Inconvenience of Change: The Problem with Tomorrow

Most change agents out there are dreamers at heart. We dream the kinds of dreams that you can only dream when awake, and most of these dreams have one central theme: tomorrow can be better than today.Today is a New Day

It was Robert Kennedy who first put into words what most of us dreamers think about each day when he so appropriately said that we think about things that aren’t and ask, “Why not?” And whether we’re dreaming of a day when genocide ends or a day when people no longer go hungry in America, we can’t help but think that tomorrow will be a better day, one full of possibility and hope, one that is a future worth working for.

But here’s the downside of dreaming: When we spend so much time thinking about tomorrow, it’s very tempting to say that we’ll get around to it…tomorrow.

Before we know it, tomorrow’s today. And then we keep dreaming of a better tomorrow and put off the real work it’s going to take until – you guessed it – tomorrow.

Maybe this is why real change takes so long. Maybe this is why productive and meaningful advances seem to happen at a snail’s pace. It’s because so much of what gets talked about and dreamed up has to wait.

Until tomorrow. Maybe then change we’ll be convenient. Because it’s super inconvenient and so damn hard today.

So what’s a dreamer to do? How can we look favorably upon tomorrow while reminding ourselves that we’ve got to act today?

For me, it’s wrapped up in a simple five-word phrase: “Today is a new day.”

Before Starbucks put that message on its front doors, our friend Jen Lemen did so in colorful artwork. And for Jen (and us), what follows on that poster is a friendly kick in the stomach. Yes, today is a new day – but it will be just like yesterday if we don’t get busy changing things.

If we don’t embrace kindness.

Or practice compassion, stand up for justice or talk to strangers.

If we don’t ask for help and offer hope.

If we don’t listen with our whole heart, work for the common good or love well.

Everything will stay the same if we don’t try and be the change we wish to see in the world.

So, folks, we’ve got to get busy. Today. Now. Like, right now.

Change is inconvenient because it demands we act today. If we want a cathedral of better tomorrows, her foundation must be laid today.

Sam DavidsonAUTHOR BIO: Sam Davidson, aside from being the man kind enough to be giving away free copies of his book New Day Revolution to all of those involved in the Inconvenience of Change series, is the founder and CEO of Cool People Care. Sam epitomizes what it means to be a social entrepreneur – serving the added bottom line of giving back to community efforts and raising awareness daily. It’s an honor and a privilege to have him as a contributor here and more importantly, to have as a friend.

Social Justice is Inconvenient [Mandy Siu]

Don't start a revolution, join one!It took me a while to get started on this article, but I finally gave up on trying to come up with a great post on personal change and went with what I know best: social justice. I’m an activist by profession and passion so it’s hard for me not to talk about politics whenever I can.

Changing the big picture

Social justice is inconvenient because it requires change not just on the individual level but on the community, regional and national level, and ultimately the global level. Strangely enough though, the more people you can get to change, the easier the situation becomes. Why? Well, Grace’s post on group mentality to change is a great example of this logic but also, social movements essentially mean a group of people working towards one common cause. The momentum alone is enough to affect change. For a lot of people, myself included, it feels like the burden of responsibility is too much and it’s incredibly difficult to want to continue working towards that bigger picture because any kind of movement is slow and filled with squabbles and challenges-much rather like life.

Social justice is also inconvenient because the end results usually don’t measure up to any standard of success. Rather, it doesn’t adhere to any one set of standards considering movements of any kind of magnitude takes on a life of its own and given enough time, becomes sluggish and bogged down in logistics, details and conflicts. Movements diverge and become separate entities and create what we like to call the “silo effect” where half a dozen organizations all with the same or similar mandates end up competing for limited resources from the same group of funders, jealously guarding their work. If that isn’t inconvenient, I don’t know what is.

