Unexpected or unplanned changes in our lives can be daunting. Our natural instinct is to shy away from change in favour of our long-lived comfort zones. However, the reality is that change offers us exciting new opportunities and experiences, journeys from which we can learn so much and improve our understanding of self, while also enriching our lives.
Some of the key elements to successfully navigating change include making a commitment to support the change, from the outset. We should try visualising the positive outcomes of change; to generate excitement and reinforce commitment. We should make a plan – literally – by drafting a step-by-step strategy to approach the change.
Keep Moving Forward
Procrastination may creep in and we may find ourselves with insufficient energy to take the next step. That’s okay – we all need to take a break or practice a little self-care from time to time, until we are more energised and confident about taking the next step. But critical to the process is to keep moving forward.
Real vs Perceived
Something that I try to assess when faced with an unexpected change, in my personal life or my work, is whether my initial fearful reaction to the change is real or perceived. Often fear smothers and immobilises us, but when we begin to work through it, we discover our fears were illusions and perhaps over-dramatised in our own minds.
A colleague recently shared a story with me. It involved a situation that her adult daughter had experienced, and it is a perfect example of how fear of change can be perceived rather than real.
The young woman (Thandi, for the purposes of this story) is a producer in the fashion photography industry in Paris. Her boss, the owner of the New York based company, engaged with Thandi about opening a separate, stand-alone business in Paris and asked her if she would assist him in this venture. Thandi was honoured and excited by this opportunity and gladly accepted the challenge.
Thandi worked tirelessly and with seemingly unending motivation for many months, to establish the Paris office, while acknowledging that, in time, an executive producer would be appointed above her to lead the new business. When the new executive arrived, Thandi struggled to relinquish her hold on a business she felt she had built from scratch. She objected to changes the new executive proposed, and she was convinced that her new boss was not suitable and was insufficiently experienced to successfully lead the business.
Fortunately, Thandi did not voice any of these thoughts to anyone connected to the business. After a period of some weeks working with the new executive, Thandi discovered that her negativity towards him was in fact her own personal adverse reaction to change. She realised that she had prematurely judged someone she had never met. Her anxiety was internal. In reality, the new executive was a great addition to the business; and he alleviated the significant burden of work that Thandi had been previously grappling to manage alone.
Change expands us – it opens our minds and our lives to new and exciting opportunities. Why not meet it with positivity, enthusiasm, and curiosity? We are likely to be surprised and delighted by the outcomes.