We all know them: country hoppers. Those who just can’t get enough of moving around the world. These people who, once they get to know what it’s like to live far away from “home”, get addicted to it. They are the exact opposite of the “average” person – the status quo makes them bored. Change doesn’t scare them, they strive on it. But wait? Is it really like that? Not necessarily. Maybe change – the constant moving – has become the status quo for them. It is simply not scary anymore, because it’s nothing new for them.
What does that have to do with you? Everything. If you want to become somebody who embraces change, then you need to make change a habit. The brain constantly monitors the environment for changes. When it detects something unknown, it automatically activates “fight or flight” mode. Rational thinking stops and our unconsciousness takes over. Decision-making becomes a mess.
Seek change purposely – for instance by moving from country to country – and this particular type of change is not unknown territory anymore. Your brain doesn’t need to put itself in alert mode. But this doesn’t mean that you can get used to “change” in general. Only because somebody is a country hopper, it doesn’t mean that she is good at adapting to a big shift in her family life. However, it does mean that she will learn how to adapt to new cultures more easily. And yes, this doesn’t necessarily have to be national culture. It could easily refer to corporate culture, family culture or the culture of IT professionals.
Obviously if you want to make change a daily habit, you don’t have to move from country to country every few years. But you do have to find ways of leaving your comfort-zone every single day. Every day, find things that you usually wouldn’t do and just give it a try. If you are a shy person, just approach somebody randomly on the street. If you usually spend most of your time reading, take some improv comedy classes instead. It really doesn’t matter what new behavior you are practicing.
The point is to bring change to your daily life. Just like the prisoner who stretches himself to reduce the pain that he will face, you can stretch yourself by using daily exercises of small changes; they will prepare you for bigger changes that will await you in the future.
The next step is to turn change into something strategic. Yes, just like you would have a strategy for change in an organization, you as a person can have a strategy for change as well. You probably already have a personal vision – an image of who you want to be in the future – and your strategy of change should be integrated with that vision. Ask yourself: what changes do I need to overcome in order to become the person I want to be?
Country hoppers might have the goal to become “global minds” – people who cross cultures. While they will never be able to learn something about every culture in the world, by putting themselves into new environments on a regular basis, they become far more culturally flexible and adaptable. They learn the rules of an unfamiliar culture more quickly and without as much stress as someone who moves to a different country for the first time. Sure, they might not call this “a strategy for change”, but it is not much different than that.
So, what is your personal vision? How do you want to achieve it? What changes are necessary in your life to achieve your goals? How can you make these changes part of your daily habits? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comment section!