If It's Time, Change Your Mind
More than once, I've had someone tell me they want to start writing -- for a blog, a column on another website, or even just social media -- but they couldn't commit to executing on their idea.
"I know I'm still learning about my topic," one person explained, "and I keep thinking about the fact that if I write something today, it might be outdated in a year. Or I'll have learned something new that changes how I think about something, and what I wrote in the past will become something I don't agree with in the future."
Essentially, they were afraid of writing something out and then changing their mind about what they once believed — and they didn’t want the physical evidence of a blog post left behind to prove it.
I get that. We're actually all wired to have an aversion to revising ourselves; to stating something today and then changing our statement tomorrow.
As humans, we want to avoid experiencing cognitive dissonance, or the state of holding a contradictory belief or idea.
Our brains are so interested in avoiding the discomfort that comes with cognitive dissonance, in fact, that they'd rather stubbornly cling to an old, outdated, inaccurate belief than accept a new one that doesn't fit the old model.
It's why we're so prone to stuff like sunk cost fallacy. Let me know if this sounds familiar:
We think we have to watch an entire season of a show simply because we already watched half the episodes. Never mind that halfway through the season kind of tanked and we stopped enjoying it.
And never mind that the "price: has already been paid -- we can't get that time we spent watching the first half of the season back -- and therefore that's a sunk cost.
Yet we keep watching, we keep spending (wasting?) time because for our brains, continuing to watch means getting to confirm the original idea ("this show will be worth watching") and that allows us to avoid cognitive dissonance.
Kind of insane when you lay it out like that, right?
But these are the hoops our brains happily jump through sometimes. Unfortunately, all that hoop-jumping distracts from the truth:
There's nothing wrong with changing your mind. (And, from a broader perspective of life in general, there's nothing wrong with change.) When people tell me they want to start something but don't want to because starting or doing means publicly committing to an idea or opinion that might evolve later, I just shrug.
It's okay to change your mind.
In fact, it's downright powerful to be able to change your mind, to share with people the process you experienced that lead you to change, and to explain why you made the change even though you started out somewhere else.
You don't have to stubbornly cling to an old belief simply because you once believed it!
Life is change. The best way to navigate your life is by doing (rather than merely thinking or talking). That combination of truths adds up to another:
You will do things today that you change your mind about at some point in the future. And that doesn't mean anything -- it certainly doesn't mean anything bad about you as a person. It simply reflects the reality of the world we live in.
Things change. Times change. People change. You change.
It can be uncomfortable to evolve and shift from one state of being to another. And sure, it can be even more uncomfortable to do that on a stage or in front of an audience.
But I've found that getting comfortable with that discomfort -- the discomfort of change, of that cognitive dissonance that your brain feels when you make a shift -- is the surest sign that you are growing in the right direction.
That you're pushing for a better, more capable, more fulfilled version of yourself.
And personally, I've grown to like sharing and displaying my own processes of growth and iteration to an audience, whether that's via a blog or on social media or right here in these letters to you.
That's why I started and closed down a blog in the last year. It's why I've dabbled in different projects here and there. It's why I built up a successful business and just recently decided to walk away from it.
Things changed. I changed. And it's all good because, at this point, I've learned to embrace the discomfort of change when a more fulfilled, optimized, best-for-me-life is waiting on the other side of that transition.
I share those changes because sharing makes it easier to deal with that discomfort. Sharing holds me accountable to continue seeking growth and improvement and embracing change rather than shying away from it.
And, most of all, it's my hope that sharing my own journey through change and changed minds and new opinions and constantly evolving beliefs and understandings about the world shows someone else they can do that, too.
I hope that by making my learning process transparent, it makes you feel like you change your mind too if it's the right thing to do for you. I hope it makes you feel like you can make a shift if it's time to do so.
Don't stick yourself with an idea, a job, a belief, a relationship, a frame of mind, a worldview, a project, a life simply because it's more comfortable to hang on to what you once believed rather than embracing the process of changing to become who you really are.
PS: If you want to read more on accepting, embracing, and appreciating change, you can read this blog post I wrote in 2015. It remains one of my favorite things that I've ever published.