Don’t start a revolution, join one

The good news is that whatever inconvenience social justice poses, the ultimate goal of making the world a better place for all to live in is worth pursuing. Personal change gives you the motivation to pursue your social justice dreams (whatever they may be) but if you’re like me and not particularly interested in redefining the issue, join the movement. There are, after all, half a dozen or so organizations of your choice to join and to help out by utilizing the awesome skills you picked up while undergoing your personal change. And trust me, they need all the enthusiastic passionate help they can get. So if you’re intimidated by the big picture and feel confused, don’t try to start a revolution-join one instead.

Mandy SiuAUTHOR BIO: Mandy is a 24-year-old social activist living in Canada, wandering aimlessly through the internet looking for the meaning of life. She has her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, which is, incidentally, also her passion (political science, not the degree). She currently works for a non-profit organization whose mandate is human rights education through the framework of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Her collaborative blog project, tentatively titled Sensical Politics, is in the works and should be unveiled on Canada Day (July 1). Reach out and give her a shout on Twitter today!

The Convenience of Mediocrity [Rikin Diwan]

As individuals, we all are inherently wanting in nature.

We want to accomplish, to impact, to make proud, and to be remembered. We are rarely satisfied and in constant search of opportunities that will bring us closer to completing our personal ‘missions’. It is not always easy and we must often change ourselves before we go on to change the world – but change is inconvenient. We find that not only does society make it difficult but that inertia comes between our ability to take action and to achieve our end goals.

If there is a universal truth that could parallel the inconvenience of change it is undoubtedly the convenience of mediocrity. At this very moment I have a cup of tea nearby, a computer in my lap, music playing in the background, and four walls that hold up a sturdy roof to keep the cool air inside. I have a full-time job and granted that I don’t get fired or that the company does not go bankrupt, I’ll receive a check on Thursday precisely at midnight that will then be deposited into a bank that I’ve never even visited. Behind the scenes, there are moving parts working together to make this possible – but I’ll never be aware of or understand all of them. Regardless, at this rate I’m almost guaranteed to sail through life, start a family, advance my career, have a two car garage, and retire relatively comfortably.

My lifestyle is undeniably convenient and you could almost see me continuing along this slightly upward sloping path to live a fairly average life. Don’t get me wrong, mediocrity is not a bad thing and in fact quite admirable. What is even more encouraging is that there are only two things needed to achieve mediocrity: maintenance and imitation. Most of us could maintain our current lifestyle and fair well in the long run. Through maintenance, we’ll continue to rise along the slope of mediocrity. If we ever find ourselves falling behind, we can imitate the successes of others until we’re caught up again to a par 3 lifestyle. But for some of us, we’re still left wanting.

Rising Above the SlopeThe Convenience of Mediocrity

To satisfy this inexplicable urge to accomplish some greater good we must create real change. That of course leaves us wondering, how?

To be honest, I don’t think there is a universal method that applies to everyone. Some create change during a 9-5 job working for ‘the man’ while others become entrepreneurs. Social movements can be started as easily from your bed as they could on the steps of city hall with the use of current technology. Apologies for the cliche but in the end there are many paths that lead to the same destination. However, if you look carefully you’ll find that these paths share commonalities and that the troubles faced along the way are often similar.

Pitfalls: The Difference Between ‘Different’ & ‘Change’

Although I was born in England, I spent most of my years growing up in a New Jersey suburb and attended the state university nearby. Throughout this time I had felt that New Jersey was holding me back and always yearned to break free. The summer before senior year of college I applied for an internship in California, packed my bags, and took a hiatus in the valley.

Before leaving, I had dreamt that this would be my enlightenment period – that a modern day Haight Ashbury Festival would take place and I’d be surrounded by interesting people doing exciting things as soon as I landed. None of this was true and I initially felt no different while in California. I realized that it wasn’t up to California to change me and that I would have to find the catalyst somewhere inside of myself instead. Arduously, I forced each thought to be positive and accepting of new people and new things without judgement. I biked a 30 mile distance in San Francisco with a friend in just one day, met a juggling unicyclist who broadened my definition of talent, had my order taken before a female because the male bartender was homosexual, found love in the form of Cabernet and Merlot in Napa Valley, and began to feel enlightened by life. I was finally becoming the person I had envisioned while back in New Jersey. Not because of California but because of myself.

