5 Ideas for Managing Change

by David B. Bohl

“Life is difficult.” These words open M. Scott Peck’s classic book, The Road Less Traveled. Dr. Peck might as well have said, “Life is change,” because it well and truly is.

We all deal with change, well or poorly, every day. The challenge for most of is not so much that we have change to deal with, but how well we manage it. Managing change well means less stress, less work, and more time to feel content, joyful, and fulfilled.

How can you manage change better? I’ve come up with five ideas I think can help all of us deal more successfully and smoothly with the change in our lives.

1. Understand that change is inevitable. Statisticians rely on the fact that the future will be very much like the past, because the future has always been much like the past. However, they recognize the Human Dilemma, posed by philosopher David Hume, that we don’t have any evidence that the future will be like the past.

And honestly, though the future is always much like the past, it’s also always different in many ways. Once we accept that tomorrow will be different, we can accept those changes more readily when they come.

2. Learn to enjoy change. This sounds like a very tall order, but let’s think about it. Change often causes stress. But the body often does not know the difference between negative stress and positive stress, or excitement. We could just as readily be excited by the change, but we put a negative turn on it in our minds, and choose to feel threatened and upset rather than excited and joyous.

3. Work for the changes you desire. We all know that change is going to happen, whether we want it or not. We may not be happy with that state of affairs, but we do know that change is coming. What we can do to make that change more pleasant is to make sure that we’re actively helping to enact the changes we want.

4. Keep change in perspective. Sometimes we get so overwhelmed by the idea of change, that we see every change as equally threatening. Really, some changes are more important, and affect our lives more fully, than others. By learning to choose our battles with change, we can spend much less time worrying about and fighting small changes, and much more time learning to deal with the larger changes that really matter.

5. Relax. If you’ve done the other steps, if you know there’s going to be change, if you’re enjoying change as much as you can, working for the changes you want in your life and environment, and understanding which are big changes and which are major, then you’re doing all you can to deal with change. Relax. Enjoy your life.

These five ideas can help you deal effectively with change. Why not start now?

  • Spend some time thinking about the most recent changes in your life. Did you see them coming? How can you begin to understand the inevitability of change?
  • The next time you experience a major change, practice feeling excited rather than stressed.
  • Pick one thing you would like to change. What can you do to make that happen?

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