“Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.” Unknown
I was working with a client on Skype last night. We reviewed our work together over the last 6 months. We both realised the profound change she had made to her life merely by changing her job. She had been in a small company where her talents and expertise were overlooked and neglected. She had been poorly managed – I suspect because the business owner either didn’t realise the value and significance of what she offered or much more likely, knew and wanted what she offered but wasn’t willing to pay the price of change to make things happen.
She is now in a much larger company where her talents are very much appreciated and she is making significant contribution to the wealth and health of that company.
We live in interesting times. At this moment, European leaders are attempting to save the Euro. And yet in my perception, the relationships of each of the countries in the EU to each other has already undergone a dramatic change with the exit of David Cameron and the UK. I can’t help wondering whether he has provided a very useful scapegoat “pour encourager les autres”. Already I hear that Polish people have been demonstrating because they fear that the stronger political ties that are being agreed to by their leaders in a bid to save the Euro will mean tighter control from Germany (the shades of history loom large).
Whatever happens, we are in a new world where the balance of power is shifting and changing. And we need to adapt to the change.
Change happens whether we like it or not – even Joan Collins’ face ages, however much she tries to look an unblemished 35. Sometimes you can experience big, jolting changes and at others you have quiet, hidden changes you don’t notice until you review and evaluate your life.
You might think that being in control of your choices – going to university, moving house, going on holiday – make change easier to cope with. Having choices is empowering. However, a successfully managed change can get quite as stressful as a change that comes out of the blue. You may have carefully planned an exit strategy from your business only to discover you are feeling overwhelmed and very vulnerable. The impact of sheer exhaustion leaves its mark. Though the mightiest challenge is to give up your old way of life to make room for this new time-rich and routine free existence.
And however successful you’ve been in preparing for the big changes, you have to expect the unexpected – the visa that doesn’t arrive in time, the plea from your CEO offering big money for you to stay, the Rolls Royce from the hire car company breaking down on your wedding day.
To welcome your new life, it’s important to let go of the old one. This is an opportunity to de-clutter the past; to let go of ideas, people, objects that keep you anchored in a past that is over and gone. Jungian thinkers call this phase ‘liminality’ – that doorway between one settled state and another.
Change is scary. Even if the past makes you unhappy, it is still familiar and known. When you stand in that doorway, you are vulnerable. It is the time of greatest learning about life.
This is where resistance can worm its way into your consciousness. Change happens whether we like it or not. When you go all out for what you want, resistance (another word for fear) will try to undermine and weaken your resolve. You’re out there on that trapeze in mid-flight between one swing and the other when resistance tells you that this is stupid, doomed to fail. If you falter, resistance wins and you’ll fall. And maybe you need to fall a number of times before you discover that you were right and you can succeed.
So welcoming change is to welcome growth; is to welcome the strength of character that brought it about.
- Take care of your health – keep relaxed and fit. Change can be stressful, even happy change.
- Decide what positive thing you want out of this experience and keep focused on that.
- Make your plans though be ready to change them too.
- Make sure that your expectations are realistic.
- Meditate, do self-hypnosis, do yoga – anything to develop your intuition and creative thinking – you’ll need to be flexible to adapt to the changes.
- Recruit others to help you. Sometimes getting advice and understanding can put things in perspective.
- Don’t rush. This is a profound process so don’t expect to be able to adapt quickly.
- Keep blame and guilt out of this – of you or others. You have enough on your plate right now. The blame game will only make the resistance stronger and you will suffer for it.
- Stay grounded – form a new routine or tradition. These rituals keep you anchored and sane. Come up with some that are fun and replenishing.
- Make a list of all the changes you have successfully mastered. This overcomes resistance and strengthens your resolve.
- Be gentle with yourself. This is a stressful time so be compassionate, patient and tolerant.
Heraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher is famous for his insistence on ever-present change in the universe, as stated in his famous saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice”. Change is a natural part of life. It is happening all around you all the time. How you respond to it determines your happiness and peace of mind. Resist change and you will suffer. Welcoming change eases your stress and helps you move through your change in a healthy way. Graciously welcome it and you will flourish.