A great book giving a light-hearted parable about change, by best-selling author, Dr Spencer Johnson. It follows the physical and emotional journeys of four characters – Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw – as they search, find, lose and must rediscover their favourite food, cheese, in a large, twisting maze.
What is “Who Moved My Cheese”?
Cheese is a metaphor for what you want in life – a good job, a loving relationship, money, possessions, health or peace of mind. The maze is where you look for it – the organisation you work for, the family or community you live in. And the problem is that no source of cheese lasts forever. Life changes, whether we like it or not.
Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw’s stories explore the various ways we all respond to this change. Although it’s disarmingly simple, it captures and explores powerful truths that could have been written just for you.
What does it all mean?
When we are searching for a good job, a new relationship, money or possessions, it can feel fantastic when we eventually get them. Those things become cornerstones in our best-laid plans for the future, yet life is constantly changing and sometimes it blocks things we expect, feel we deserve or have worked so long and so hard to accomplish, but because we naturally fear to start again, looking foolish or that we might end up somewhere worse, we often don’t want to change when things begin changing around us. We deny change has arrived or was coming. We get frustrated and start to blame others. We cling to what has been, instead of what simply now is. And the more important the now is, the more desperately we try to hold on to it.
We think more about what could go wrong than what could go right. We let our fears grow out of control then allow those fears to control us, the fact is, like it or not, the world is constantly changing and while not all change is good or necessary it always creates new opportunities, whether we recognise them immediately or not. This is why it’s important to learn how to deal with change. It is why it pays to learn how to adapt to new circumstances.
When change happens, the first thing to realise is that how you react is your choice. The biggest barrier to change is you. The second thing to realise is that the best way to deal with change is to keep things simple, be flexible and move quickly. When change comes along simply change with it.
What to do next
- “Where am I likely to find the best opportunities, fighting this change or embracing it?”
- “What could my life look like if these new circumstances led to something even better than the ones that I’m leaving?”
- “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid I might fail?”
Write down these answers and evaluate each one. Visualise them until the details are almost tangible in your head; until you change what you used to believe. Realise that most of your fears are irrational. Laugh at your previous folly. Let it go, then take action – make things happen rather than letting things happen to you. Take control, even if you worry you’ve waited too long. Recognise that sometimes things change, and they are never the same again and if this is one of those times, that’s life!
Life moves on and if you don’t want to risk going extinct, so must you. The next time that things start to change, reflect on your previous mistakes and don’t let those changes surprise you! Recall that no matter how secure something feels, you should always expect change to happen.
When you expect to happen, you’ll be better placed to monitor and anticipate it early. When you monitor and anticipate change early, you’ll find it easier to adapt to it quickly. When you adapt to change quickly you may find you even enjoy it.
Start to enjoy change and you’ll learn to love testing the edge of your comfort zone. You’ll be ready to embrace change again and again when it happens. You’ll be less stressed, less unhappy and more adaptive than those who resist the inevitable. You’ll shift your focus from losing what once was, to gaining what might someday be and have more time, space and energy to embrace new outcomes that may prove even better than the old ones, also you will enjoy a time-tested path to more success in your life and your work.
“Life is no straight and easy corridor along which we travel free and unhampered, but a maze of passages, through which we must seek our way, lost and confused, now and again checked in a blind alley. But always, if we have faith, a door will open for us, not perhaps one that we ourselves would ever have thought of, but one that will ultimately prove good for us.”