The only constant is change, yet we often fear, dread, or fight change. It’s a natural tendency since, as a species, we tend to be wary of threats to our wellbeing, and change is just as likely to bring challenge as opportunity.
In addition, we have a certain change style, where our affinity and comfort with change ranges from low to high. Conservers prefer to take a measured and incremental approach to change, whereas Originators like rapid and broad change. In the middle are Pragmatists who prefer change that is practical and effective. Each style has its advantages and disadvantages; respect for and understanding of our own and others’ change styles can help change occur more smoothly and effectively.
We do not always have the luxury of the pace and extent of change matching our change style. Often change is faster or slower, broader or narrower, than our comfort would dictate. When change is not under our control, it will feel challenging. As with any challenge, I use my main Go To Tools to help turn that challenge into an opportunity:
- Be mindful and present – Plan for the future but don’t dwell on it. Worrying about the future creates anxiety. The present moment elicits neither sadness, regret, nor anxiety.
- Take care of yourself first – Rest, exercise, a healthy diet, and time for play are good antidotes to stress.
- Reflect – Change is scary. Acknowledge your fear, anxiety, distress, or sadness. Feel it. Put a name to it. Feel it some more. Then let it dissipate.
- Identify and challenge your belief or schema – What is the belief that is causing your emotion? If it’s a negative emotion, then name and challenge your belief or schema. Introduce doubt into that belief. If it’s a positive emotion, then savor and amplify your optimism.
- Identify the downside of the status quo – What’s bad about maintaining the current situation? What opportunities will pass you by if you resist change? What damage can occur by failing to grow?
- Find a positive perspective – Your negative feelings result from focusing on the worst-case scenario. Instead, consider what is the best possible outcome. Imagine it in full detail. What does it look like? How does it feel? What did you learn? How did you grow? What is the pathway to this outcome? What challenges might you encounter, and how would you surmount them? What would your future self, who is enjoying this positive outcome, say to your current self? Say it to yourself. Repeat as necessary.
- Identify your strengths – Given this ideal outcome, identify what strengths (either StrengthsFinders or VIA) that you can use to achieve this outcome and surmount those obstacles. Make a plan.
- Identify your support – Who can help you on this journey? Maybe you need a sounding board, a sage, a playmate, a home team, a cheerleader. Enlist their support, and be specific about what you need from them. Continue to communicate with them so they understand what their roles are as the situation evolves.
Now, go get ‘em! You have a positive future, go create it!