You can think back to the last time that you faced a challenge and had to make changes. Given the world we live in today, the latest change affecting you might have happened yesterday or today: an organizational change at your company; a new – important – development in your profession; a change in what your customers want; a new regulation arising from the pandemic.
If you’re like most people, your first reaction to this latest change was probably more negative than positive. Maybe this: Arrgh, as if the past two years haven’t been stressful enough…” along with a sinking feeling and a sense of being newly overwhelmed.
Why is the idea of change – especially change imposed upon us – so often unwelcome? Given the past few years of massive change and disruption on so many levels, you’d think we would have gotten used to non-stop personal and professional change by now.
Our collective experience of life as a species is to blame. Change is dangerous. It has been dangerous for most of humanity’s history. Our best course of action was to stay the same. If there was a famine – you wanted to get back to eating regularly. If there was an invading army – you wanted to get back to peace and prosperity. It’s easy to see the point. Most often, it was a good idea to return to stable conditions.
Most people view change as a threat over thousands of years. To be successful today, many of us must make significant changes to how we work and who we collaborate with. So, what’s a human to do? These five tips can make you more adaptable to change:
“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” – Deepak Chopra
1. Learn More
When an unexpected change comes at us, we often just shut down and stop listening after the word “different.” But there’s some key information about any change that will help you decide how best to respond. First, ask for more clarity about what the change is – what it means for you, practically. Then ask why it’s happening, so you get some sense of possible benefits. Ask the promoter of the change about the future. If possible, what will it look like for your company, customers and employees? This foundational information will make it easier to understand the changes and less daunting.
2. Very difficult.
Most often, when we first hear about a change, we assume it’s going to be difficult – that we won’t know how to do it, or that others will make it hard to do. You can instead think about how to make the change easier. Is there someone who already knows how to do what you’re being asked to do who could help you? Do you have training? Talk to your boss or other people who are promoting change about the steps required to achieve it.
3. Rewards that are costly
We also tend to think that a change is going to take away more than it gives us: that learning how to do it will take time we can’t spare or that it will hurt our reputation – that we’ll look bad trying to do something we’re not used to doing. The change will seem less daunting if you can also focus on ways in which it might be rewarding: maybe the new way of doing things will take less time, once you’ve learned it, or will solve a problem that you know customers have been complaining about. If you discover that the long-term rewards outweigh the near-term costs, the change will start to seem more attractive – maybe even necessary.
4. From Strange to Common
The worst thing about changing is the feeling that you are doing something completely new. Anyone who’s ever had to learn to drive a stick shift as an adult, for instance, or spent time living in another culture, knows that feeling of “this just isn’t what I’m used to.” Making a change feel normal is an important way to get past our hesitation, and sometimes the quickest way to do that is to find someone you like and respect who understands and is doing things in the new way. You can ask them what they think is OK and then listen to what you find most appealing.
5. Practice Makes Perfect…or at Least OK
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, to be comfortable with any new method of thinking or doing things, simply do it. Do it again. If you think about anything you’ve learned as an adult – from swing dancing, to speaking another language, to using a new social media platform – you probably remember the day when you had practiced enough that you suddenly thought “Oh, this isn’t so hard.” Once you’ve gotten some basic information about the change and started to look for ways it could be easy (or at least doable), rewarding and normal – take a deep breath and just jump into trying it out.
All indications are that there will be more change happening in our world and in our lives. It’s unlikely that we’re ever going to return to a time when everything stays status quo. Every day will make it more crucial to be able to adapt to change and to respond to it well. This is why I encourage you to reset your thinking about change. It’s your best path to a successful, satisfying personal and professional life in this era of non-stop change.
Addicted 2 Success originally published the post Being change-capable is key to your success.