One of the most common mistakes when trying to create change is to simply replace one thing for another. I replaced New Jersey with California but ultimately the change I needed wasn’t in a zip-code but a behavior of my own. You can’t create change by moving, finding a new girlfriend, widening your circle of friends, or getting a new job. Places, people, and careers can all be different but that doesn’t mean replacing them will result in the change you’re looking for – different does not equal change.

Disruptive Innovation

As anything progresses it inevitably becomes more and more complex thereby providing the opportunity for a newer and simpler solution to emerge. This solution is known as a disruptive innovation because it completely alters the course of advancement and replaces the old method or technology. The theory of disruptive innovation can also be applied to our individual behavior and seen as the root of personal change.

Regardless of which path you take to create change you are essentially looking for disruptive innovations. For years and years I had solidified my conceptions of the world and who I was thereby making it impossible to change. In California, I finally saw that these conceptions were holding me back and forced myself to break them to start anew – I succeeded. Individuals, organizations, and societies all need to look for the patterns and habits that restrict growth and then disrupt them to result in change.

Nirvana – When Enough is Enough

I wanted to end my contribution to this series with a note on achieving ultimate satisfaction. Our quest for change is undoubtedly noble and in many ways necessary but it is also one that can easily become an ugly and bitter obsession. The world has seen more change in the past century or so than in any other that the fact that society simply hasn’t taken a break is shocking. In truth, this is a testament to the collective human spirit and exemplifies society’s obsession with advancement and change. However, we as individuals spend a lifetime growing, learning, and working that we shouldn’t forget to set aside time to look back without regret and look ahead with content before having to say, “Well, that was fun.”

Rikin DiwanAUTHOR BIO: Rikin Diwan is currently working (and living) in Manhattan, working for the press and, on the side, making things happen on his own blog ‘Rikin on the Web‘. Rikin (pronounced Rick-in) was one of the first bloggers I connected with when I launched Life Without Pants earlier this year and since then, we’ve become good friends (although I’ve yet to make a trip to NYC to talk social media and marketing over a few beers). I encourage everyone to check out his blog and connect with him on Twitter.

We Love Eric (The Inconvenience of Change)

Today, I’m making change a little more convenient for you

As we put the spotlight on changing the world and ‘The Inconvenience of Change’ this month at Life Without Pants, I want to use this platform to raise awareness about something that could use a lot of changing – the health-care system in America. Regardless of your political views, it is apparent that their are clear issues with our countries health-care and medicare. People do not deserve to die because they can’t afford to live.

Eric De La Cruz

If you are active on Twitter, you might have noticed a lot of talk about Eric De La Cruz. Eric is 27 years old, resides in Nevada, and is in dire need of a heart transplant. He is dying, currently being kept alive by three different IV’s. Eric has been turned down for a heart transplant list because he is on Nevada Medicaid, and there are no transplant centers in Nevada. Eric needs to go to California under the Medicare Disability program, but has been rejected twice. No one will accept Eric regardless of his medicare because he does not have secondary insurance – no one will cover him because of a pre-existing condition. Basically, no one will transport him because of insurance issues and paperwork. Eric’s life is on the line – and his situation illustrates the overall flaw in American health-care. His sister Veronica is doing everything she can for her brother, but she’s caught up in a web of legal red tape.

Eric does not deserve to die

Eric is a complete stranger to me and you – but think about how you would feel if you were in this situation. Maybe you’ve already dealt with a situation where a friend or family member was turned down because they couldn’t afford a procedure, maybe you know of someone who died because they couldn’t get the right paperwork with the right signatures. If you haven’t dealt with it first hand, I can tell you it’s happening every day in our country.

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame has gotten involved and over the past week, offering fans full VIP treatment for donations of $300 or $1,000 dollars. In a week, Reznor has raised nearly $550,000. Over half a million dollars from people like you and me – illustrating how amazing it is when people come together for the common good. Im urging ALL OF YOU reading this to do SOMETHING. Why? Because Eric (and other people like him) don’t deserve to die. Skip the latte and donate $5 or $10 bucks – we can all spare a LITTLE that will go a LONG way.

