There is this famous quote “The only thing constant is change” and the hilariously funny part about this quote is that the credit of authoring/coming up with this quote itself seems to have changed over the course of time. If you don’t believe me, Google this quote and you will see some sources which credit it to Francois de la Rochefourcauld, a French author whereas other sources credit to Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher. Irrespective of who actually quoted it, the fact remains that change truly is the only constant we have in our lives.

All of life is a constant chain of actions and reactions, causes and effects, and while most of the actions and causes are somewhat in our control, the subsequent reactions and effects are not so. The best laid plans can work out the various permutations and combinations of possible variances which affect the reactions given the set of circumstances in which actions are taken, but life invariably proves to be ‘smarter’ than these best laid plans and almost always brings into play that one unaccounted for variable, the probability of which is 1 in 100, and ends up with an unanticipated reaction to the action.

Case in point, till around 1992 the way One Day cricket was played was that the openers would ‘see off’ the new ball and wait until it lost a bit of its shine before launching into attacking the bowlers and generally followed the classical style of batting followed in the longer version of the game. But all this changed when a young Sachin Tendulkar was promoted to open the batting for India in the 1992 World Cup held in Australia & New Zealand. Almost from the first over itself, Sachin took it upon himself to attack the new ball and make full use of the fielding restrictions. And did that change in style pay rich dividends or what. In fact, so much so that the New Zealand opener, Mark Greatbatch also adopted a similar aggressive style of batting that he also ended up giving his team some explosive starts in this tournament. Whether it was his confidence in his abilities, or the brash aggression of his youth, or a careful planned out combination of both, the fact remains that this move of Tendulkar went a long way in beginning his ascent as one of the all time great limited overs batsmen that the game of cricket has ever seen.

The above was just one example of how change, if well thought-out, adequately planned, appropriately prepared for and embraced with some degree of flexibility can go a long way in enhancing our lives in general, and other specific aspects.

Now, the next question that comes to all of us is when the ‘change’ to be made is relatively ‘major’ in nature, are we better off making it in ‘one shot’ or do we use the technique of making numerous ‘minor’ changes incrementally and gradually achieving our targeted end state.

While my opinion is that there is no one single right way of embracing change, I personally have found it more effective when change is made in a ‘single shot’, at least in most cases. For example, when I had to quit smoking, I tried changing the habit in smaller incremental installments. From 20+ cigarettes a day, I reduced the number to 10+ and then to 5+ with a decent degree of success. But once I had reached that number, I hit a stonewall. To come down to no cigarettes from 5 a day proved to be next to impossible, so much so that at times I reverted to the older higher number of around 10 cigarettes a day. And then finally I adopted the other method, the ‘single shot’ method, and went completely ‘cold turkey’ one fine day and I haven’t smoked a cigarette since.

My quitting smoking using this method was just one instance where the ‘single shot’ adoption of change has worked for me. Other instances include me cutting off relationships with ‘toxic people, making lifestyle changes in terms of diet, giving up on long standing completely unrealistic, unattainable goals, etc, and in all of these cases this method has worked well for me in terms of me achieving closure and moving on with life.

Having said that I am not saying that the incremental method of adopting change is bad, or that it doesn’t work. It has worked perfectly well for a lot of people I know in their personal and professional lives. It’s just that it requires a fair degree of patience, a lot of single-mindedness, dedication and motivation to keep one’s eye on the final goal and constantly keep taking conscious steps in that direction.

I would love to know what method of adopting change works well for you folks. Do you think ‘single shot’ is better or would you rather make smaller ‘incremental changes’ to achieve your target end state?


This post is written for WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.

Today’s prompt was “You need to make a major change in your life. Do you make it all at once, cold turkey style, or incrementally?”

13 thoughts on “Ch-ch-ch-change

  1. Taking small steps towards change is better than taking a leap towards it cause otherwise it would seem like a
    My small changes are exercising a few minutes each day with the hope that I would’nt mind doing a big chunk after some time and not find it a burden since might have developed resistance towards it.

    • @Ruchira, if you are able to stick to the routine of exercising a few minutes each day and then increase it gradually, then yes, incremental changes are working for you, at least in this case

  2. For me going cold turkey has usually meant a short lived change – I invariably break down and bounce back to old habits. However small changes don’t tire me out and have a tendency to stick 🙂

  3. I think any change that is not driven by your heart and mind will fail, no matter whether it was incremental or disruptive. And, in my experience, the greatest motivator is usually the change itself. Like, when trying to lose weight, one tends to work harder as soon as one starts seeing the results.

    • @Rickie, that is so true, unless the heart and the mind are completely focused on the change that is planned for, it really doesn’t matter whether it is a sudden disruptive change or incremental change

  4. Good observation, Sir ! Well, it depends on the kind of change. Some changes can be implemented in a single shot, while some need the incremental efforts 🙂 Smoking, as you said might work in a single shot, but learning a new habit ( which is also a change ) might need to be done step-by-step. Especially if it is like cultivating love for something. Such changes happen over time. And when they do, they last for a long time 🙂

  5. it depends really on what the change is.
    I gave up on sodas cold turkey. decided one day to stop drinking pepsi, coke etc and stopped.
    Haven’t had a sip in almost 2 yrs now.

    Other things take time.. like attitude changes, diet, giving up toxic people.. all this took time.

  6. Sometimes, ‘single shot’ is better. In most cases, ‘incremental change’ is better. In a few situations, ‘incremental change’ followed by ‘single shot’ is needed, like how you quit smoking.

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