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5 Steps on how to deal with change

Everything is changing so fast!  I hear this comment almost daily.  And the reality of it is, -- it's true!

Sometimes we think that Nantucket affords us the opportunity to have time stand still. Yet, as things change around us, we have both challenges and opportunities that happen with a changing scene.

The changes that we are experiencing today are significantly more than the changes that our forefathers had to embrace.  The world is moving at an extremely fast-pace.  And the illuminating thought, or should I say reality, is that today's pace of change is probably the slowest rate of change we will experience ever again.  Yikes!

And to compound that thought, the second reality is that there is very little any of us can do to slow the rate of change.

Consider these influencing factors:
• technology
• globalization
• pressure on profits
• competition
• more people...
The more changes we have to deal with, the more potential stress we feel.  Our human nature is actually resistant to change.  Most people want predictability, and most people gravitate towards routines.  Therefore, it is somewhat natural to appreciate why many of us hang on to the past, or what worked “last year.”  When we have to change, it is understandable that dealing with it can create stress.

Even positive changes can create stress.  As an example, when someone gets a promotion and has to move to a new city, he or she not only has to deal with all of the changes on the job -- new boss, new responsibilities, new relationships, new knowledge..., his or her family must also deal with the changes involved in uprooting the family -- new schools, new dentist, new places to shop, new friends... And while these are positive, they can still had pressure to a person's home and professional life.

So, if we don't have much hope in changing the rate of change, what CAN we do?

The answer lies in our ability to change ourselves, and the way we handle or react to change.  Because if you can't change something that you don't like, the only other option is for you to change your attitude towards it.

Here are some suggestions:

  • • Seek out the benefits of the changes you are experiencing.  Think about ways you can use those changes to simplify your life or to enhance your work.  Resist fighting the change, and find ways to make it work for you.
  • • Focus on learning or adopting the new change.  The more you focus on “getting through it," the faster you will be able to adopt the change.
  • • Think things through.  When presented with a suggestion for change, look at it as though it is a chess game, when you need to think through the several moves rather than just one.  Many times we create stress by choosing an action, without considering the consequences.
  • • Stay positive.  It is very easy to find fault with recommended changes, or to condemn them.  The more positive you are, the more quickly you will be able to embrace the change, not to mention the impact on your career.  It is always better to be known as a positive person rather than a negative one.
  • • Recognize that changes can be stressful.  Give yourself permission to feel uncomfortable.  Help those around you work through it, and that will help you get through it as well.
  • • Finally, remember to own your own attitude.  The stress you feel is there because you let it in.  By controlling your attitude, and your emotional responses, you will give yourself a better chance of maximizing the power of the changes around you.

Sure, change is uncomfortable.  But it is here to stay.  The people and the companies who seek out and embrace change will be the ones who benefit from it the most.  How about you?

What other tips have helped you or your organization embrace change?