My experience has taught me that often the fear of change in life is more disruptive than the change itself ends up being. The process of discussing this with my colleagues, mentor and my friends has re-enforced that I am not alone in this revelation. Over the many years that I have worked on individual and business change strategies it helped me to put in place a number of tools to minimise the disruption that fear generates. I do this so that I can get on with making change and succeeding in the face of challenges that I may not have chosen, but I must work with to keep progressing.
As I have said previously, my opinion is that it doesn’t really matter what context change occurs in, i.e. whether it’s in paid employment, unpaid employment, when we’re pursuing things we love, or doing things that we don’t like doing but we have to. My household admin comes to mind. The simple reality for me is that change is by and large a positive thing, and is the one constant in my life, however when I am busy or just barely achieving my targets already, change can seem like an unnecessary distraction to the work I have in front of me. I can be resistant to change because I feel pressure elsewhere. My answer has been to take a moment, not a big one, to focus solely on the change that needs to happen. Take a deep breath and understand what it is, what I need to do, and allow myself to recognise that all things can be manageable as long as we assess them as such and treat them accordingly.
Some questions I might reflect on are:
What is this change? (Am I changing the way I do something? Is someone else changing the way they do something and it’ll effect me? Is there anything extra I need to do?)
Do I know how to change? (Do I have the knowledge and skills to adopt this change? Will there be anyone to help me learn? Can I easily gain new tools that are required?)
A lot of fear stems from the unknown consequences of change so, for me, I take time out to assess these questions and reflect on them. This helps me put change into perspective. Once I have perspective then the fear of what is happening dissipates and I can concentrate on stepping through what needs to be done. I can be present in the process of adopting change and I can support myself through it.
What happens when it all goes wrong and I find myself upset or unable to make a change? Sometimes it’s harder than anticipated, or there are unexpected barriers that are beyond my control. If I can’t change them, then I need to change my approach. Often I’ve found that this is more about looking after myself than making any major adjustment to what I am doing from a process perspective. When things go wrong the simple basics are most important to me. I need sleep. I need a healthy approach to food. I need reflection or meditation time. I need other people and I may even need to ask for help. I need to step back from my emotions, acknowledge them for what they are and then adopt a calm approach to working through what is happening.
Do something nice for yourself
Reach out to others.
One of the strongest assets I have found in times of change is having built a network of people I trust that I can bounce ideas off. This increases resilience and helps when change gets tough. Always ask the question, “How do I make this work?” as opposed to resisting the need for change. If change will happen regardless then the way forward is to find a solution to the barriers that we face rather than spending time on fancying that perhaps the need for change may go away, or there’s an alternative to making a change. Most of all, I must have faith in myself and my ability to navigate. Self-belief is the fundamental asset that is required during moments of unrest. Believe in the outcome and half the race has been run.