Have you ever heard that change is the journey, not the destination? What people mean by this is that change is a means to an end, not the end itself. In other words, don’t get too excited about change; get excited about where it will eventually take you.
In a way, this makes perfect sense. If there is no compelling reason to change, why go to all the trouble? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
But does the emphasis on end points really make all that much sense? Increasingly in this day and age, your end point is unlikely to be your final destination. You may set a goal or pick a place you want to be in your personal or business life, but if you attempt to put down roots and stay there forever, you will surely run into problems. Things change, and we must change with them. In reality, ends are almost never destinations – they are goals; points along the way that may be good to reach, but will also eventually be good to leave behind.
If ends are not really destinations, what are they? They are actually parts of the change process. They may be “little ends”: points to aim for in one cycle of change. But if you see them from the perspective of on-going change, they are really parts of a larger process.
The stories we tell of our lives mirror the fact that ends are not destinations. We set ourselves goals that require us to change and grow – educational goals, employment goals, sporting goals, relationship goals, or attainment goals. We strive for them, and in the process, we change – perhaps a lot, or maybe a little. But in the end, the way we use language shrinks these goals and all we had to do to attain them to a single point. We say, “I went to university and got a degree”, “I met my partner and we got married”. Goals and processes become points in the larger story of our lives.
If destinations are actually part of the change process, doesn’t it make sense for us to focus more on the process? Change is not ‘just’ the process, less important that the final ‘destination’. In a way, change is the destination – a destination with many points along the way.
If change is so important, change fitness is just as important. People who are fit for change have greater ability to choose how and when they will change. In other words, the more capacity you have for the change process, the more ‘destinations’ you are able to choose. And the more able you are to move on when the time comes.
Dr Steve Barlow