Change or Inertia?

Change Motivation and Barriers

Most people want to do better, or be better.  Some people are furiously driven to achieve and learn and some just potter along but we are generally united in a desire to improve our situation.  It almost defines being human, being curious and wanting to change things for the better.

On the other hand, it can seem hard to even make up our minds about which phone company to choose, let alone make any positive decisions about more fundamental change.  We can simultaneously want change but be strangely apathetic.  

What’s that about?  What impels our change desire?  What prevents it?

As highly evolved animals, perhaps the answer is as simple as, am I in enough pain to change?  And can I use my imagination to create desire for change?

I’m fascinated by our internal, and external, change triggers and barriers so let’s break this down into the best environment for change (whatever your change looks like) and the things that stop us.

Five Conditions for Change

  1. Being conscious of a problem – you have to feel pain before you want change.  
  2. Being hopeful that it can be fixed – hope can be provided in a variety of ways but seeing someone else making positive changes has to be one of the most inspiring things, particularly if that someone looks like you.
  3. Understanding the costs of change – and accepting them.  Change is almost never for free so we have to accept that before we act.  But the cost of change should be less than the benefit.  
  4. Which leads to an understanding of process –
    1. I have a problem
    2. I think I can fix it
    3. It’ll cost a certain amount
    4. But it’s worth it
  5. Keeping the bigger picture in mind – whilst you’re beavering away in the engine room of change, take a few moments to put your head up and take in the distance you’re travelling towards your goal.

Five Conditions for Inertia

  1. I’m happy as I am – fantastic.  You’re all good, stay inert.
  2. Being without hope – I can’t see a way out.  I’m trapped in the situation. This feeling of hopelessness can take many forms but we’ve probably all felt it at some point.  But there usually is a way out – sometimes you just need some help.
  3. Being too preoccupied with other things – I’m too busy to deal with this.  Busyness is all about priorities – if the house is burning down, you’ll find the time to call the fire brigade.  If it’s important, you’ll deal with it.
  4. Starting the process but running out of steam – this can happen when you underestimate the difficulty or lose sight of your goals.  There always seems to be someone who has changed without any apparent effort or will (“the weight just dropped off me” “I was so lucky, I just got this big contract”), but in reality, most changes are tough and you need some resilience.  
  5. Not having a clear picture of what you want to achieve.  If you don’t know what it’s all for, it’s hard to stay on track.

So to change or not to change?

  • Consider your long term goals and desires – does this change help me towards them?
  • Take time to plan and understand the consequences of change – how much will it cost, is it worth it, do I understand the likely timelines and steps in the process?
  • Consider whether you have the right resources in place – can you afford it, do you have the time for this and do you have the right people around you?

Beany wants to understand how to help NZ businesses be more prosperous.  If you’re interested in being more prosperous and finding out how to do that in a structured environment, contact us as we’re looking for participants in a financial accelerator research programme. Email me on