There is no way to stay current on all the changes in technology. There are just too many advances to keep up with.
So if you think you need to stay current on every technological change that occurs, you will quickly feel overwhelmed (the idea of changing will feel quite uncomfortable) and by default you will resist change in order to continue your familiar routine. Trying to stay up to date on everything is not possible. At the same time, the idea that you cannot change is not supported by history. Taking a page from your childhood, there is a reason why we grow slowly physically when we are young. Growing pains are uncomfortable and taking it slowly is the best way to adjust. After all, if toddlers can survive change, adults can manage it too. So if you are feeling a tinge of discomfort when thinking about keeping current on technology (especially when it comes to your law practice), resist the temptation to stick to your old ways. If we all did that, we’d still be using a typewriter and whiteout.
So here are some tips on embracing change when you feel resistant to changing.
- Retire the phrase “This is how I’ve always done things”: This statement is simply a justification for resisting change. Continuing to do things as you have in the past is not the same thing as continuing to do what works best.
- Take small steps: One of the biggest barriers to learning new technology (or anything for that matter) is feeling overwhelmed or discouraged about the distance between where you are and where the end goal is. It’s too far. You cannot make it there in one step. So break it down into many steps and keep taking steps toward that end goal.
- Prioritize certain changes: Since any change requires an investment of your time and energy, start with goals that require the least amount of energy that will also most improve your life or your work. Having rewards early on from your efforts is a great motivator to continue to achieve progress toward your goals.
- Team up with others: Whether it is teaming up with others in your office who are also learning the technology, telling others about your goals so that you have some accountability, or asking for help from others that know the technology (I recommend LOMAP), having others involved makes the burden less and provides much needed encouragement when facing difficulty.
- Reject the lie that you can’t do it: Plain and simple, it’s just not true. A mentor of mine used to be fond of the expression that “Persistence wears out resistance.” Just ask the rain how it carves through the rock. If you believe that you can accomplish your goals, then it’s only a matter of time. Stick with it and don’t give up.
Shawn Healy, PhD