Change is inevitable, but it's also stressful and can wreak havoc on our productivity. So how can we manage our lives so that we can not only survive it, but come through it better than we went into it?
Change Is Inevitable
Centuries ago the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only thing constant is change.” Certainly we see that in our lives as women. But even though it's inevitable, I've never been a fan of change. I like predicability. I like to know what to expect, and what's expected of me. Despite that, I've recently voluntarily made a big change professionally that's had a ripple effect in my personal life. That got me thinking about why change is so hard, and how I can embrace change and get through this transition (and others) with a minimum of disruption.
What's so scary about change?
Almost by definition change pushes us out of our comfort zone, that place of familiarity, security, and certainty where our lives are ordered in such a way as to minimize risk and the stress that comes from it. Change means the riskiness of the unknown and the possibility of going down in flames.
What makes change hard?
Change can mess up our productivity. It increases our stress level. Any transition from the familiar to the new means new systems and procedures to get used to, which is frustrating and tiring. Nothing works the way we expect it to, so everything takes longer and feels less efficient–that learning curve can make us feel less competent. Change messes with our self-image and requires us to redefine our identity.
What can we do to manage the stresses change can cause?
There are things we can do to manage and minimize the stress and disruption of those transition times.
1. Work hard on maintaining a good attitude.
Focus on the positive; look for things to be grateful for; and keep things in perspective–remember that in a relatively short time you will have adjusted to the new situation or new season and it will be your new normal.
What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly”
~ Richard Bach
2. Consider the benefits of change.
Stepping outside our comfort zone and challenging ourselves, taking risks and pushing our limits, can help us grow and become better, stronger people. Trying new things can give us a new perspective and help make us more creative. Embracing new challenges can help us stay sharp and energetic as we age.
3. Be patient with yourself and with the situation.
Yes, transitions are challenging, but with time and patience you will adjust to the new and it will become familiar and easier.
4. Give yourself permission to fail.
Take a moment to realistically look at the worst-case scenario. I'll bet you'll find it wouldn't be as awful as you might be thinking.
5. Take care of yourself.
Try to eat well, rest, and get some exercise (which has great stress-reducing benefits).
6. Embrace the new, but carry over some of the familiar.
Be willing to consider whether a new way of doing things might be better, but try to keep some of the familiar elements that comfort you.
7. Treat yourself.
Mani-pedi? Massage? A new outfit? Dinner with your husband or a good friend? Take a little time to pamper yourself and do something that makes you feel happy.
8. Get some help.
If the stress of the change is getting the better of you, talk to someone–a trustworthy friend or even a professional counselor who can help you talk through the things that are stressing you out or worrying you.
What do you think?
Have you faced a change in your life lately? Are you going through change now? Do you love change, or fear it? Do you have some tips for coping with (or thriving in) change that might help the rest of us? Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.
For more information or inspiration
- “6 Reasons to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone” by Carolyn Gregoire
- “Saying ‘Yes” to What's Next — 4 Signs You are a Master at Handling Change” by Cy Wakeman
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