Weathering Change

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The one constant in this world is change. Yet many people are uncomfortable when the familiar becomes unfamiliar, when the known becomes uncertain, when the old rules no longer apply.

Get used to it: change is coming, probably faster and then even faster over the coming years. It’s just not smart to stick your head in the sand and hope the coming changes pass you by.

The best way, the ONLY way, to maintain and improve your level of productivity and success is to learn how to weather change, make it your friend, and come out of tomorrow’s fast approaching changes better, faster, stronger – at least to the maximum extent that you can.

Here are some effective strategies for converting what looks like uncomfortable changes fast approaching in your work and your life into potential opportunities for improvement:

Give It Up

The first and probably most important strategy for dealing with change is to let go of the old stuff. Whether it’s a situation, a process, an environment, a team, or whatever, recognize that once change has begun, the old stuff is (mostly or entirely) gone, and will likely never come back.

The willingness to relinquish the old and clear away its rubble helps to prepare a solid foundation on which you can readily face whatever is coming next.

This willingness may not come easily. Some people are highly resistant to change, particularly when they feel familiar with and successful in the old. The knowledge that change is in the wind may spark strong emotions for such people, including:

  • Anger.
  • Confusion.
  • Denial.
  • Fear.
  • Grief.
  • Mental Paralysis.
  • Sadness.
  • Stubbornness.

Working through this “Give It Up” strategy requires that you accept any such emotions that arise. You must give them time to emerge, peak, and finally decline. There’s no fixed timetable for this process. However, the more time you can take for this, the more completely you will be able to give up the old stuff, no matter how comfortable and fulfilling it may have felt.

One important aid in this process is to look toward the future, trying to anticipate how you can make use of your experience, knowledge, and skills as you transition from the old into whatever comes next.

Anticipate and Prepare

As you give up the old, you may feel the second strategy become more viable. Here, the goal is to build on the foundation of “giving up the old” by looking for replacement elements in the new situation and environment, new processes, new relationships, or whatever seems likely to support comfort and productivity going forward.

This is an exploratory strategy that calls for experimentation, a willingness to think and perform creatively, and an open-minded attitude toward whatever works well under the newly emerging conditions.

It’s not unusual to experience the difficulties of this strategy as feelings like:

  • Anxiety.
  • Cynicism.
  • Depression.
  • Frustration.
  • Resentment.

After a while, you may leave these negative emotions behind, and find increasing satisfaction as you forge ahead, make more sense of the new situation, and learn to cope as well or better than before.

New Direction and Purpose

The third strategy to apply when change hits is to set up for success. This involves systematizing operations in the new environment, consolidating changes, and resetting procedures and goals for the long haul.

As the saying goes, “You can’t change the wind, but you can adjust your sails.”

The negative emotions that came to the fore in recent weeks and months are now likely to give way to feelings of:

  • Coping
  • Eagerness.
  • High energy.
  • Success
  • Team spirit.

This is a time to celebrate your success at weathering all the hardships associated with change. You can also make a long-range commitment to the new situation, process, environment, team, or whatever new stuff has replaced the old stuff.

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