I love change! Like love, love it! Change invigorates me. Makes my creative juices flow, motivates and energizes me. If I could actually function and be productive in a constant state of change, I would! That’s a little extreme though; if we’re in a constant state of change we’re never in a state of finishing anything. There is, however, a lot of people that feel REALLY uncomfortable with change. Could confidence be at the root of this discomfort?
I wouldn’t recommend that people need to strive for my same degree of love for change. That end of the spectrum comes with it’s own set of challenges. We need people in our world that enjoy and thrive off routine, structure and stability. Think of all the jobs that would be impossible to fill if no one wanted a position with routine and stability! But, change is inevitable, everywhere in our world. When it comes knocking on your doorstep, how do you cope? Do you see change, leap in excitement, get your change gameface on and run out the door to greet it? Do you see change and greet it calmly, without fear? Or do you try to slam the door on it’s face before it can get it’s toe in the door?
I have seen people literally shut down at the mere suggestion of change. Their posture becomes defensive. They immediately try to change the subject and if they think they can get away with it they’ll even try to escape the situation all together. Talk about going into flight mode!! If they can’t escape and the idea is pushed a little further they’ll start defending – fight mode engaged! They’ll argue why keeping the status quo is the smartest move. They’ll quickly shoot down the ideas that come with change, piping up with why that’s impossible, impractical or stupid. Those that are really afraid of change and see it’s imminent arrival have even gone so far as to be downright ridiculous in their resistance. Why this extreme response? Could it be linked to confidence?
Let’s look at change and what is required for change to occur. When we’re heading into an era of change we’re heading into unknown territory. We do not know what challenges we might face. We do not know the consequences that the change may bring. For someone who has confidence, this is not scary. For someone who lacks confidence, even just in this particular area, this uncertainty can be downright terrifying. It comes down to the question of, will their be failure AND will I be capable of managing it? Often, when we make a change, we don’t get it 100% right the first time. We have to tweak and adjust and continue to make changes until we get it right and a new normal is established. Failure, to some degree, almost goes hand in hand with change. If we are concerned with what others may think of us while we experience these failures, if we are unsure if we can physically or emotionally cope with the consequences of the failure or if we don’t know if we’re smart enough to make the right tweaks and adjustments necessary to make the change a success, or if we are scared we are not smart enough to perform in a new way that the change requires, we are likely to be very resistant to that change. You see how a fear of change can be linked to lack of confidence, versus the preference for status quo is more of a personality trait? So how do we become people that accept change instead of people that are afraid of change? I’m going to provide a few of my own ideas below. What other tips or tricks have you figured out to make change easier?
- If your work place is requiring you to make a change, remind yourself that they will support the process. If it becomes clear that training is required they will likely provide it or be willing to make it available at your request. Additionally, they are likely to expect some growing pains and mistakes will be seen as part of the process, not a direct negative reflection on you.
- If you start to feel panic close your eyes and ask yourself, what are the positive possibilities? You’ve likely already thought of a flood of negative possibilities. But take the time to purposely open your mind to and think of possible positive outcomes.
- Often, if we’re afraid or overwhelmed we may automatically feel anger. Use your head to speak to your emotions. You could tell yourself, “I’m feeling angry. This could be because I do not like change. I know that sometimes change has a good outcome and sometimes the change is not for the better. I cannot control the fact that this change is happening. I will control my response. Anger will not help and will make the change more difficult. I am going to accept that, for now, there is uncertainty. I am going to remain neutral until I have sufficient evidence to support whether the change is truly good or bad. I will make the changes required so that I can gather evidence.”
- Give the change real time. If you give it a minute, an hour or a day and then throw your hands up in despair that this simply isn’t working, what you’re really doing is biding your time and looking for openings to fight against the change. Live with the process for awhile. Remind yourself, this is kinda uncomfortable, but that’s ok, it will gradually start to feel better.
Good luck and happy changing! I’d love to hear from some of you that were afraid of a change but were delighted when it worked out for the better!