Thought Leadership

Change is good

By Colin Walls

There is an old saying: “A change is as good as a rest.” Although I am sure that it has often been used to avoid giving someone a well-earned rest, it does have some intrinsic truth, in my experience. On more than one occasion, I have been on a very active vacation, with lots of walking etc., where I ended every day physically tired. Yet I came home feeling refreshed and renewed.

Having said all this, most of us are rather resistant to [voluntary] change …

When it comes to vacations, my wife and I often have the discussion: Do we go back to somewhere familiar, which will be relaxing, or somewhere new and interesting? We end up doing a mix. Next year, for example, we are planning a trip where we will spend half the time in a new place and half at a place that we have been to before – good old British compromise. Of course some people stay at home for their vacation – a “staycation” – and avoid change all together.

I was forced to think about change recently, when my car went for its annual safety check. It passed OK, but they identified some work that will be needed soon, which is going to be quite expensive. As the car is 8 years old with 120,000 miles on the clock [it is a diesel, so this is not too bad], I need to watch the costs and decide when enough is enough and replace it. Until recently, replacing the car would have been easy. I like the car that I have, as it addresses our needs very well. So I would simply purchase another one of those. However, they stopped production of the model last year, so I would now need to look for something else. As I am not very interested in cars, this is a change that I do not relish. I think that I will hang on to this one for a bit longer …

For most of us, our home is something of a constant in our lives. I moved to my current house 5 years ago. I had lived in the previous place for a decade – the longest that I have ever lived in one house – but I can barely recall what it was like to live there. The change to a new house in a new town was quite significant, but I feel very at home here. There are people who live in one house all or most of their lives. I often wonder what that lack of change would be like. My mother-in-law has just moved from her house to an “assisted living” facility, which is a big change for her, but she seems to be settling there very well. So, some people can cope with change when they are in their 80s – whereas others seem to be stressed by any break in routine at a much younger age.

Changes that appear to be quite small can still be stressful. I am a committee member at my camera club – I look after membership administration. Recently, it was suggested that I take on a new role and have someone else take over my present one. My initial reaction was to resist the change. I had spent a couple of years building systems and defining procedures to manage a rapidly growing membership. Handing that over would be hard. But then, a little voice inside me said that a change might actually be interesting. A new role would stretch me in different ways. So, why not?

Another recent, apparently small change was moving from Windows to Mac. As computers are so significant to my lifestyle, this was not a trivial step. However, now that I have come out the other side, I can clearly see that some change is definitely good!

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at