Coping with Change
Updated: Sep 8
The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.
This is one blog that will stand the test of time. The capacity to cope with change is a crucial life skill that will prove useful time and again.
Change is stressful. Even when it’s a change you have chosen and it promises a better future, it still requires an adjustment from what has become comfortable and familiar.
Even harder, are the changes that happen to you and were not of your design or choosing.
Adapting to change takes time. Companies are still adjusting from the changes brought on by the global pandemic. Many workers are now insisting on more work-life balance or balking at requirements that they return to the office.
But it doesn’t take a global pandemic to prompt change. It could be a new owner, a new CEO, a structural reorganization of the company, new regulatory requirements, or industry changes. Even hiring a new person for a new role requires modifications from the standard operating procedure.
In his book, Making Sense of Life’s Transitions, William Bridges explains that change consists of three components:
1) an ending,
2) a period of confusion and distress, and
3) a new beginning.
It’s understandable, then, that change is often accompanied with feelings of sadness for what is lost, anxiety about the uncertainties that lie ahead, and discomfort as adjustments are made to assimilate what’s new.
If you are experiencing a change of some kind in your work life here are some tips that might help.
1. Acknowledge what is being lost. It may be a familiar set of faces, a comfortable way of doing things, or a feeling of security. Taking time to name these losses and reflect on their role in your life, helps you face the impending change with less resistance and a more open mind.
2. Get factual information. As changes unfold, it’s easy to let fears run rampant and churn up increasing anxiety about what could happen. To cope with this, get more information and ground yourself in the facts.
3. Focus on what you can control. Getting consumed by ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ is an unproductive use of energy because it doesn’t change the reality of what’s occurring. There will always be things that are out of your control, but you are in charge of how you respond to those. Focusing your attention on the elements you can control will reduce stress and facilitate your adaptation.
4. Create temporary structures. The time between an ending and a new beginning can feel awkward and uncomfortable. When your kitchen is being remodeled, you wash dishes in the bathroom sink. It’s annoying and inconvenient but it functions adequately enough until the new kitchen is complete. In the same way, finding temporary ways to manage the in-between stage can reduce the stress of this liminal time.
5. Look for opportunities. Change brings the opportunity to break out of your traditional viewpoints and consider new possibilities. Shifting your attention to the positive side of what can happen helps you see possibilities that were previously overshadowed by fear and overwhelm. Checking in with your values and doing a reset on your goals can help with framing this new perspective.
Whether it’s in individual life change or a company wide change, the transition process can feel confusing and cumbersome. Don’t try to go it alone! G2 Solutions can help!
Next week, we’ll talk about what leaders can do to support their team through a change at work.