We all live in an ever changing world and we handle change every day. Some changes are imposed upon us by changing circumstances, others we want to make to enrich our lives, some we hunger for, others we battle against – and many we hardly notice as we integrate them into our lives. Recognise natural human reactions to change and make changes work for you.
As we all know from personal experience, the prospect of any change (imposed or self-driven) challenges our feelings of confidence, comfort, competence and control. The catalysts for change are many and varied. Change is both a threat – and a promise. Whatever our present circumstances, at least they are habitual and familiar. Initial resistance, reluctance, to change is natural.
Many changes we take in our stride while some are (initially) awesome to behold. No matter what the scale of change is in prospect – whether it be the small changes we scarcely notice or the awesome changes that strike fear into our hearts – our emotional reactions have the same elements. The Change Roller Coaster Ride is a natural reaction to the prospect of change – we are human, after all. Our Change Roller Coaster rides can be so brief – over in a flash. Sometimes we can spend hours, days, weeks, months and even years wallowing in any one – or more – of the different phases. Such long term wallowing is not my idea of fun and not the most useful of experiences!
Change Roller Coaster Ride – Phases.
When change is in the air, we may experience some anxiety – and then, when the change becomes more solid, we may be happy that – at last – the waiting is over. The change event arrives and our reactions may include Fear, Denial, feeling Threatened – “Oh No! No! No!…” – and the emotions go into turmoil – feelings of Guilt, Threat, Fear, Depression swirl around … “Oh dear, oh crumbs, boo-hoo, eek, ooer…” – Resistance may kick in “NO WAY! Not me!…” – the lowest point when the dark fears wallow – “Oh woe is me!”
Acceptance begins to bubble up – “hmm, just maybe, perhaps …” – and continues to grow – “Yeah, I can work with this” – and you spot those opportunities, you find your way forward and commitment grows “Yep, ok, now then …” … and the change is in your life.
How we actually deal with the transition around any change is as individual as we are. The phases we go through are, however, the same – it’s natural. By being aware of the phases in the process of transition from start to end of any, and all, changes, we may get through the process more effectively. The fearsome changes can be cut down to size – look them in the eye and, amazingly, they can dissolve into pieces which we can handle and work with. The length of time we spend in each phase varies widely. Sometimes, we can run through all phases in the blink of an eye and others, well – it can take a long, hard time.
“Change alone is unchanging” – Heraklietos of Ephesos
Have you ever been caught in the whirlpool of a chosen – or imposed – change? I have. Remember the distressing feelings as the anxieties stirred up and took on monster proportions? I do. Recall disappearing down the drain of distraction – sliding down the transition curve ski-slope, wallowing in the depths of darkness, and then the gritty, clamber up the precipice to get to the other side of the change chasm? I do recall.
The magic, for me, is simply knowing and understanding that my emotional reactions to change are, well, entirely normal, human, natural. Before I realised that, I wasted energy on fighting those reactions. Knowing that the emotional roller coaster is natural (I am human, after all) I feel better about me and the way I’m handling the change. I can redirect my energies to enjoying the ride and getting the best out of the change.
I first saw ‘The Process of Transition’ when I was on a leadership training course. I should have guessed what was coming when I got back to the office, huh?
Know that you will ride the Change Roller Coaster and Take Control. Choose to ride that roller coaster, enjoy the excitement and anticipation – ride it so confidently that you feel like you’ve just hopped over the gap to a different future full of promise, new experiences and potential.
Consider the change as an opportunity for a better future and Make Changes Work for You. Assume that the looming change brings with it opportunities. Maybe see the looming change rather as a doorway to exciting opportunities. Maybe it’s an opportunity to have a go at something fresh and interesting – or just different. Maybe it’s an opportunity to add a new string to your bow – or add more skills to your ever growing portfolio of personal and professional skills. Maybe it’s a launch pad for a new future for you. Maybe you can make even imposed changes be of real value to you!
Look to Your Future – think of your tomorrows, create your desired outcome and drive yourself towards it – get the best result for you.
Be sure to recognise all the good stuff you’ve got, your experiences and skills and resources.
Acknowledge your current reality – truly recognising where you are, knowing where you want to be, you can take control of making steps towards your changing reality.
Choose responsibility for action – where there is a will, there is a way.
How much better it is to experience the excitement of an opportunity, positively anticipating change, recognising the differences between the now and “gonna be”, focusing forward and dealing accordingly. Would you agree?