Change is inevitable – everybody knows that. Some of you reading this today don’t even know it used to be common for a person to start a job in their teens and work their way up the ladder, eventually retiring at age 65 from the same company! Today, employment is much more fluid, and many people experience job change frequently, sometimes by moving on to better opportunities, but sometimes because their current job is changing due to new ownership, new strategies, new methods and new technology.
Still, in spite of the new normal trends, most people struggle with change even if it’s positive. In today’s business environment, since nothing stays the same for very long, those who are unable to effectively “ride the waves” will likely find themselves drowning. Here are ten tips to help you navigate in a changing world.
“To change is to be vulnerable. And to be vulnerable is to be alive.” Alexis DeVeaux
1. Jump in and stay engaged. It starts with deciding to start. Deciding to resist and staying on the outside of the changes often leads to resentment and a sense of powerlessness. Ask questions, listen and participate. Being part of the change process may give you a voice in what happens next.
2. Be prepared for a reaction. Deciding to participate doesn’t mean it will feel good at first. Don’t be surprised if you experience sadness, joy, anger, laughter, crying, confusion, discomfort, excitement, etc. – it’s normal!
3. Identify and express your emotions. Unacknowledged and unexpressed emotion causes stress and will make the change process painful. If you aren’t comfortable telling your supervisor about how you feel as you face changes, it can be very helpful to talk with a counselor or coach who can help you process your emotions.
4. Regularly monitor your attitude. No other person, group or set of circumstances can control your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes – only you can. And the choice you make to have a good attitude about the changes and challenges ahead will ultimately have the most impact on how successfully you navigate it.
5. Maintain flexibility and go with the flow. Remember that resistance and opposition only prolong the process. Don’t try to fight the current. Have you ever been on the beach and tried to stand stiff as big waves rolled in? Most likely, you got knocked over. But if you relaxed and floated when the waves rolled in, you could enjoy the ride. Keep that image in mind as you choose how to respond to change.
6. Hold on to something familiar. Stick with your normal routine as much as possible including your sleep, diet, social activities and exercise. We struggle the most with changes in which we don’t have much, if any, control. But you can offset the changes at work by keeping the rest of your life as normal as possible. Healthy routine can help you feel in balance during changes.
7. Enlist the support of others. This is an excellent time to rely on friends, co-workers and family. You may benefit from their experiences. Try to connect with co-workers who are also affected by the changes. Going through an experience together will encourage you and give you opportunity to share your coping strategies. Family and friends outside the company can be great sounding boards when you just need to vent without creating dissention at work.
8. Manage the big change in small steps. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. As much as possible, begin immediately to adjust your schedule, re-think your priorities and replace the old methods with new. If you change one small thing at a time, it will be more manageable.
9. Find the good in the change. There is usually something that can be learned from the changes we experience that will help us to continue to grow. Whether the change is comfortable or not, intentionally focus on what might get better as a result. The company will be able to keep up in the market, you will learn new technology, your product or service will improve, you will mature as a person by weathering the change with a good attitude – keep focusing on the positive!
10.Know that it will end. “This too shall pass.” Remind yourself of a change you survived in the past, and remember, you can make it through this one, too! Life is always going to be a series of changes, and you have probably gone through many adjustments already. You have the ability to learn to do things differently and will eventually get used to the changes and feel more comfortable.
Every experience you have navigating change makes you stronger and more able to embrace the next one. Ride the wave of change instead of letting it knock you off your feet!
Live, Work and Relate Well!