In life only one thing is consistent, change. And the last 18 months have brought a whole host of changes to mine and Mr. Scents’ lives. These changes helped us grow as a couple and as individuals. They also drove us crazy and right to the edge of sanity. We’re back now though, got the t-shirt. Things started off with the decision to have kids (see here) and is now turning into me blogging and beginning a business venture. Through it all, I’ve had to figure out a better way to process and accept change, hopefully making it less painful in the future; because kicking my heels and screaming weren’t working out so well.
There are many ways I’ve dealt with change, several of which were unproductive and wasted time worrying or being angry. Like the time I quit my job on a lark and spent a week in bed from guilt and terror at my next step. Good times. So, here are some steps that have helped me champion change and maybe can help you too.
- Understand the Change
- Understand it’s impacts to you
- Do you have any control?
- Simple Adjustments
Step 1: What exactly is changing? Why is it changing? By understanding completely and becoming a subject matter expert on the change, so to speak, you will be able to go on to the next step. I don’t know about you, but when I don’t fully understand something my anxiety and worry increase; usually manifesting with me crying uncontrollably in my car to and from work for example. By taking the time to fully understand I can then take the following steps to navigate a change more effectively and without my mascara running.
For me, every time I changed positions at work I would go through this process. Even though I applied and interviewed for the position, when I would get it I would begin to panic. I think it’s my natural stubbornness to resist changes, especially ones that put me out of my comfort zone. Who wants to talk to people for a living? Me! But not me. Going back and rereading the job description to master what my new roles were going to be helped calm me down. I eliminated the fear of the unknown.
Step 2: How does this change impact you directly? If it doesn’t, you can stop stressing and move on, easier said than done, I know. If it does impact you, knowing how it will do so will help you plan to adjust to the change. This goes back to step one with understanding. How can you adjust to something you don’t understand? Difficultly and with acrobatics! Not in cirque du soleil? Try making sure you understand the impact to you so it is much easier to change with it.
With my promotions, these changes did impact me directly. I try not to apply for positions on behalf of other people. This second step was me really going through my current job description and comparing it to the new position. This would let me know where the specific changes were going to be.
Step 3: Do you have any control over how this change is implemented? If no, stop stressing and move on. Stressing here is a pit-stop I often make in big changes. Even if it doesn’t impact me directly I waste time worrying about it anyway. I’ve worked on letting it go since it’s needless for me to worry about it. Work on focusing on what is in your control, even if it is just your attitude about the change. If you do have any control, go to the next step.
My control was in applying for the new position. Most of the time I was aware of what I was getting into with the application process and what a new position would be, due to the steps above. Usually I needed an attitude check. I fake bravado, but if I’m not careful my nervousness makes me come across more confidently, i.e. like an ass, than I intend.
Step 4: What is the simplest adjustment you can make that helps you change? Like with a diet, you are more likely to stick with it and see results making small changes over time, rather than many big changes all at once. That philosophy works for all changes. It goes to the adage of work smarter not harder. When you can, be lazy!
Going back to step two where I compared my current and new positions, I discovered the changes in my role. In step four I take the changes and figure out how to get from my old position to my new position in the fewest possible changes. Laziness for the win!
Step 5: Personalize your adjustments. Once you’ve mastered a change you can personalize it. Like with the diet analogy, once you’ve made some recipes you got online you can try to make your own using the same principles. Many times this step isn’t always necessary, but I feel keeping personalization in the mix is important. Especially in business, making changes into your own help set you apart. I do this by trying to find humor or fun in changes.
This is a continuous process, becoming a champion of change. It requires constant vigilance (gratuitous Harry Potter reference) and conscious direction with what you are doing and thinking. However, mastering these skills helps you become more positive, flexible, and happy.