Change happens! Secrets to make it work for you

Are you the sort of person that likes to know what they’ll be having for lunch in 3 weeks’ time or where every cent of your money goes?

Maybe you prefer to leave each day totally unplanned or you have no specific goals, budget or savings?

Or, maybe you’re a bit of both? Most of us do sit somewhere in between. You might have plans or routines in some areas of your life but be happy to drift through others. Is that a conscious choice, though?

The control factor

The rigid planner has every aspect of their life organised to the extreme. Their wardrobe, social life, finances and daily routines have been analysed and planned meticulously. That’s all fine until they are forced to make a change. It might be a minor change like having to take a new route to work because of roadworks or a major one like being caught up in a corporate restructure. The bigger the change, the more unsettled they become, sometimes to the point of total resistance.

The ‘drifter’ may go through life without achieving much because they don’t have clear goals or values. Some people are quite happy like that but many feel that they are powerless to prevent change so they don’t plan for it. They allow others to dictate what happens to them.

Do you recognise some of these characteristics in yourself?

Why do people dislike change?

There are many answers to this question.

A lot depends on our past experiences and the beliefs we formed as a result of them. For example, if your family moved often when you were young you might cling to stability or find it hard to settle down. Or, you might have become good at dealing with new situations.

Some reasons people dislike change include:

·      Being fearful of the unknown.
·      Having a lack of understanding or consultation about the reason for change.
·      Feeling strongly connected to the ‘old way’ or to relationships surrounding the old way.
·      Having a lack of motivation to change.
·      Having a lack of confidence in their ability to influence change.
·      Feeling so inundated with change that they give up and give in reluctantly.

These reasons are all normal and valid. But … there is a difference between not liking change and actively resisting it. Change can be unsettling but also motivating. If you don’t like something, you can take steps to do something about it.

If you do strongly resist change, you need to understand why you’re doing it. Maybe you passionately believe that the change will have too many negative consequences, such as a government policy or a local development. Resistance to those sorts of changes is a vital part of our democratic society.

If you can’t articulate the reason for your resistance, it may help to reflect on your personal beliefs and see if they are driving your emotions and behaviour. If you struggle with this, consider talking it through with someone you trust.

Why we should plan for change

Our world is constantly changing and evolving. Technology, fashions, family structures, and work environments differ from generation to generation. Nature, of course, changes daily in shifting patterns.

Change is generally a good thing. It brings growth, improvement, innovation, new opportunities and the chance to learn new things. We need to be flexible, resilient and know how to adapt to change.

Being flexible is not the same as being unfocused, though. It is important to have goals but also have contingency plans for when the unexpected happens.

What steps should we take?

Accepting that change is part of life is the key to coping well with change. We also need to believe we can control our response to it and affect the outcome so that it works for us.

We can do this by planning for likely scenarios and developing the skills to respond to unforeseen ones. These skills include:

·      Staying calm and focused in stressful situations. Looking after your mental and physical health helps in many ways with this.
·      Learning to face your fears by identifying and acknowledging them. Are they rational?
·      Actively and constantly developing a wide range of skills and experience to draw from.
·      Learning from past mistakes.
·      Taking calculated risks. Do your homework thoroughly but don’t let your fear take over.

Be prepared to try new things and expand your comfort zone in stages. Be adventurous. When you learn to embrace change, you’ll discover opportunities and possibilities you’d never dreamed of and before you know it you’ll be thriving.

Call to action…

To hear from someone who has learned to make change her friend listen in to the recent podcast interview with Michelle Gibbings on The Mentor List.

Michelle is a leadership and change expert, and the author of ‘Step Up: How to build your influence at work’. She works with executives and global organisations to help them accelerate progress in complex environments.

Michelle shares how her wandering career pathway has taught her how to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and to use her broad range of skills to enhance each new position. In her interview, she shares lots of valuable and practical advice for all those facing personal and career changes. Which, these days, means all of us.

Kick start your personal journey to success from the conversations David has with his inspirational guests on The Mentor List. www.mentorlist.com.au

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