Written by Christina Bieche, MSEd, LCPC, NCC
I heard once that the Chinese character for the word “change” was a combination of two other symbols: chaos and opportunity. I’m not sure if it is correct or not but in theory, it makes sense. With all the new changes going on every day, it is almost impossible to not think about how our lives have been impacted and what that means for our futures both personally and professionally. We can most certainly choose to focus on all that continues to not go in our favor…let’s face it, that’s pretty easy to do in the world today. But what would happen if we could find a way to embrace change?
Did you know that “resistance to change” ranks as number four in a list of the most common career-limiting habits? When I read that…I immediately was reminded of how change is indeed a combination of chaos and opportunity. Those who are resistant, I feel, are only looking at one side of the equation. They are forgetting about the opportunity and focusing only on the chaos. Makes perfect sense as to why we would tend to resist change then…right?
If you think about it…change really is the only constant in life and nowhere is that more true than in our everyday lives. The pandemic alone forced us to be adaptable and learn new ways of accomplishing tasks and responsibilities on nearly a daily basis! Change is absolutely unavoidable, so resistance eventually becomes pointless. In order to be successful, we have to be willing to embrace change even when the outcome is still unknown. I don’t know about you, but for me, the unknown can be very scary. So, how do we move towards learning to understand and accept change?
Building Awareness & Recognize When You’re Resisting
For myself, a great first step is simply to recognize when change is happening and how I am reacting. If I am resistant, then I need to spend some time figuring out what’s beneath the resistance. Maybe it’s fear? Ask yourself why you are pushing back when everything around you is moving forward? It could just be that you have a lot of unanswered questions which can leave you feeling out of control. Remember…knowledge is power…seek answers!
Look for the Opportunity
Remember that change = chaos + opportunity. It’s a two-part equation. What potential exists within the change? This is exactly where your opportunity to shine lies! Embrace it!
Remove the Drama
An overnight, sudden change is much harder to handle than a gradual shift. Resist the urge to be negative and create more drama. When you see change coming your direction then be proactive. Do what you can to ease the transition, minimize the chaos, and enhance the opportunity.
Release Emotional Attachments
Do your best to let go of the feelings associated with the old way of doing things. It’s true…we find comfort in routine. Being comfortable often relates more to our emotions than to being rational. Remember that you’re endlessly adaptable and that growth almost always comes with discomfort. If you expect discomfort, like slowing down slightly before a familiar bump in the road, it won't send you flying when you hit it. Learn to simply go with the flow and see where the wave takes you!
Personally and professionally, I have experienced more change in the past several months than I ever imagined possible. I have definitely spent more time than not resisting the changes! But it always seems to come back to…where do I really want to focus my energy? How do I truly want the chaos in life to impact my everyday life? Is it chaos and unbearable or is it opportunity and just a little uncomfortable?
Sometimes, we simply need to adjust our perspective. Imagine sitting in a movie theater and watching a movie and then all of a sudden the movie stopped and all the lights went out. You may not see anything for a few seconds but gradually you start seeing the objects around you. This is because your eyes begin to accept the change and adjust to the darkness. Sometimes, it just takes time!
How do you feel about all the transitions in the world today? Chances are that if you wait for the motivation to feel better about all the changes...it’s never going to come! Especially since, motivation typically follows behavior. As we see ourselves doing things, we feel more confident that we can. So, don't just sit there, do something, but do something small…don’t overwhelm yourself. Take the big goal…obtaining a college degree, gaining financial stability, strengthening meaningful relationships, or improving physical health…and take it one moment, one step, one day at a time. Then, build up from there!
The best things in life come out of change, oftentimes, even the changes that are unwanted. We don't have to embrace change by diving into those cold choppy waters headfirst, but if we can start by just dipping our toes in, one foot at a time, before we know it, we'll be well on our way to arriving at our new destination riding on the wave!
Take care and take action!
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