Ever caught yourself complaining that there's too much change?
Sitting tight through a restructure or another round of redundancies?
The only constant is change - this is true now more than ever, where change such as restructures, redundancies, outsourcing, insourcing, RIFs, 'right-sizing' and all the other euphemisms are the #newnormal. This does not even account for the constant changes that happen in our personal lives - marriage, children, divorce, illness, retirement, death, buying or selling a house, relocations, financial pressures; you name it - we are barraged with change.
Because of all this, I believe resilience is the most critical skill to develop to become more comfortable with change, to be able to embrace it, and all that life has to throw at us.
"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude" Maya Angelou
Resilience is the process of adapting to stress, trauma, adversity, threats, tragedy - whether from family or relationships issues, or health, workplace and financial stresses. You may have heard of or worked with the Change Curve - a theoretical rollercoaster of emotions we feel as we come to terms with change, loss or grief. The Change Curve is used in business and change management, and is frequently attributed to psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross resulting from her work on bereavement and grief. In brief, the Change Curve runs through 4 key stages:
- Shock / Denial - "This can't be happening!"
- Anger / Fear - "This is NOT going to happen!"
- Acceptance - "OK - this is happening;"
- Commitment - "OK - let's make this happen!"
We all move through the curve at our own pace, but the key to being resilient is being able to scoot through stages 1 and 2 in a healthy way.
Personally, I have been through many changes in my life, and a lot just in the last 12 months. Generally speaking, I have managed to get through it in tact, facing them with courage, and I put it down to these steps that I have honed over years of restructures, relocations, job changes, and personal challenges:
1. Analyse It
How does it serve me, and how can I serve i.e. how can I add value?
How does it 'feel'? Don't be afraid to tap into your intuition - if it doesn't feel good, it probably isn't.
Is what's happening aligned to my values? Can I support it in all conscience?
And if you can't change it, as Maya Angelou says,...
2. Reframe it
...change your attitude. You can't always change the circumstances, but you can change your response; and in all honesty, how is that anger or fear you're holding useful? As the saying goes,
"Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."
"Accentuate the positive; eliminate the negative." Work hard to focus on a positive outcome or the pros, rather than the cons of the situation. Reframing to find the positive in a situation is a critical skill.
Every day, while you are getting used to a change include in your morning routine a mantra or affirmation like "I choose happiness", because it's true - happiness is a choice. There is real power in positive psychology.
3. Create the Conditions for Success
What else could you be doing to create conditions for success? Is there something you could be doing differently or better to make the situation work best for you?
4. Let Go
Don't hold so tightly onto the familiar. You do this purely because it is comfortable. Learn to be comfortable with the unknown. You can create the conditions for success, but learn that you cannot control everything. Let it go
5. Find or Create Opportunities
Sometimes it might seem you have to hunt hard, however the opportunities are there. By understanding fully the business or the situation and all its challenges, opportunities appear; and if they don't - create them! Be creative at this point - ask "What if we did...? instead of "We can't do..."
6. Be Brutally Honest with Yourself
If you feel fear or resistance to change, dig deep and ask yourself "Why?" What's blocking you from accepting the change? Is it really the change that is causing you anxiety or is it another underlying fear?
7. Have Confidence, Not Fear
Be confident in yourself - your values, strengths, who you are and what you stand for. These are your moral compass - all decisions come easily when you hold these close, untouchable and non-negotiable.
By applying these steps, you will be able to embrace change and improve your resilience, quickly bouncing back from shock, denial, anger and fear to capitalise on the opportunities that present themselves.
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