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When Does Change Happen?

One question that keeps on coming up on Quora in different variations is how do I stop being lazy/how do I stop procrastinating and working on non-priorities…Basically, a lot of people want to improve their situation, and work on passion projects , but there’s a huge gap between what they want to do and what they end up doing.

One thing I’ve learnt from my life is change can happen due to internal factors or external factors. The external factors are akin to having the carpet pulled underneath your feet and include drastically changing life situations such as a job loss or a divorce. It doesn’t always have to be negative. Sometimes people are pushed to change when they have a child, and they decide they’re going to be the best version of themselves so they could be positive role models for these kids. External factors can’t always be controlled, so I’m not going to delve too much into that.

The main internal factor is interesting though; it’s that point when the pain of being in your comfort zone becomes greater than the pain of doing something and the fear of rejection. If we’re going to be nerdy about it, the equation is as follows;

Pain in Comfort Zone > Pain of Change + Fear of Rejection

First all of all, let’s start with some maths. In an interesting chapter in The Happiness Equation, Neil Pasricha raises a question, “What do Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg have in common? They all have 168 hours in their weeks. The richest man in the world can’t buy more time.”

His argument is if you can divide 168 hours by three, and you get 56 hours in each bucket. Assume one whole bucket is for sleep and another one is for work, that leaves a whole empty bucket for everything else. That’s 56 hours you could invest or waste; the choice of how to spend them is up to you.

So person Z is in his comfort zone; after work he makes himself a sandwich for dinner and Facebooks the night away until he goes to bed. He resists working on his passion project because he knows if he intends to build it into something big then he’ll have to work so hard on it, and he already works hard at his day job. Also, he’s scared of rejection; what if people hate what he says, or even worse, what if nobody even listens? Everybody’s got an online megaphone nowadays, and it’s very easy to get lost in the noise.

But here’s the thing with a passion project. If you’re doing it to make money or become famous, then it’s not really a passion project. It’s just a project. You do a passion project because you can’t NOT do it. If you stop doing it, the gaping hole creates a vacuum that hurts so much…and the pain will keep on increasing until it exceeds the pain of working hard on it or the fear of rejection…and that’s the point when change happens.

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Image from modified via Buffer Pablo.

Published inPersonal Development