Change can be tough to deal with. Humans evolved with a natural dislike of change, since change usually involves being at a disadvantage until the unfamiliar becomes familiar, and while adapting to new conditions and learning new survival skills.
But change doesn’t have to be an obstacle. Here are a few time-tested methods for dealing with change that can help you go with the flow and even learn to enjoy the ride.
1. Educate yourself. Try to learn as much about what is going on as possible. Knowing the what, why, when and how of any change is a good first step for regaining control of your responses to it. Also, find out what resources you need to get through the change successfully and who can help. Start making contact with your support group immediately, so that you know what resources you have at your disposal as soon as possible.
2. Have a plan. Whether the change is something you control or not, you need to have a plan of action for dealing with it. If you know the change is coming, you’ll be able to plan accordingly. But usually change happens too fast or too unexpectedly to make up a plan on the spot, so your best bet is to always be prepared. Have a backup plan for your career or personal pursuits, in case those are lost or radically altered. Keep an emergency bag packed with a change of clothes, travel food, a bit of money and other survival needs in case of a natural disaster or other crisis. And know who you can depend on to offer you support, in case you need time to regroup.
3. Take time to acknowledge your loss. Anytime change occurs, something is lost. Ignoring this, or pretending you don’t care, is counterproductive. Take some time to acknowledge and process what’s changed. Whether it’s grieving over a lost career or saying goodbye to the community you’re moving away from, the process of letting go is an important part of opening yourself up to new opportunities and experiences.
4. Stay in the now. Trying to deal with change while thinking about and wishing for the past is a losing battle. Once you’ve acknowledged any loss, commit to dealing with what is, rather than what you wish were true. The same thing goes for being stuck in the future. Once the present changes, the future you previously envisioned may no longer be possible or even desirable. This is not to say that you should abandon your goals, but you should revisit them and restructure or eliminate them as necessary based on the realities of the current situation.
5. Embrace opportunity. How you perceive change has a lot to do with how well you deal with it. Change is both a destructive and creative force. Just as the dying of plants in the winter lays the groundwork for their rebirth in the spring, change tears down what is to make room for what’s to come. Without change, nothing could grow, learn or improve. A mindset that views change as negative or bad will prevent you from recovering from your losses and moving on. On the other hand, a mindset that views change as the birth of new opportunity will always find a place in the new order of things.
Copyright 2008 David Bohl, SlowDownFAST.com. All rights reserved.