What You Can Do

Thank you all for your continued support of the Life Without Pants community. This series (The Inconvenience of Change) has been a humbling and eye-opening experience for me. If nothing else, it’s shown me that I have the ability to inspire others to think outside the box and look within themselves. Take some time to do something selfless this  weekend and be a direct contributor in saving a life.

The World is Interconnected: The Importance of Social Change [Akhila Kolisetty]

Will work for (social) change

We all want to change for the better

Change: it’s something we all want to embrace, but something we tend to shy away from. We all want to change for the better. We read articles about personal development, read self-help books, and try to replace bad habits with goods. We try to make ourselves look slimmer, write better, sound smarter. We all know our flaws and want to overcome them – but why is it so hard to actually make that leap into becoming the person we want to be?

Change is difficult, and it’s cumbersome. When it comes down to it, we are creatures of habit, and we’re driven by our past responses; it’s incredibly hard to change our behavior when we’ve been operating a certain way our whole lives. Social change is the same way. Most of us are not naturally altruistic people: we want to take care of ourselves first, and our close loved ones, before we can think of helping all those other abstract people out there. We’re taught self-preservation rather than altruism. Our ancestors, the hunter-gatherers, had to fend for themselves by killing enemies and taking what they needed to survive. This spirit, this legacy of self-preservation has become a habit, ingrained into us over the years.

But beyond this: why is it so difficult to get some people to care? Why is it hard for us to begin doing simple things daily to go green? Why is it so difficult for more people to volunteer their time on weekends, or donate to a nonprofit? It’s incredibly difficult to make people change their behavior and focus on these types of causes.

Why should you change?

The root of this doesn’t lie in habit, though: it’s something more – lack of understanding of why social change is that necessary. If you were told you were going to die in a year unless you worked at a non-profit, you would join a non-profit as fast as you could. But the thing is: social change is that critical, that important. Not just for those living in poverty or lacking basic civil liberties. Not just for those being helped: but for those doing the helping – all of us.

Why is helping someone thousands of miles away so important? It’s because we are all truly, deeply interrelated. We can’t separate their poverty from our success. My success depends on the success of a farmer in India, or a small entrepreneur in Mali. By making the world better as a whole, I’m improving my own life. By improving the economies of developing countries, we here in the U.S. are finding more emerging markets to export to. By helping Somalia establish a stable government and helping Somalian fishermen, we are preventing piracy attacks on U.S. ships. By educating children in poor areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, we are helping to reduce extremist Islamic ideology that recruits future terrorists. Helping others helps us. Good karma comes back to help you when you need it. This isn’t selfless altruism: it’s the virtue of selfishness.

You and me, we’re in this together now

Most of the world’s greatest leaders in the past have understood how interlinked we all are, and why we have to work towards change:

“I hope you choose to broaden, and not contract, your ambit of concern. Not because you have an obligation to those who are less fortunate, although you do have that obligation. Not because you have a debt to all of those who helped you get to where you are, although you do have that debt. It’s because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation. And because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential – and become full-grown.” - Barack Obama

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Change cannot be ignored

Ultimately, the world is so deeply interconnected that we simply can’t ignore this fact. We all have to work towards social – and environmental change – if we are to save ourselves and leave a better world for our children. The problem is that most people don’t realize how necessary social change is. This lack of understanding about how critical social change is and how it affects us all – is one of the roots of why people are so reluctant to change. If we all realized how deeply improving the world and the lives of others’ improves our own lives and the lives of our children, we would all be taking more action to change the world.

Akhila Kolisetty AUTHOR BIO: Akhila Kolisetty is currently studying abroad at the London School of Economics. Passionate about writing, blogging, political science, entrepreneurship, and human rights, Akhila uses the web and her blog, Justice for All, to raise advocacy and spread awareness. The thing I love most about Akhila’s style is her ability to related ‘complicated’ political and social issues to the everyday reader. By the time you finish reading one of her articles, your equipped to stop thinking and start doing – the mark of a truly great writer and a great human being.