Is Your “Status Quo” Important In Your Life Right Now? | ACADEMIC.EXPERT

Is Your “Status Quo” Important in Your Life Right Now?

“Maintaining the status quo” is from the Latin…”keeping things as they are.”

As the Oxford English Dictionary explains, “status quo” (Latin for “the state in which”) showed up in the fifth century in the writings of Augustine of Hippo (St. Augustine), and was “probably extrapolated from in statu quo” (in the state in which). Here’s more on this >>> History of “Status Quo”

My Story & My Personal Status Quo

Most often, referring to the “status quo” refers to or implies a static “place in time” we are in, in regards to various aspects of our lives. For example, the status quo can refer to our relationship status. Mine is, at this point in time, single.

One’s status quo also has a potential dynamic element—that is, whether or not we are looking to or accept changes to that state. (Are you happy with your personal status quo? If not, why are you “stuck”?)

I am independently employed as an educational mentor and tutor, and as a writer. (Yes, I am the author of this blog!)

My choice of residence, currently in Arizona, as well as my relationship status and employment status (to some degree) are in varying degrees of a “status quo” that may be up for potential change.

But, here is how I can relate to many of you and the decisions you are facing. That is deciding to change…or deciding to not change…or just not knowing.

I have goals – personal and professional. I struggle knowing when to “pull the trigger” on an action or implementation of a plan or to “stand pat.” I understand the struggle that others go through as well. It is probably part fear, part lack of planning or simply needing the push to “just do it.”

Such is the nature of the status quo. It is a good thing to have these struggles, as opposed to just accepting things the way they are.

As we all know, the status quo is a known quantity. Or, is it?

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Is it Good or Bad to Want to Maintain the Status Quo?

Does it seem as if the dynamic state of life in today’s world implies that everyone is looking or able to make impactful changes in their lives?

While it would seem that if you believe what you read, that everyone is renting a U-Haul to move to Montana, to some degree this is true.

It might seem as if everyone is changing jobs every other week. One might also believe that most people are engaged in new relationships every other weekend. (This one might be more true than we think!)

When considering both the day-to-day path of one’s life, as well as plans for decades into the future, people historically tend to maintain their own personal status quo, all other things being equal. Is this still the optimal way to consider that path of our lives?

In many ways, this was a phrase that implied stability. If we maintained the status quo in our lives, then we kept on “with what works” or we never took unnecessary risks or, in other words, we didn’t want to “rock the boat.”

This applied to our personal lives, with our family, with our jobs or careers, our involvement with our religion; in short, the fabric of our lives.

Times change—and they have been changing for at least a decade.

The days of having one employer for life are long gone. Sometimes this is due to our own choices or to circumstances beyond our control.

We outgrow our homes. Sometimes we have to downsize. Sometimes divorce changes our lives permanently.

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Covid and the Structural Implications of the Status Quo

The last several years have seen world-wide impacts to our lives, our societies and, many would say, to the socio-political makeup of our representative republic.

Change isn’t always a binary concept—being either good or bad. No, change just “is.”

There is no better example of that than the light-speed survival-based changes to the fast-food or what is now called the “casual fast food” industry.

The “good ol’ days” are simply gone in many cases. It is the nature of change.

Read this—Fast Food & Covid

Family businesses that have existed through generations are gone. Fortunes have been lost. Entire industries have or are absorbing shock waves of change.

(For example, automation in the fast-food business has been on the horizon but now, it is here and much sooner than anticipated. How will this impact the availability of entry-level jobs?)

Transformation of Our Personal Status Quo

There is no doubt that Covid has been transformational. But, is it all bad?

It is true that, in the past, many people stuck with an employer for decades and retired. That is going to be very rare and at least partially due to the dynamics of the business world now.

Most of us aren’t going to live in the same city or state our entire adult lives. Most of us will repeatedly change jobs. Many of us will go back to school or may never stop going to school.

The definition of “status quo” has to change to something more akin to “continuous life evaluation and action when necessary.”

Many, or even most, people are not comfortable with this. They need consistency and unchanging routines. I simply don’t see life being like that anymore.

The real message of this blog post has to do with you and me and how our individual view of status quo has changed, or needs to change, permanently.

This IS my point. We MUST take ownership of circumstances that might have seemed out of our control in the past.

But, aren’t some circumstances outside of our personal scope of control? Probably not as much as we would like to tell ourselves. Is that too harsh? Well, too bad. Again, this IS the world we are in now.

Example 1: “I can’t believe I just got laid off. Things have been getting slower at work, but no one works harder than I do. It isn’t fair.”
Example 2: “I am 32 years old. I love my engineering job. Three years ago, there were rumors that we were going to team up with Russian and French companies. We were told today that the merger is happening soon, but my job is no longer needed.”

In both of these cases, could the outcomes have been anticipated? I don’t know. Maybe the point is that we can not anticipate every possible outcome. However, we can put ourselves in a position of being, so called, cross-trained or perhaps better said agile.

How do we do that?

  • Learn a foreign language
  • Stay physically fit to enable yourself to be mentally fit
  • Actively pursue skill improvement in your field
  • Listen to business podcasts and pay close attention to those somewhat related to your career choice
  • Listen to podcasts that relate to areas of personal and professional interest

The New Status Quo is “No Status Quo”

In both of these cases, at some level this may not be ”fair,” but these two individuals should have seen this coming and taken ACTION.

Can you blame them for not taking action? They were confident in the status quo being maintained.

Status Quo Bias & Why We Don’t Break Loose

What are the real reasons that we are drawn to, or into, the status quo? The status quo represents a kind of stasis. We believe that there is a kind of “order to the universe” that gravitates around the status quo.

So, when circumstances cause this stasis to shift “off of its axis,” we believe natural forces WILL bring it back into stasis WITHOUT any action on our part.

We are used to thinking—“We always go through these cycles. Things will even out. The factory will reopen like it always has in the past. This is not the time to overreact.”

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Usually, the most important reason why we adhere to our status quo is because those who have succeeded or profited under the current status quo find it extraordinarily difficult to “change horses in midstream.”

The Status Quo: Accept or Reject in Our Personal Lives

It is not inappropriate to disregard the status quo in our lives. However, we need to not fear change, even when things are going well.

  • Read the tea leaves.
  • Develop a network of mentors where you can get honest opinions.
  • Don’t be afraid to move across the country, for example, if it is the right long-term move for you and your family.
  • Date and propose to that young lady who lives 1,000 miles away, because it is the RIGHT thing to do for you regardless of the outcome. Don’t defer to someone else who says long-distance relationships cannot work. Because they can, and this is a change perhaps to your status quo for which you will never get a second chance.
  • Take that second job in order to build up that savings account in order to make that move that you think you might need to.
  • Decide to go to law school even though you just had your 50th birthday. You have always wanted to do this. (Read this >>> 89 Year Old Earns Doctorate in Physics)

When we decide to begin to be aware of our surroundings and take ownership, that does not mean we will have automatic successes. The more we act, the more failures we will experience.

But, here is the good news! You will learn how to weigh options intelligently. You will get used to the process of determining when to stand pat and when to change and how to take calculated risks.

The world is changing too fast to leave our outcomes to chance.


About the Author:

Joe has 30+ years' experience as a developer, technical lead and manager of large scale defense, avionics and private sector programs. His work with youth includes six years as a private teacher and tutor focusing on STEM material. He is also a published technical author, conference presenter and technical team trainer.

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