The book is a parable in which two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two "little people," Hem and Haw, search for cheese in a maze. It illustrates the way one reacts to major changes in one's work and life, and typical reactions to those changes.
The two mice, Sniff and Scurry, exhibit a simplistic approach to finding cheese in a maze, without overthinking or becoming frustrated.
In contrast, the little people, Hem and Haw, rely on strategies and overthinking, resulting in confusion and depression when unsuccessful.
When Hem and Haw found a vast amount of cheese at a cheese station, they became reliant on it, and their lives revolved around it, mirroring how people can become too dependent on their success.
It is healthier to adopt a more straightforward approach like Sniff and Scurry, and avoid becoming too attached to your achievements like Hem and Haw.
One day Hem and Haw found their cheese station empty, they were unable to cope and kept returning to the station, growing increasingly hungry, depressed, and weak. They were reluctant to move on because they became arrogant from their success and felt they deserved more cheese because of their hard work. They couldn't accept the reality that the cheese was gone and moaned, “Who moved my cheese?”
Sniff and Scurry, on the other hand, kept an eye out for any changes to the supply of cheese and adapted when they realized their cheese station was dwindling. They did not dwell on their predicament and quickly found another cheese station.
Be prepared for change and don't get attached to the status quo because good situations don't last forever.
Hem and Haw were too fearful to explore new paths in the maze, and instead resorted to futilely smashing down walls to find food. Eventually Haw started to picture himself sitting on a giant block of cheese and this motivated him to start finding another cheese station.
One way to motivate yourself to tackle your fears is through visualization. It involves visualizing yourself attaining your goals in vivid detail. This will increase your desire to take action.
The fear of beginning a new journey is understandable -- there's unpredictability and the rules are new -- but we need to overcome it to progress.
Haw found the courage to move on and learned that fear is usually more intense in your mind than in reality. Haw's journey eventually led him to another cheese station, where he found plenty of cheese.
During Haws journey, he carved two messages on the walls for encouragement:
"If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct"
"What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?"
Hem remained paralyzed by the fear of venturing out. He stayed at the empty cheese station frustrated and malnourished.
Moving in a new direction can help you conquer your fears and improve your situation.
You might still find yourself in a "cheeseless" situation on some of your new ventures, but there is always new cheese to be found. By stepping outside your comfort zone, you can find new opportunities for joy and success.
The more risks you take, the less fearful and more confident you become.
Despite finding the new cheese station, Haw continued to explore the maze, searching for other stashes after learning from his experience.
Haw wrote on the largest wall he could find the lessons he's learned:
Change happens: They keep moving the cheese
Anticipate change: Get ready for the cheese to move
Monitor change: Smell the cheese often so you know when it's getting old
Adapt to change quickly: The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese
Change: Move with the cheese
Enjoy change: Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese
Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again: They keep moving the cheese
One day, Haw heard someone approaching his station and hoped that it might be his friend Hem.