Susan Riley | February 2016

Episode 42: Why is Change So HARD?

Whenever you’re faced with a new situation or an unfamiliar circumstance, what do you do?  Embrace the new, or stall as long as you can until you get a sense of your bearings?

Personally, I’m a staller.  Don’t get me wrong…I actually love change.  I rearrange my office every couple of months. If I feel as though I’m getting a little stale, I book a trip to try and get myself out of a rut.  And don’t even get me started on job changes!  I’ve had a new “career” every 5 years or so.

But even with what looks like a high tolerance for change, I still struggle with dipping my toe out of my comfort zone. I still like to have complete control over the change itself.  That’s just it: I like to CONTROL the change.  And I bet you do too.

Do you know how I know that?  It’s a research-proven fact.

Humans don’t like change unless they feel as though they have some control over either the process or the outcome. Maybe that’s why change is so hard for so many of us.  Because change doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  Often, it happens when we least expect or want it.

And because using arts integration, STEAM or the creative mindset all require us and our students to change the very nature of the teaching and learning cycle, it’s little wonder that the shift is so slow and so challenging.  Why can’t we get people on board with us?  Because it involves change that hits one of these big nerves, as shared by Harvard Business Review:

  1. Loss of control
  2. Lots of uncertainty
  3. It happens as a surprise
  4. We’re changing for the sake of change
  5. We’re concerned about our ability to actually make the change
  6. It means more work
  7. There is a real threat to us or our livelihood

In today’s episode, we’re dissecting these big 7 reasons for change resistance and what baby steps we can all take to move past them.


Here’s a list of links that I referenced in today’s show that shows reasons for change:

Ten Reasons People Resist Change from the Harvard Business Review

How Art Creates Social Change – 5 TED Talks you Need to Hear

Art Works for Change – using art as a mirror

David Bowie’s Changes

What are some changes you are being asked to make? What’s the challenge and how are you working through these reasons for change?  

About the Author

Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, STEAM, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education. Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter. Email Susan