Stuck in the rut? Change your Plan

It’s simple: If you don’t get out of your comfort zone from time to time, you’ll find the world has left you behind. If you don’t change, sooner or later, all growth, personal and professional, will halt. Pranav Dixit explains

brunch Updated: Feb 18, 2012 19:41 IST
Pranav Dixit
Pranav Dixit
Hindustan Times

Stuck in a rut? Ask Microsoft. This year, the company will completely overhaul the Windows operating system to fend off Apple’s iPad and other Tablets and smartphones. Windows division President Steven Sinofsky calls it ‘the biggest change to Windows since Windows 95’.

If a multi-million dollar titan can’t afford to not move with the times, what about you? If you don’t change, sooner or later, all growth, personal and professional, will halt.

"Most of us are averse to change," says Rachna K Singh, lifestyle expert at the Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon. "You need to make a conscious effort to do it."

Ride the flow

Change doesn’t have to be planned. It’s what you do with a chance to change that makes the difference. Author Amish Tripathi, whose book, The Immortals of Meluha, was an unexpected best-seller in 2010, didn’t go looking for change. "Change happened to me," he says. "I was blessed with a story."

BrunchFor Amish, an IIM Calcutta alumnus who worked in the financial service sector, the going was tough initially. "I wasn’t a creative guy," he admits. "I was the quintessential banker – rational, cost-benefit driven and competitive." But when the idea for Meluha came, it became an obsession.

Amish feels the most important thing he did was welcome the change.

"I was at a pretty senior position in my company, the money was good, I had a family to support, etc. But I gave up control and just accepted the change," he says. To date The Immortals of Meluha has sold more than 1,75,000 copies and the movie rights have been sold.

But isn’t leaving your comfort zone risky? "Going with the flow is a misunderstood phrase," says Amish. "You don’t simply float like a boat. You need to think things through." Till his second book, The Secret Of The Nagas, came out, he didn’t quit his job. "I couldn’t tell my family to deal with things because I suddenly wanted to become a writer. That’s not going with the flow, that’s being irresponsible."

Find your purpose

For others, change is a calculated move. Nilanjan P Choudhury, author of Bali and the Ocean of Milk, is a person who joined an NGO after ‘several years of peddling highly overrated software to gullible corporates’. "I joined the Azim Premji Foundation because I was sick of lining MNC pockets and doing little about the problems that confront us as a society," he says.

Personal growth is vital, says Choudhury. You need to rejuvenate periodically. "To me, any change in my life, big or small, gives me a purpose. If you do it passionately, you put that much soul into it."

Get with the rest

As you’ll read when you turn the page, actor Rishi Kapoor just did his first negative role and left us gasping. Like him, if you keep pushing your boundaries, you’ll get there.

The trick, says image guru Dilip Cherian, is to evolve exponentially, so each of your moves enhances the next. Cherian should know. He started as an economic consultant to the government. "But business and money interested me, so I became a business journalist. Finally, I decided I wanted to be a spin doctor, so I started a PR firm," he says.

A desire to do something more with your skills, abilities and time is born of two reasons: reaching a plateau in your professional or personal life or getting an opportunity to do something more interesting than what you are currently doing.

The crucial thing to do is break out of your comfort zone. And that means trying everything new, including social media and the Net.

"I have to make sure I am updated with new sounds and keep up with what’s happening in music," says singer Neha Bhasin. When she kicked off her career with pop group Viva! in 2002, Bhasin was clueless about everything except singing. "But over the years, I have learnt even to make and mix my own music on my laptop and I am not a gadget person at all!" she exclaims. "Every few months, I see new, good people around. So I constantly feel the need to grow a little more, just to stay afloat."

Get moving
Identify exactly what it is about your comfort zone that you need to change
Have a plan – yes, a proper, systematic plan – with goals, deadlines, the works
Get close friends and family in the loop. If your enthusiasm flags, they will push you and get you back on track
Don’t rush – change doesn’t happen overnight. Try steadily pushing the boundaries of your comfort levels and working
towards an overall goal
Once you reach your goal, keep expanding your comfort zone. Set new challenges. Trust us, you’ll never be stuck in a rut again

Tried & tested
Don’t change on a whim. Think it out. “Blind rebellion and simply going against the flow for the heck of it can end in disaster,” cautions Amish, finance professional turned author.
More often than not, getting out of a rut is more about seizing opportunities and managing the changes that happen around you rather than changing yourself.
When you do decide to make a drastic change in your life, keep in mind that keeping it alive requires dedication and time. “You have to put some pain into it or you risk falling back to your old ways after an initial burst of enthusiasm,” says Nilanjan P Choudhury, corporate man turned NGO activist.

From HT Brunch, February 19
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First Published: Feb 18, 2012 14:39 IST