We know this, right? Then why is it so hard to deal with change? Whether we initiate change ourselves, or whether it is imposed upon us, we avoid it, we fear it and we often fight it. Seems a bit useless to expend such energy on something that is inevitable, doesn’t it? But we do. Even when we know it’s necessary, when the time is right – or right now – it’s still hard and we still drag our feet and agonize over it.
These have been my thoughts as I’ve been facing a major change in my life that I’ve been considering for quite some time. This is a change that I have chosen, but I still struggled with it; I still worried over it; I still fought over the necessity of it.
"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new" – Socrates
There really aren’t any secrets to dealing with change; we do it all the time. But when the change is emotionally charged, all the common sense approaches to problem solving seem to fly out the window. But we can cope with change.
Ask yourself this question. "What's the worst that could possibly happen?" This will force you to look at the worst case scenario then work back from there. It's forcing yourself to look at what could go wrong and finding strategies to prevent that from happening. It can also serve to keep us from catastrophizing and becoming immobilized.
Acknowledge that there's only one thing you can truly control in life, and that's yourself. Change may turn your world upside down but it's how you react to it that makes the difference between coping and falling apart. Blaming others may be a "normal" response to why change has to happen, but whether or not it's a fair assessment, blame won't really solve anything and may only serve to make you feel bitter and helpless. However, give yourself time to grieve the change. If you don't acknowledge the pain that accompanies change, there is a risk you'll push it deep down and pretend you're coping. In turn, this emotional time-bomb may explode later on.
Adopt a purposeful approach to change. Restating, refining or finally finding your purpose in life, or your career goals (or whatever else has to change in your life) can be a powerful way to put change into context. Change can awaken the quest for re-examining what truly matters to you. Allow this to be an opportunity to renew or reroute your purpose in life. This is an opportunity to re-examine the life you've been leading to see whether you've been making the right choices, spending too much (time, money, effort) on leading a lifestyle that isn't bringing you happiness or being aimless rather than making choices that make you the leader of your life.
Accept that you can’t (usually) change others. Nor do you need to take their actions as a reflection of who you are or of your personal worth.
So, when you have to make the hard change in your personal or professional life, reframe it as an opportunity to begin anew. Go ahead and scream and yell, or bitch or moan – for a few minutes – but then get back on track, take control, be the leader of your life.