Fear of Change (Stability vs. Uncertainty)

Fear of Change (Stability vs. Uncertainty)


This article was written by Jungmin Kim (Jamie). To join the conversation and see other questions, check out our Aristotle’s Café Facebook Page.

Fear of change is something that everyone feels.

Our discussion this week proved that to be true.
This week there were people from 5 different nationalities at various stages of life, career and pursuits. The starting question chosen was:
Between absolute stability and no certainty at all, what would you prefer for your life?
This is one of the many epiphany questions that we grapple with each week.
Our lives are a compound of stability and uncertainty. Perhaps there are different spheres of our lives that are more stable or more uncertain.
Looking at our lives as a whole, most of us move back and forth between stability and uncertainty at all times. From knowing what to expect (feeling safe, then feeling a bit bored) and then wanting more excitement but still feeling worried (fear of change).
Through personal growth and learning, we also change our approach.
And prioritize one or the other when making important decisions at different stages of our lives.

So are we able to choose between absolute stability and absolute uncertainty?

Are any of us able to overcome the fear of change? Let’s explore even further.

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Fear of Change in Our Lives

Each of us broke down ‘stability’ and ‘uncertainty’ in different ways.
We made connections between stability and uncertainty with specific situations, areas of life, and people we know.
For people who had moved to different countries in the past years, stability meant something in particular. It made them think of friends in their home countries who are maintaining careers and families they would not leave.
Others said stability is something they would want in their family lives – especially for their children.
Extreme uncertainty comes about under stressful situations. For example: losing a job, a loved one passing away, or finding out that you have a serious illness. A university student who is studying to graduate but unsure about her career path after graduation may also feel uncertainty.

Your Identity as a Foundation for Stability

One line of thinking pointed to the fact that the organizations we belong to define our identities. But on a larger scale, so does society, and this makes for stability in our lives.

Do you agree with this?

Our roles and identities in organizations are defined by organizations as part of a hierarchical structure. (Manager, Staff, Employee, CEO, HR, Marketing)

Within a broader society, one’s identity may be shaped by his or her social and economic status or even a particular role within their family…

Mother, Father, Son, Daughter – These identities allow a person to feel secure and stable.

In this context, one of our members contended that we have an inherent drive to seek stability.

In fact, associating ourselves with a specific role or status within an organization or society gives us the sense of connectedness to a community.

It may be for this reason that we strive to clarify an identity for ourselves in interaction with the organization and society we belong to – we feel connected, secure, and stable.


Don’t Let Fear of Change Stop You

When we delved into our work lives in particular, we found a common ground.

All of us pursue goals that lead to personal development and learning.

For some of us, the process of pursuing goals brought with it a fear of change – not knowing what the end of the path will lead to.

The achievement of the goals symbolized stability.

However, after achievement of goals we often found ourselves striving towards the next. So we keep this constant pulse between a state of uncertainty and stability.

If we stay with an achieved goal, would we naturally be at a state of stability?

Our answer was no…

There are many factors external to us that may alter our positions and roles in our lives.

An organizational-level change that may re-define the scope of our work is one example of such an external force beyond our control.

Just like with individuals -organizations are constantly progressing towards a collective goal.

Change and uncertainty seem to be an inevitable and constant state.

Will you let fear of change stop you?

“There is stability in walking an uncertain path, because you never allow yourself to be misled by what you think you know.”

Fluidity of life in all domains: Personal Growth and Learning

This brought us to think about other spheres of our lives in the same manner…

What may seem stable to us currently – such as a stable family, relationship, health – in fact, does not guarantee the same future.

This should not be perceived as a misfortune…

Rather, we should accept the fluidity of life as a whole and the uncertainty inherent in its nature. To achieve and maintain stability wherever it is meaningful to us, we should devote our time and energy.

Maybe that’s the best mindset to achieve personal growth.

Concluding thoughts

Each of the members had unique experiences of their own.

Viewing fear of change from different angles and approaches. Thinking of absolute stability and absolute uncertainty in a variety of ways.

But we all came to one conclusion. That all areas of our lives are fluid and changeable.

Likewise, both stability and uncertainty are found in different domains of our lives in various degrees and mixes.

If we find ourselves desiring either the state of ‘absolute stability’ or ‘absolute uncertainty’, we should reflect on our life.

If we want absolutes there might be an imbalance in our choices that are throwing us down an extreme path.

If that’s the case – perhaps the best approach is to embrace your fear of change, powerfully pursue your goals. And enjoy stability during the short moments when you find satisfaction in it.

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