As we usher in a new year, we’re reminded that change is as constant as the pages of the calendar turning. Change can be very exciting, but at the same time it can be very scary. Ultimately, it comes down to how the change itself impacts us personally and whether we see any benefit. Some changes such as new jobs, weddings, and babies being born are perceived as positive. Other changes like job loss, divorce, and funerals are viewed as negative. Regardless of the type of change, it can still be stressful.
It's Only Natural
It's natural to feel discomfort or fear in the face of change. It’s a normal reaction to dig our heels in and reject the unfamiliar. It’s logical to think we’ve done it this way for so long, why change now? All of these thoughts and feelings are completely common. But the fact is that change is also common. It is a natural part of life and a critical experience we must embrace if we want to grow.
According to leadership expert Simon Sinek, “There is this notion in business that people fundamentally fear change. That simply is not true. People fear sudden change. Incremental change is not threatening. People fear change that threatens them” (Source: www.youtube.com/@SimonSinek). Author Ronald Heifetz agrees in his book “The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World,” saying, "What people resist is not change per se, but loss. When change involves real or potential loss, people hold on to what they have and resist the change.” Resistance can simply make the situation more difficult.
How to Embrace Change
There are many strategies that can make transitions smoother.
- Understand what’s happening. The first step is understanding the change itself. Look at the reasons behind the change. Gather as much information as possible and ask questions. Making a list of questions can help you organize your thoughts. It also serves as a way to get stressful thoughts out of your mind and on paper to revisit later.
- Have a positive mindset. As difficult as it may be, thinking positively can help us look at the situation through a different lens. Consider the opportunities and the growth that can come from the changes ahead. Utilizing mindfulness techniques, meditation, exercise, and good sleep schedules are paramount. Do things that invigorate and create happiness! Make yourself a priority.
- Be open-minded and adaptive. Find ways to expand your perspective by looking for the benefits and opportunities change can bring.
- Set realistic expectations. We all know change takes time. Breaking the process into small chunks can make it much more manageable and make the change itself more palatable.
- Engage your support systems and practice self-care. Have a network of people who can encourage you and provide pearls of wisdom when needed. Reach out to others for support and guidance and seek professional help if you’re really struggling.
Life is full of unexpected events, but change doesn’t have to be unsettling. The most crucial thing is how we cope with it. We all have strengths we can draw upon to help us adapt. Many times, we get to learn new skills and strengthen others. Take advantage of the opportunity to build your resilience and confidence! Remember, it’s vital to make sure we do things that bring joy into our lives. We must always make space for the things that are important to us.