Turn and Face the Strain: Five Tips For Dealing With Change

By Heather Foley

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I can’t say that I’m very good with change.  I read the same newspaper day after day; I always order dessert in restaurants; and if my local store stops selling my favourite coffee brand, I will not be happy.  But, I do accept that change is, at times unavoidable and necessary.  What’s more, being able to deal with change is in greater and greater demand.

For many people, (and you may be one of them), change can cause stress and worry. It needn’t, though. Following these five suggestions will take you from fearing change to embracing it!

1. Accept it

Even Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, knew that change was inevitable when he proclaimed, “the only constant in life is change”.  You can easily put this theory to the test.  Try to think of any aspect of your professional (or personal) life that hasn’t changed over the years. It’s difficult, isn’t it? Given this, the first stage in dealing with change is to come to terms with the fact that it’s inevitable, and a necessary part of life.

2. Open your mind

Change is often frightening or stressful because we think we can predict the outcome, and we worry it may not be a happy one. However, if you open your mind to consider all of the potential outcomes, you’ll find that there’s often at least one really positive potential outcome.

Focus on all of the potential positive things that could come from a change. It may be that you’ll have more time or money; or you may have the opportunity to learn something new. You may find you’ve discovered your ideal job or your next career move.

The more you focus on the good things that could happen, the less you’ll worry about change and the more you’ll make good, positive choices.

3. Take control

Sometimes, change is thrust upon you. Sometimes, you choose change. Either way, you are not powerless. Spend some time considering the things that you can actually do to make sure that the change is good for you. If there’s a re-shuffle at work, think about what role you’d really like and apply for it. If there’s been a change of contact at your biggest client, find out how you can ensure that s/he wants to buy even more of your goods and services. Try to see that change is something you can take control of.

4. Try it

Probably the most difficult part of change is taking that first step. You’ll find, though, that once you have, things are rarely as difficult as you feared.  Ensure you have a clear goal, of getting the best out of the change.  You’ll often find that many more positive things happen than the negative ones you feared.

5. Worst case scenario

Each time you face change, and feel nervous, ask yourself “what’s the worst that can happen?”.  It will be a revelation.   Thinking about how you would deal with the worst outcome will help you to see that, after all, change will never be that bad. If you can deal with the worst, you can certainly deal with anything else.

If you’re someone, like me, who dreads change, it may be time to confront your fears.  Apply for that job you always wanted, learn that new skill that you always planned to and try saying ‘yes’ to the next difficult project. Nothing is set in stone.  Change is, indeed, an inevitability, no matter what we may think.  In the words of Stephen Hawking, “I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road”.  Good luck in making those changes.

Heather Foley is a consultant at ETS, a 360-degree feedback specialist

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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