I Hated Change — But Moved Across 3 Continents, Switched 4 Different Jobs and Started 4 Companies
Growing up in a small rural village in the southern part of India, all I wanted was to get a job as a teacher, like my father. When my father got transferred to another school in another village, I hated that move. All my friends were gone. We needed to rent another ramshackle house. I hated everything about that move. I just hated change.
Here I am now in the United States. The memory of that village was long gone. Apart from India, I lived in Europe for some time and finally moved to the USA for good. By the way, I never applied for that teacher job.
I initially moved from a village to a town for college and finally to Bombay (Mumbai) for my first job. From there to Europe and finally to the US on work projects. I switched around 4 large companies, got an MBA in between and managed to start 4 different companies.
So a person who inherently and passionately hated change ended up with so much change? And more importantly, how did I manage so much change in my life? I didn’t explicitly realize the enormity of this change until I started researching into why people make changes (or don’t).
First, let me answer the question of why
The move to a town to study engineering was straight forward. Obviously, that was the only place where there was an engineering college. Afterward, every one of those changes was my intentional and deliberate choice.
Almost all the changes I made in my life fell into 2 broad categories.
Moving out of India was an intentional and deliberate change. I realized that there were a lot more opportunities outside of India for me to showcase my talents and leverage my strengths. As a result, I chose to join an organization that allowed me to travel outside of India.
Later on, I chose to join a business school to get an MBA while I was working as a Systems Analyst. You can read more about that decision in this article. The exact reason for that choice was more of anxiety that my skill set might become obsolete in the future but I deliberately chose to leave my job and join a full-time MBA program.
The last example I will give was my choice to leave the corporate world and go full time as an entrepreneur. Reason for this choice was the realization that my passion at that stage of my life was elsewhere doing different things.
Changes because of Life changing events
Marriage and our two children’s’ birth and upbringing were obvious life-changing events in my life. Each one of those events brought some changes in my life and as a result, I made some changes to my jobs. Overall, I selected jobs which required less travel and less of away time. Call it work-life balance if you will.
Underlying Causes of All Those Changes
When I look back and analyze, I realize that there were four fundamental causes of these changes.
Unhappy with the status quo:
I wasn’t happy with the remote village environment where I grew up. Even though I hated change, I was determined to get out of it at the earliest opportunity.
Looking for new challenges:
My first job in Bombay was comfortable but I knew that the opportunities elsewhere would be more rewarding. I was looking for new challenges. That’s when I found an opportunity to travel abroad on work.
Anxiety about the future:
When I left another comfortable job in the USA for an MBA degree, I was driven by anxiety more than anything else. I thought that I’d be obsolete if I did not learn new skills and acquire new knowledge. You can read more about this in my other article.
My more recent ventures are driven by realizing that my passion lay elsewhere. I was happy with the job I was doing and if I looked around with the same company, I’d have found other challenging opportunities. But the overriding factor was my passion to make an impact through my own personal endeavors.
Yes, change is hard. I had so many excuses at every step not to make that change. But it’d have been even harder if I did not make those changes and I’d have been very unhappy with myself (this I know for sure).
Why People Don’t Make Changes?
Kathy Caprino, a contributor to Forbes, stated in this article that there are 5 main reasons why people don’t make changes.
People don’t know how to sustain motivation
For me, this was not an issue at all. I was very motivated to get out of the prior environment/situation and I was willing to persevere to do that. I was not always sure what the future state would be but I was determined to get out of the prior environment. One of the tools I used extensively to stay motivated was journaling. I would write all my thoughts, demons, struggles in my personal journal and dream about the future in these journals.
People have the desire but not the tools (mindset, energy, know-how, support etc.) to create change
I was fortunate in this regard. I always cultivated an excellent network of friends and my family supported me unwaveringly in all my endeavors. More than anything else, my network of friends and colleagues showed me the way more than once. I can’t emphasize the importance of this networking tool.
What people thought they wanted isn’t turning out to be right, but they don’t pivot
This was true couple of times in my life. After my MBA, I struggled to find the job I wanted in the industry I desired. More than once, I thought to myself that I probably didn’t make the right decision about MBA especially when I looked at the student loan at that time. I took a detour for a short period of time but finally, I ended up where I wanted to be. That short detour helped me navigate the difficult times.
People’s confidence has been flattened and they don’t know how to rebuild it
Fortunately, I didn’t have any catastrophic failures (business or life) so far (knock on wood) but there were many incidences to set my confidence back. I almost always dealt with these situations with one reminder to myself that ‘nothing can be worse than my environment/situation from my early stages of growing up in that remote village.’
New life challenges bubble up to shift their priorities
This is true in more ways than one. Had I ventured into starting my own entrepreneurial gig when our children were in elementary school or so, it would have been a disaster. Even though I had ambitions of venturing out since their birth, I stayed on much later to start out on my own. There is a timing for everything and recognizing these challenges is key to making a successful change.
To repeat my earlier assertion, change is hard. But we’ll realize that the consequences of not making those changes will be much, much harder. Sure I hated change but it was absolutely necessary for me to make all the changes I made in my life to become a ‘better me.’
So where are you in your stage of life? Comfortable where you are? That’s perfectly fine. But if you are looking for a change for any reason, whether you are unhappy your circumstances, your passion lies somewhere else, or you just want new challenges, don’t be afraid to take that additional step.
You’ll persevere. You’ll land on your feet. Just look at me. I’d still be somewhere in that remote village in India if I had not taken that initial step.