30 Nov 2018

If you are going to change, change wisely

We can’t work 60 hours a week and spend all day with our children nor can we eat anything we want and lose weight. We’re all different -- and so are our needs -- an interview with a consultant, strategist and blogger.

Wysokie Obcasy
Aleksandra Lewinska Wysokie Obcasy, Global
If you are going to change, change wisely - NewsMavens
Adventure, Pixabay

The following fragments from Aleksandra Lewinska’s interview with Angelika Chimkowska first appeared in the Polish weekly “Wysokie Obcasy” in January 2018.

Aleksandra Lewinska: So I hate my job. What should I do? Accept the fact that life isn’t perfect, grit my teeth and carry on?

Angelika Chimkowska: We tend to think that if we don’t change anything, our life will remain exactly the same. But maintaining the status quo is like standing on an escalator and telling yourself that if you’re not walking, your position is not changing either.

Whether we act or not, changes will come. Except they probably won’t match our expectations.

If my regular job makes me frustrated it’s probably time find a new one or start my own business. That’s the first stage of the transtheoretical model of behaviour change -- precontemplation stage. It’s the hardest part -- we don’t feel right but we don’t know why and we certainly don’t know how to fix it.

Usually, we start employing self-defense mechanisms -- a smoker says: “I deserve something from life” or “We all have to die of something”. At this stage people want some kind of change in general but they don’t want to change specifically. They procrastinate their decision till next year or make it dependent on other circumstances: “I’ll quit when my neighbour quits”; “I will start a business once I came up with a brilliant idea.” We wait for the perfect timing, but it will never come.

AL: Let’s say that I hate my job but I also have a business idea. I’ve been thinking about it over the last two or three years but I can’t make a final decision.

That’s because change needs emotions! Logic is not the driving force here, it’s our feelings!

AL: So I should trust my emotions and quit in the heat of the moment? That’s mad!

We like to see ourselves as rational and logical creatures, but that’s not how it works. Without emotions, we will think something over but won’t put any change into practice -- that’s why it’s important to use these momentary impulses in life. For some of us it might be an illness or a sudden death, for others a conversation that provokes the question: “Am I happy with my current life situation?” A negative answer will undoubtedly evoke the strong emotions necessary to make a life-changing decision.

Once we’re there, we enter the contemplation stage: “What do I need to make a start? How much time do I need before I set off and how long should I wait to see whether it’s working?” Making decisions means eliminating different options. For some reason we find it hard to understand that we don’t need everything. We can’t unconditionally dedicate ourselves to our career, work 60 hours a week and spend all day with our children. We can’t eat anything we want and lose weight. We need to choose to eliminate all the alternatives and, only then, start implementing our changes.

The third phase is called the preparation stage and it comes before the action and maintenance stages. At this point the smoker cuts down on cigarettes and an employee -- still working for the company -- finds their first private client. Joy and success -- but it’s still a long way to a  prospering business or becoming a non-smoker.

Remember, we won’t find our passion lying on the sofa and watching Netflix.

If we think “business”, we need do some research, talk to people who own their own companies, see what it entails and check whether it’s something we really want to do. And above all, ask ourselves: What’s in it for me? Everyone will come up with a different answer.

AL: What was your answer?

I was convinced that being self-employed would give me higher job satisfaction and more control over my life than my old position. Working for a company rarely provides us with enough space and freedom to test our ideas, choose business partners, colleagues or clients. Being self-employed allowed me to do all these things. If we’re changing our life, we need to know why we’re doing it.

AL: And once we know why, do we drop everything and start our own business?

That’s one of the methods. If you ask me, changes should be introduced carefully. It’s good to find the first client whilst we’re still employed.

Bill Gates didn’t just work for a company and wait for a private client to come knocking on his door and ask: “Would you like to programme something for me?” He was constantly programming and when the business opportunity showed  up, he simply took it. That’s a lesson for all of us:

If you dream of your own business but you’re not ready to take that risk -- keep preparing yourself, analyze, be ready. And remember to always be secure.

AL: Meaning?

We could decide that we won’t spend more than 40% of our savings to get our business running. Once the money is gone, we should stop for a moment and ask ourselves whether it’s worthwhile to continue. Or we could plan that after one year we will calculate our costs and incomes and check if we’re making enough profit. It’s advisable to accept some critical points that will help us verify our decision. Such carefulness is characteristic to women.

AL: Is it?

Studies show that when it comes to running a company females focus on evolution, not revolution. They’re also incredibly good at building and maintaining strong business  relationships, which is not only clever but also extremely beneficial. In today’s world, dominated by social media and easy access to information, a good reference becomes a crucial success determiner. I have experienced it myself a few times.

AL: Surely there are people who shouldn’t run their own business?

Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Not because they’re too stupid or not friendly enough to attract new clients but because being a businessman requires a high stress resistance, conflict solving skills and the ability to deal with difficult situations. Some people are simply not predisposed to have their own business and that’s OK. I wouldn’t like our readers to think that working in a corporation is in any way worse than being your own boss. We’re all different -- and so are our needs.

AL: Any advice for someone who has just started their own company?

Grab a piece of paper and write down what made you do it. Think of three reasons. For example: “I decided to quit my old job because: 1. It allows me to pursue my passion, 2. I have more freedom, 3. I don’t waste time getting stuck in traffic.” I know for a fact that every beginning entrepreneur will need this little piece of paper rather sooner than later.


Angelika Chimkowska is the author of “Psychologia zmiany w życiu i biznesie” [The Psychology of Change in Life and Business], MBA graduate, strategist, trainer, independent consultant and blogger --

Translated from Polish by Martyna Kardach


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