Do you use the same route when you go to work in the morning?
Do you park your car in the same spot every day?
Do you have an old piece of furniture in your home which you know you should replace but you never do because it has a sentimental value to you?
Yeah you do.
Fear of change is ingrained in the human genes. It was meant to protect you. Back in the Stone age, your ancestors and their offspring had the greatest chance of survival if they spent their whole life living in the same cave and roaming in the same territory. This way they got to know their environment inch by inch – they knew exactly what’s behind the hill and where’s the safest place for drinking water. Your ancestors got used to the sounds and smells of the territory so they were alert to any minor change in them, which allowed them to be better prepared for meeting change. And “change” for them often meant danger – like a hungry lion passing by or maybe another human tribe tresspassing the territory.
So, your brain is programmed to associate change with danger. You are programmed to think that by sticking to what you know, you have the best chance of survival. After all, you exist today thanks to the fact that fear of change made your ancesstors stick to what they know and avoid stupid risks.
I will probably have to change my job soon. And I have a problem with that because I’m a little tired of coping with change.
Three years ago I went through a major life change – I quit my job in Sofia, broke up with my boyfriend, and came back home. Here I had to deal with a major family crisis, start a new job in Public administration, and start giving dance lessons. Not to mention that at the time, I owed a lot of money and had a very tough time paying it back. (Bright side: I became an expert at saving money the right way.)
Was I scared? HELL YEAH.
I was so scared of where all these changes will lead that I started having trouble sleeping. I was afraid of what was going to happen to me. I felt completely out of control and at the mercy of destiny. I used to just stay in the dark – sitting on my bed with my back against the wall – staring in the blackness, NOT KNOWING. Not knowing if I’d be able to get out of bed and go to work tomorrow morning. Not knowing if I should call my ex-boyfriend. Not knowing if I will be able to pay back my loan. Not knowing. It was terrifying. Other times I’d sit on the stairs, feeling the cold cement beneath me, and cry out of panic, muffling the sound in the inside of my elbow. Then I’d go to the bathroom and wash my face with cold water to help reduce the puffiness of my eyes and also remove the salt from my cheeks.
Thinking about it, I felt so much fear and uncertainty due to three reasons.
1) I had no money to give me a sense of security. I had no savings at all, my new job paid half as much as my Sofia job, and also I owed money – way past the deadline. Some days I cradled my head in my hands and honestly wondered if I was ever going to get through this and put that loan behind me. And also if I was ever going to move on from buying second hand stuff because it’s cheap.
2) There were too many changes that ambushed me all at once – family crisis; moving from Sofia to my home townl; changing jobs; breaking up with boyfriend; changing the place I lived.
3) No one asked me if I wanted these changes or if I was ready for them. They just happened. (And by “happened” I mean “hit me in the face out of the blue”)
Eventually everything turned out fine. I spent 2 years on my job in public administration and 3 years teaching dance.
Those changes didn’t kill me. They didn’t hurt me. I’m fine.
Recently – several months ago – I started a new job in the recession. I had my worries – after all, during recession people get laid off left and right, and my contract was not permanent but still in probation period – so I had my worries. But again, so far everything’s good.
Of course, I have to admit that having a certain amount of cash really helps your sense of security :) I personally keep 3 months’ worth of living expences in liquid savings – they are in the bank and I can draw from my account any time. The rest of my savings – about 6 months’ worth – are deposited and can’t be drawn for three years. Which doesn’t bother me at all because that account is for my life savings.
Maybe these amounts don’t look like much, but that’s the best I could do. I only started saving after I paid back my loan, and then I couldn’t save too much because while paying back the loan, I spent next to nothing on shoes and clothes. So even after I paid the loan, I was in dire need of some decent shoes and clothes; not to mention I had to buy a new laptop. I also spent 5 days on a cheap vacation – yeah I could have done without it but I hadn’t been on vacation in 10 years.
So as you can see, change is a part of life. It’s scary, but it’s also the only way to learn something new. If you keep the same routine day after day after day, how are you going to evolve?
PS: Stay with me – next time we’re going to talk about how money help you be prepared when you meet big changes in your life, why most of us are afraid to change jobs, and what’s the worst that could happen when you make a change.