Change happens whether we want it to or not, and some seem easier to deal with than others. But any change, no matter how small, will draw out some emotion in all of us, good or bad. The thought of it can bring out fear or anxiety; and one change in any part of your life spreads out to affect many other areas. The impact can be significant and difficult to rebound.
You can’t always choose what happens to you in life, but you can choose how you handle it. The more you take charge, the easier it will be to deal with the things that happen in life that you are not prepared to manage.
There are two ways to react to change; you can let it take control of you, or use it to help you get where you want to go.
Think about how you see change. Do you immediately feel overwhelmed by the situation, or see it as an opportunity? It may sound strange, but you increase your sense of control when you are open to change. Try to look at each change as an opportunity to gain new skills and knowledge.
Take the offense rather than the defense. Try taking calculated risks and then apply lessons learned from past experiences to similar challenges facing you.
Here are some suggestions that may help you improve your ability to be proactive:
- Develop plans for managing the worst-case scenario that might result from a change.
- Assess the risks by listing all of the pros and cons you can imagine.
- If it’s at work: during meetings, ask questions and gather information and maintain an attitude of mutual respect for peers, employees, and managers.
Developing these characteristics further takes time and practice. Give yourself time.
Look on the bright side
Even though change can lead to many positive factors, a positive place is not always the first place your mind will go, especially depending on the type of change. Assuming the worst can filter your perception of any change.
Try to embrace change with optimism. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects, start making your plans around the positive aspects and, if there are negative aspects that need addressing immediately (e.g. job loss), plan to get towards the potential positive outcomes. For example:
- Is there an opportunity for you to look for something you would actually enjoy?
- If not, what steps will you take to get back into the job market quickly, e.g. update your resume and LinkedIn profile immediately, start networking, and if your company offers services you can use, use them, they can help.
Revise your thoughts about change
Look at your thoughts on change. It’s not necessarily the change itself that is stressful, but your view of it. Do you feel immediately overwhelmed by the situation or do you see it as an opportunity? The first step in managing the stress of change is to be aware of your perceptions.
Start by taking a look at how a change will have a positive impact on you. You may be surprised by the wonderful things that can come from dealing with the challenge of a situation you think is stressful.
- Be open to the possibilities of self-development. Take a look at how you can benefit from the change, no matter how small the return. Will you acquire new knowledge and skills? Will you meet new people that might open you up to new things? Will this change enable you to remove some of the negative influences in your life? New events can provide the opportunity to grow in understanding yourself and others.
- You may also feel motivated to find new support systems such as friends, family or coworkers. They can provide you with valuable feedback, help you confront difficult situations and encourage you to meet your goals. These people may be there for you long after you’ve integrated the change into your life.
You are important so take time for you
Stress is exhausting so try to remove some of the exhausting aspects of your life.
- Are you a perfectionist? Expecting perfection is unrealistic and can add extra stress to an already stressful situation such as change. Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes.
- Work smarter not harder. Work less by making lists, delegating tasks and saying no when you have too much on your plate. When you take on too much, you begin a stressful, self-defeating cycle of never achieving enough.
- Feelings of guilt. Guilt adds stress. If you have unrealistic expectations of yourself, or if you like to make people happy, the result may be feelings of guilt if you don’t do something to expectations. It’s also okay to say no to things that you know you can’t manage or that will increase your stress level.
- Take the time to look after yourself. Exercise, eat better, take vacations, laugh and spend time doing things you love.
These are some of my tips to better manage change; what are some of yours?