Life is change, but life is also continuity. Some of us identify more with the idea of continuity while others of us embrace change. There are elements of continuity throughout our life cycles—even change is continuous. Many people long for continuity, at least regarding their families, the stability of their living situations and the health of those they love. We want our families to continue to remain connected, our work to remain relatively predictable and our children, if we have children, to continue their progress into adulthood in a smooth and relatively continuous way. But we are all getting older, and aging is synonymous with change.
But some people crave change. Change is exciting, change brings new challenges and different experiences. While some changes are difficult and overwhelming, a lot of the changes we experience are positive, joyful and filled with growth. Some of us even long for change, instigate it and embrace it when it happens. Change seems to be most obvious and most accelerated at the beginning and end of life. The rate of change we experience from birth to adulthood seems parallel to the rate of change we experience between ages 60-80 or 90. In contrast, change in our twenties, thirties, forties and fifties seems relatively evenly paced—at least for many of us.
We may experience periods of 5 years, 10 years or more when things in our lives seem relatively stable and continuous. Yes, our children are growing rapidly, but we may experience many of the changes in our personal lives as relatively gradual. Our marriages are usually stable, our work is steady or continues in a pattern of growth and stability, and our physical health is usually relatively unchanged. Most of us long for elements of both continuity and change in our lives. Life often changes our plans and some of us are better at adapting to change than others. Whether change is chosen or unchosen, people who embrace change are prepared to make the best of it—whether the change is positive, disorienting or distressing.
It is useful to understand ourselves in relation to the concepts of change and continuity. Understanding ourselves can help us develop strategies that will help us cope with both desired changes and changes that are thrust upon us. Whether we are fans of change or not, ultimately change will prevail over continuity in our lives, but continuity is also available to be valued and cherished. Let’s share our thoughts and experiences with one another around change and continuity.
- Do you have a clear preference for change over continuity? Or continuity over change?
- Which have you experienced more of in your own life?
- How well do you feel that you cope with change? What types of change are easiest (most comfortable) for you? What types of changes are most difficult?
- How prepared do you feel for the changes coming toward you as you age?
- What are the benefits and disadvantages of change? Of continuity?