Have you experienced any change in your life recently? These days many people have been experiencing significant change in their lives as a result of the economy; whether it’s worrying about a job, retirement accounts, or what the future holds.
Change, whether good or bad, usually brings some level of discomfort. There are always some unknowns with change. Most people even dread changing their bank accounts. This article focuses on change and resiliency and provides tips for dealing with change productively.
Change is inevitable. In the past year, I have experienced more change than ever before. I left a job after over nine years, started a business, moved into a new house, and got married. Even getting used to my new last name was a big change (I can’t count how many times I had to catch myself when saying my name as I was introduced). Although all of these changes were positive decisions in my life, there was still a sense of the unknown. These events all brought challenges. I had an opportunity to choose a perspective about change; is it overwhelming and stressful, or exciting and fun?
There is fear in change because it always involves something different replacing the familiar. As author Kevin Cashman puts it “change challenges our current reality by forcing a new reality to rush in”. We all face change in our lives, and leaders in organizations are no exception. In fact, a recent study by Lominger International revealed that the number one most important competency for leaders in shortest supply today is “Dealing with Complex Challenges”. The leadership skills required for this competency include change management and adaptability.
Change is endless and constant. To thrive in life, we must be able to deal with change. As leaders in organizations, we need to be able to master change and develop resiliency. Mastering change is the ability to learn, adapt, and apply what we learned to other circumstances. Cashman says “It’s about developing an unshakeable inner confidence that we can handle and learn from anything that comes our way”.
Below are ten strategies for mastering change and resiliency:
- Step away, take a breath, and take some time to think realistically about the impact of the change and the strategy for moving forward. We often get caught up in the change itself and cannot think clearly enough to develop a strategy.
- Adjust your mindset from viewing change as a problem to an opportunity.
- Think about the different perspectives you could have around the change. What perspective do you choose to be in?
- Keep sight of the long term vision, not what the change causes short term. How will your perspective be different a year from now?
- Be open to learning. If we resist change, our energy is wrapped up in the effort to maintain the status quo. Think, “What can I learn from this?”
- Change often causes stress. Ask yourself, “What can I control in this situation? What can I do to influence this situation? What do I have to accept about the situation?”
- Focus on the present moment. Don’t think about what has happened in the past or what could happen in the future.
- Trust yourself. Developing an inner equilibrium is essential for being resilient in the midst of change. Trust that everything will work out.
- Improve your ability to respond to change. Stretch yourself in little ways every day. How will you respond to the terrible traffic? How will you react to trying something new?
- Be open to self-change. In every experience with change, be open to learning and changing yourself. Ask yourself, “How can I grow from this change?
A five-year study of 97 active, productive people over 100 years of age conducted by Dr. Leonard Poon of the University of Georgia found that there are four common characteristics that influence resilience:
- Optimism: They had a positive view of the past and future and were not dominated by worry or negativity.
- Engagement: They were actively involved in life, they were not passive observers.
- Mobility: They stayed active physically.
- Adaptability to Loss: They had an extraordinary ability to stay balanced by adapting to and accepting change and loss.
Change is here to stay. We can’t always control the circumstances, but what we can control is our perspective about change. The next time you are faced with any type of change, challenge yourself to think through some different perspectives, then choose one that will help you productively manage the change. As Henry David Thoreau said, “Things do not change; we change”.