I flourish on change: I embrace it and I love it. So, why, did I feel unsettled and sad when recently confronted with some change relating to a voluntary position that I hold; and why did I find myself contemplating making it a greater change than it potentially needs to be? There is no simple answer here. Looking at the thought processes an emotional responses that were involved I realise that it was quite a sophisticated process of cause and effect.
We can point to various reasons for why we do an don't like change. For some it is the fear of the unknown, of something new and different moving then out of their comfort zone. Others find those same reasons a catalyst for excitement and they embrace change.
When asked if I would consider making the change my response was quick and positive: absolutely. It made perfect sense and would be beneficial to the organisation in question. There was potential for me to benefit also in that it would free up some valuable time and reduce responsibility. True to nature however, this prompted me to look at the broader picture and to consider my options.
Were my skills of less use to the organisation now? Would other organisations benefit more from my skills? Did I want a new challenge? Was it time to move on to pastures new? My conclusion was that this was indeed time to move on. Then, surprisingly, I felt quite emotional. I had not appreciated just how much my involvement went beyond business: I am a passionate supporter of the organisation and have developed an emotional attachment. It has become personal rather than purely business.
It had never occurred to me that an emotional attachment to something would affect how I feel about change.
It is a very different scenario when it comes to my day job. There is no real passion, no emotion: which is one of the reasons I seek out and thrive on change, and which in turn is perfect for someone who works on a freelance and contract basis. The end of one engagement and the start of another holds no upset or fear for me. There is a detachment there and it is first and foremost a means to an end. It pays the bills. Don’t get me wrong, there are aspects of my work that I enjoy and can at times be passionate about, but overall, like so many of us, I really want to be doing other things such as volunteering and, as I come neatly to my point, running.
Runners are deeply passionate about and emotionally involved in their running. This motivates and drives us, keeps us going when things get tough, drives our ambition and competitiveness. It is also responsible for our superstitions. Runners are oddly superstitious: the rituals and routines that we are driven to follow; the lucky bit of kit that has to worn at all races; the piece of jewellery. It is responsible for that gut wrenching sinking feeling that plays havoc with our heads when changed, when the ritual is not performed or the item forgotten or misplaced.
Similarly, this is why we find it so hard to cope not being able to run and the change to our routine and life that brings about. Whilst the logical side of our brain knows that we have to rest or recover and that it is good for us, we are unsettled, even upset, by the change of routine and the prospect of not being able to do the thing we love so much.
Running is our ‘grand passion’. It is at times beautiful and amazing, provoking great joy (and sometimes euphoria), and at others responsible great unhappiness. It can make us averse to and fearful of change. There is no cure. We learn to live with it. It makes us stronger, shapes our character and personality, and if we are honest, we would not have it any other way.