The high price of avoidance

If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.
Jim Rohn
1930 – 2009

It’s unfortunate, but most people tend to avoid doing the things which will have the biggest impact on their lives. We’ve been taught since childhood to be careful, to avoid failure, and to stay away from danger. We’ve become conditioned to steer clear of conflict and problems and to avoid threats to our sense of self.

But avoidance comes with a price. All worthy goals in life require us to try something new, to explore unknown territory, to attempt the uncomfortable or the unfamiliar. To achieve these goals, we must overcome a natural conflict: the urge to learn and grow versus the fear of the unknown. When we experience fear, it’s very easy to default to familiar behavior and engage in avoidance.

Have you ever considered the cost of avoidance? What are you missing in your life by avoiding change?

The truth is, when you try to avoid failure, you’re actually avoiding success.

Okay, that’s a big statement. Stop and think about it. Success only comes after we confront those things which are uncomfortable or unfamiliar. So when you’re consumed with avoiding failure, you deliberately skirt the circumstances that could lead you to success.

Take a few minutes to write down some of the things you’ve been avoiding. Then calculate the cost of your avoidance.

Are you stuck in a job that’s unfulfilling? What is that costing you in terms of reaching your goals in life? What’s the impact of the additional stress on your health? What toll does it take on your family and friends?

What about your personal relationships? Are you staying in unsatisfactory relationships rather than pursue more fulfilling ones? What’s the cost of following this path?

I can’t know what you’re avoiding. But if you truly want to achieve your goals in life, if you want to be the best person you’re capable of being, then you really need to be honest about the things you’re avoiding and face the high cost of continuing that behavior.

Write out at least four or five things in your business or professional life that you’ve been avoiding. These are changes that you should or could pursue which will make a real difference in your life. I’m not talking about superficial changes. I want you to focus on the core issues, the tough choices that you’ve been avoiding. Be honest about the behavior and the cost.

Then do the same thing for your personal life; identify relationship changes or personal lifestyle changes that you know you need to make but have yet to do.

One of the reasons we fail to make changes is that we don’t fully evaluate the benefits of making the change and the cost of not acting. It’s very important that you make a good, honest assessment of what it’s costing you to avoid change.

As you’re doing this exercise, keep in mind that costs are often cumulative. That is, the cost continues year after year and often increases each year. If a behavior costs $10,000 per year, after five years the cumulative cost would be $50,000. That’s a lot of money. But we often fail to do things which could easily have a $10,000 a year impact on our lives.

Look at what you’ve been avoiding and understand the cost. Then decide: can you afford to continue ignoring what you ought to do?

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.
Leonardo da Vinci
1452 – 1519

Copyright © 2018 John Chancellor

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