1

Managing Change

Change will not come if we wait

for some other person or some other time.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

We are the change that we seek.

                                                       Barak Obama

The nature of change

     Change is inevitable !

Change is to be expected and is a natural occurrence. None of us are exempt from change. Indeed, human development is dependent on change. We graduate from being a child, to an adolescent, to an adult, to a senior.

Over our life span, our health changes, our relationships change; we change careers. We may change where we live, with whom we live, even why we live. We change our habits; we change our minds. How well we manage change is a major influence on how we feel about ourselves, others, and the world in general.

     All change is not created equal.

Some change is chosen; other change is imposed. Some changes are small; others are big! Some change is insignificant; other change is life altering. We have control over some change; other change is not subject to our control. Some change is welcome while other change may be resisted. Some change may be sudden; other change may be foreseeable over time. Some change is for a limited time; other change is permanent.

     Change is stressful.

Unwelcome change is the most stressful.  Certainly Covid thrust upon us many unexpected changes. Our personal lives can change because of an accident, illness, corporate downsizing, or even weather.

Even small changes can invite us to a stressful state. Think about how many times you have been asked to change your password for different computer functions. We call constant demands of the electronic world “digital soup”.  Digital soup is surmountable but it can be annoying and frustrating.

If you have changed residences, you have faced changing doctors, pharmacies, dentists, or banks. That means filling out forms, and forms, and more forms. We call it “the bureaucracy of change”.

Although we may not have chosen the change we face, we do have a choice about how we adapt to the change.

Strategies for managing change

     Begin by noticing.

  • Take a few minutes with pen in hand to reflect on what change(s) you have experienced in the recent months? Did you welcome or resist the change? Did you think of the change as major or minor? Did it involve only you or were others affected? Is the change likely short lived or likely to endure? Was the change initiated by you or imposed on you?
  • How would you describe your present way of managing change? What strengths do you have for coping with change – predicted or unexpected change? What kind of change is most difficult for you to handle?
  • What skill or resource would you like to add to the ones you already have that would enhance your ability to manage change?
  • Think of a change you are presently considering. It could be a career interruption or retirement. Perhaps you have decided it is time to change your life style and yet you simply stare at the scale each morning, dreading stepping on. Is there a habit you are wanting to develop or wanting to extinguish? How will you define success? Remember, success does not require perfection.

     Use the SMART formula.

With the New Year comes the inevitable adoption or avoidance of a new year’s resolution. What has been your experience with New Year’s resolutions? By mid-life many of us have abandoned the practice of promising ourselves change and falling short of a goal formulated in an inspiring moment.

What kind of change are you wanting to accomplish? It is possible to set goals for tangible outcomes. It is also possible to set goals for personal development. Whatever change you are implementing, it is useful to use the SMART formula.

The SMART formula for setting a goal is that it be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time sensitive.

The following two links will discuss the criteria in more depth and introduce you to writing “Smart    goals.”

https://www.atlassian.com/blog/productivity/how-to-write-smart-goals.

https://www.smartsheet.com/blog/essential-guide-writing-smart-goals

Now, take a moment to practice : Imagine your goal is to do more writing. Use the SMART formula to describe your goal.

     Expect setbacks and diversions.

The Truth is that plans always undergo successive approximations and seldom result in exactly what we imagine as a final outcome.

Successfully implementing change is never a linear matter. There are internal setbacks and external setbacks. Our attitudes, values, and behaviors are the source of our internal setbacks. External setbacks come in the form of obligations, policies, rules, and limited resources.

Each change in plans could easily conflict with our initial expectation, resulting in possible disappointment, frustration, and annoyance.

Taking on too many changes at one time and wanting change to happen quickly contribute to feeling like you are not making progress.

One way to deal with unknowns is to think outside of the box.

Consider viewing the attached youtube, “Why science demands a leap into the unknown” in which the speaker (Uri Alon) demonstrates the concept of accomplishing change using a visualization of the unknown as a natural part of reaching any desired outcome.

https://www.ted.com/talks/uri_alon_why_science_demands_a_leap_into_the_unknown – t-937674

     Consider a lighthearted approach.

Inviting change into our lives can be fun and rewarding. Even changes that we don’t welcome present opportunities to live life playfully.  When you have a setback, consider simply saying to yourself, “Ooops” and get back on track.

     Summary to remember

  • Things will always change over time; this is a natural occurrence.
  • We can only alter aspects of change that are under our control.
  • We can often influence the direction and speed of change.
  • Making small inroads to change can have large payoffs.
  • We don’t have to enjoy change initially; many times, it is worth the wait.
  • There are many ways for us to adjust our perceptions (the way that we view events).
  • We can embed fun into our change process.
  • Managing change is a skill that takes practice and commitment.
  • There is no rule preventing us from changing direction.

Research

This short research reflection points out that: people who write down their goals, are far more likely to achieve their goals.

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/achieving_your_goals_an_evidence_based_approach

Reading

Think of a change as a dream you are going to make real. Enjoy some creative suggestions in the book Make Your Creative Dreams Real by SARK.

Make-Your-Creative-Dreams-Real

The author says about the book I wanted to write a book to help all the creative dreamers make their creative dreams even more real….I have a lot to share about struggle and success, and the long flat places in between. My experiences as a recovering procrastinator and perfectionist give me a keen understanding of how they work to delay creative dreams (and why that’s sometimes a good thing).”

Writing strategy of the month: Questioning

Consider a change that you are already engaged in.

Write down as many questions as you can about the change and its consequences to your life. Aim for at least 15 questions. Be sure to include lots of open-ended questions as well as a few closed (yes or no) questions.

Set the questions aside for a day or two. Then, sit down and write your responses as if you are interviewing yourself. Then pause and reflect on what you are noticing about your responses.

Photo of the Month

Based on a change that you have already experienced, select one of your own photos that best tells the story of your involvement in this change. Write down the story as if you were telling it to a friend.  If you have a before and after photo, this is a great way of framing a story.