How to Embrace Change, but Still Stand for Something

Being a professional writer, regardless of the medium, is in its own way about embracing change – the changes editors, producers, executives, publishers demand in your work – yet still standing for something – your personal vision.

For many writers this paradox is unsolvable. But we kinda like the following practical approach:


by Robert C. Pozen

Imagine that an electric company wants to build a loud, ugly power line on your property. They ask, “How much would we need to pay you to make this happen?” You’d probably demand a lot of money. Now imagine that that power line already exists on your property. How much would you pay the electric company to get rid of it? Would you pay the same amount—or less?

Most people insist on a larger payment to build the power line than they’d be willing to pay for its removal. This difference is an illustration of status quo bias, a cognitive trait most people share. When presented with a potential change, we usually weigh the potential losses more heavily than the potential gains. This tendency is completely understandable. Unfortunately, it can also prevent you from getting ahead.

Change is ubiquitous in most facets of our lives. On a basic level, you will likely change jobs more often than you might predict. In a recent study, the Bureau of Labor statistics found thatthe average person in their sample held eleven jobs between the ages of 18 and 46—meaning a job-switch once every 2.5 years.

In the broader world, economic, demographic, and technological changes are forcing us all to cope with change whether we want to or not. The financial crisis of 2008 was not some once-in-a-lifetime event; rather, it was one of six financial crises since 1986. On a longer time scale, an aging population has slowed economic growth in Japan and Russia; a growing population has played a key role the impressive economic ascendance of countries such as Brazil and China. Meanwhile, computing power has consistently grown over the past thirty years, changing the way that people shop, learn, and socialize, while also making business logistics much more efficient.

So how can you take advantage of a rapidly changing world? You shouldn’t set your career path in stone, or else you’ll be tremendously vulnerable to external events beyond your control. At the same time, if you blow whichever way the wind blows, you’ll get blown over. So how do you embrace change, while still standing for something?

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