Change: Short-Term Pain for Long-Term Gain

After another brutal tax season—digging up records for his CPA, trying to recall expenditures and hunt down old receipts, etc.—Bob vowed, “Never again!”

He went online and purchased some money management software, thinking, “Next year, I want to be able to push a button and easily generate all kinds of accurate, detailed reports.”

Last night, however, after a call to customer support, an exasperated Bob shut his laptop in disgust and said, “I wasted my money…it’s taking forever to get this program working the way I want!”

Here’s the reminder Bob needs: When it comes to change, the first step often feels like you’re going in reverse. There’s always a learning curve.

This is when our “old school” system—as frustrating as it’s been—seems preferable to the new-fangled “improvement” we’re trying to implement. At this point, it’s tempting to throw up our hands in frustration.

But remembering the stages that change requires can give perspective and help us stay the course. The eight common stages of change are:

  • Dissatisfaction. You’re so DONE with the status quo, and you are ready for things to be different (This is Bob saying, “I can’t do this again next year!”)
  • Contemplation. You imagine how much better your life could be. “Hmmm. Stephen raves about his experience with Quicken. Maybe that program could work for me too?” 
  • Consultation. You ask around, read product reviews on line, and do all the necessary research.
  • Action. You make a selection and cross your fingers.
  • Implementation. Yikes! Installation and orientation are NOT as seamless as everyone said. The manual is hard to understand…and “No offense to this generic chat bot, but could I maybe speak to a HUMAN BEING?”)
  • Dissatisfaction. Until Bob works out the kinks and learn the features of the new software, he realizes he still has to keep up with his old paper system too. It’s not less work, it’s more! “Whose dumb idea was this anyway!?” he mutters.
  • Decision. Here’s the proverbial fork in the road. Are you going to turn back or press ahead? Studies show that most people who throw in the towel had unrealistic expectations about the transition. They didn’t anticipate the discomfort of a learning curve. Meanwhile, those who begin with an understanding that there will be a time of adjustment are less likely to quit. 

It sounds to me like Bob is at this decision point. My advice to him would be keep at it. I believe if he does, he’ll get to enjoy the final stage, which is…

  • Celebration. By pushing through this initial, uncomfortable—but temporary—transition period, Bob can get to the place he daydreamed about: a more efficient and effective money management system.

Facing a similar adjustment of some kind? Wanting to turn back? Don’t. Press ahead. A little discomfort now will be worth all those good benefits later.

Argent Advisors, Inc. is an SEC-registered investment adviser. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please See Important Disclosure Information here.

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