Four Steps to Cope with Change

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
Benjamin Franklin

Joseph-Siffrein Duplessis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Joseph-Siffrein Duplessis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Franklin may have been one of the wisest Americans who has ever lived, but in this case, he was wrong. There is a third certainty:

Change.

Some change we initiate, and for good reason: a new job, a marriage, the birth of a child.

Some changes are forced upon us against our will: a layoff, a new boss, the death of a loved one.

One of the maxims in Spencer Johnson’s top-selling business book, Who Moved My Cheese (the book that managers like to give to their staffs before a round a layoffs), is that we must change with the change or risk becoming extinct.

This is easy to say when the change is good. But how do we do this when change is forced upon us?

Let me give you four steps for Coping with Change:

1)  Expect Change

The typical interpretation of the classic Aesop Fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper” is that the ant planned ahead, that he worked all summer gathering food so that in winter he would not starve.

Johannes Moreelse (after 1602–1634) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Johannes Moreelse (after 1602–1634) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Notice that the ant anticipated change, he knew that the good times of summer would not last. He expected it to change.

As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus (left) put it, “Everything changes and nothing stands still.”

The mice in Johnson’s book noticed that the cheese supply was dwindling even before it moved, so they were ready with their next move. The little people did not anticipate the change and were caught off guard.

Expect there to be change, and you can more readily adapt to it.

2)  Choose Your Response to the Change

Sooner or later, you must accept that the status quo is different.

In some cases, it may have to be “later.” Some change is tough to deal with. Embrace your emotions. Allow yourself time, if necessary, to grieve.

All change involves loss. Some loss is good (getting a better job, getting married); some loss is harder to replace (the economic security of a well-paying job, the death of a loved one).

Concentrate on the things you can control – exercise, meditate, pray. Punch a pillow (in the privacy of your own home). Write in your journal (but don’t publish it as a blog). Seek counsel with an objective third party (not someone who is involved in the change with you).

3)  Accept the Change

Don’t rush your feelings, but do understand that the sooner you can accept the new status quo, the sooner you can begin to be successful under the new status quo.

4)  Embrace the Change

All change creates opportunity. Search for that opportunity, be it the pot of gold or the silver lining.

Set new goals under the new paradigm. Establish new habits to work with the new reality.

Finally, pay attention and be ready, because Change will happen again.

Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

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