Your Ticket To Change

“Acceptance of prevailing standards often means
we have no standards of our own.”
— Jean Toomer

What Does It Take?

photo of admission ticketsFor most of us, the ticket to positive change is some amount of pain or dissatisfaction with the status quo. The degree of pain that precedes taking action will influence whether we consider that change to be proactive or reactive — a change initiated by choice or due to necessity.

What is the threshold of discomfort that it takes to motivate you to make a change for the better?

Your Own Traffic Signal

photo of yellow traffic lightMy friend, Mike, a healthcare executive with a proclivity toward outspokenness, commented to me that this trait of his was an asset yet also a liability that at times found him on the edge of a corporate cliff, flapping precariously. What helped him adapt his behavior more advantageously was outlining the signs of what we named “red flag situations” vs. “yellow flag situations”.

A similar metaphor can be applied as you consider your personal threshold for change. If a red light signals an urgent scenario where change is an uncomfortable necessity and a green light represents a more relaxed and confident kind of change, then yellow becomes the optimal combination of discomfort/comfort that can produce great outcomes.

Here are some examples from real people:

  • A manager who worked in a paper intensive industry felt hemmed in and disorganized by the many files in her office: a rising river that was about to flood. Now her yellow light goes on when the files are at a much lower water level. This simple yet significant change of lowering her threshold for the amount of clutter she tolerates has resulted in a higher standard of organization and an easier ability to focus.

  • Tim had wanted to change careers for years now and had grown to dislike his job more and more every day. Two weeks ago he was fired. He is mostly relieved, though, and fortunately, he paid attention to earlier signs of dissatisfaction and started a part time job on the side two years ago in order to pursue his interest with another company. He is now well positioned to expand his role there.

  • When Brenda had an honest conversation with her friend of 19 years about some hurtful behavior she had previously accepted, she knew her relationship standard had been raised. It’s now easier for her to address conflict at the yellow light level and she’s become a more direct communicator.

  • After the scare of John’s heart attack he lost 30 pounds and has learned to slow down the pace of his life when needed. It no longer takes a red light event for him to pay attention to his health.

Lower Your Threshold, Raise Your Standard

Lowering your personal threshold of discomfort does not require you to adopt a hair-trigger reaction time or to dwell on your discontent. You can be appreciative of all you have in the very moment of raising your standards.

This Week’s Call to Action:

  • Where have you been settling? Specify the threshold of discomfort to consciously lower. In doing so, what is the standard you have just raised?

  • What action is required to uphold your new standard?

“Any time you sincerely want to make a change,
the first thing you must do is to raise your standards.”
— Anthony Robbins

Here's to you,
Ginny Kravitz's signature

See Also: Is Pressure Your Paradigm? and It’s Okay To Want More

© 2011, Virginia M. Kravitz and In the Current®. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to reproduce this article provided it is without any alteration, includes the copyright above, and if distributing electronically includes a link to

link to In the Current website