To change and to improve are two different things.


To change and to improve are two different things. – German Proverb

"Un, yeah, you changed your look!" But is the haircut an improvement?

“Un, yeah, you changed your look!” But is the haircut an improvement? Don’t feel too bad, it should grow out in a few weeks, a couple months tops!

What does that mean?
There are many important distinctions in life, and this is one of the more important ones. Being dissatisfied with something or some aspect of your life is as good a reason as any to make a change.

The point of the quote is to not confuse change with improvement. It is very much a possibility that things will be worse after an arbitrary change. The trick is to put enough thought and enough effort into your change to help make sure it will be a change for the better, or and improvement.

It’s kind of like changing pants. If you keep both the clean pants and the dirty pants in the closet, and aren’t particular about where you grab a different pair, you could just as easily grab one from the dirty pile as from the clean pile (or nicely folded or hung, depending on how you store your clean laundry).

Why is carefully selecting improvements important?  
Have you ever done something like the pants example, above? Or perhaps something more significant and damaging? Does random change work well? In some cases it’s not as bad, it can be a great way to find interesting new restaurants. Or get a really bad stomach ache, right?

If you were going to buy a car or a house, both of which would constitute a significant change in your life, would you put some effort into it, or would you staple the classified ads to the wall and throw darts at it, then go buy the car from the ad you hit with the dart?

Yet many people put very little thought into changes in their life. How many times have you seen someone get fed up with their hairstyle and make a massive change to it? How often is it an improvement? Yes, eventually you get used to it, or they change it again, but the less thought put into the choice, the less likely it will be to improve the situation, right?

Where can I apply this in my life?
While this quote could be applied to nearly anything in your life, business or politics, let’s focus on our own personal lives as a starting point. Where in your life have you made an impulsive change and found it to be less than an improvement? Compare that to how often it was an improvement.

Have I made the case for thinking before making a change, and to hold out for something that will be an improvement? This kind of impulsiveness shows up as a theme in many sit-coms and other TV shows. And while things usually work out by the end of the show, there is a lot of funny/silly/embarrassing activities along the way, right?

I don’t know about you, but I try to keep my life as far away from a reality TV show or sit-com script as I can. In my experience, life will throw enough randomness and change at us to satisfy all but the most extreme seeker of variety.

When we are thinking about changing something in our lives, the first thing to do is determine how significant the results will be. If we’re changing the curtains, we might not put as much time into making sure it’s an improvement. If we’re changing jobs, we might want to put a little more effort into the decision process, right?

When considering a major change, I usually start by listing the worst things about the present situation, all of the biggest reasons why I feel a need to change things. That’s the motivation to change, my reason why I am willing to go through the discomfort of change, and take the chance of ending up somewhere even worse.

Then I make a list of all the things that must be part of the new situation. I ask what would make the new situation even worse than the present one? If the change was a new job, and I had a specific problem with co-workers, I would make sure I checked out the potential co-workers before taking a new job. And I’d make sure I had a new job before I quit the old one, right?

I would also list the things I would really like to have in the new job. Usually that starts with better pay, hours, or benefits, but often includes other intangibles, like a better commute or a more secure parking lot. What ever it is, write it down. Be as specific as possible.

While it’s unlikely you’ll get everything you’re looking for, it’s even less likely to happen if you aren’t looking for it, right? Take your time, and figure out what you want, and not just what you don’t want. It’s hard to find a good negative.

What do I mean by that? Find a good car that isn’t red. That’s not much of a search criteria, is it? And if you don’t include what you do want in a vehicle, what are the odds that you would ever find something that would make you happy?

Moving away from something you dislike is a direction, not a destination. The first is simply change for the sake of change. The second, while not guaranteed, is change with a chance of actually resulting in an improvement. Which makes more sense to you?

What in your life do you want to change? And what in your life do you want to improve? If you are serious, I would suggest you grab some paper and get busy!

From: Twitter, @quotecornercom
confirmed at : http://thinkexist.com/quotation/to_change_and_to_improve_are_two_different/165902.html
Photo by spcbrass

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About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
This entry was posted in doing, improve, obstacles, plan, question, self improvement and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to To change and to improve are two different things.

  1. Pingback: You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight. | philosiblog

  2. Pingback: No untroubled day has ever dawned for me. | philosiblog

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