When I quit my job, my boss didn’t want me to leave. But for me to have peace of mind in my profession, I had to. If I hadn’t resigned, my boss would have been stuck with an unhappy employee. My decision to quit didn’t happen overnight though. For several years, I went back and forth, weighing the benefits and consequences of working for someone else. Though I ended up branching out on my own, it took me a long time to do so.
At that time, I was in the contemplation stage of the behavioral change process (this is the point where we’ve already admitted that we have a problem and we’re now wondering whether it’s worth it to change). I’d grown used to receiving a steady paycheck and good benefits. Letting go of that and entering the unstable world of self-employment seemed extremely risky.
I stayed in the contemplation mode for as long as I did because I wanted to make the right choice. I’m sure you’ve been there. Pondering over and over whether you should or shouldn’t change how you view certain situations. But while you’re seeking the perfect answer, there’s always the danger of over-thinking.
There’s a fine line between taking time to make a thorough choice and taking forever to make a move. With my job situation, I was stuck in the contemplation mode for years, and although I finally got out of it, some people never do.
I don’t have a list of tips for getting out of “limbo” mode, because it all comes down to whether you believe the situation is worth changing for. It’s about what you — and the people around you — stand to gain from your change.
Contemplating whether you should change doesn’t apply only to radical situations, such as putting down the bottle or dumping your unfit romantic partner. It also affects the subtler aspects of your life, such as modifying the way you care for your home, how you style your hair, and the types of movies you watch.
Every situation that requires you to adjust your thinking and behavior pits you into contemplation mode. It is therefore a very important stage of the behavioral change process. But it’s a catch-22 because we’re highly susceptible to overdoing the thought process.
Example: You’re a guy who’s attracted to “bad” girls — those devastatingly good-looking vixens your mom warned you about. They have the looks, but terrible personalities. You gravitate toward them, knowing they’re no good for you. You consider making a clean break from them and finding someone with a decent heart. While in contemplation mode, one minute you’re thinking, “I don’t care if she has average looks as long as she’s good to me.” The next minute, “But hot girls look better on my arm.”
See what I mean? You could stay in that zone for a lifetime, thinking, but never moving forward.
We over-think change because we fear it. Change pitches us into the unknown. We can’t help but wonder “What if I don’t like what I find there?”
To get out of contemplation mode quickly, we need to determine if changing will be for the better. To answer that question, we need to ask ourselves “How will this change benefit me?” and “How will it benefit those around me?” If the answers are mostly positive, then it’s worth it to change.
So let’s stop thinking so much and start doing what needs to be done.