How to cope with change

Do you struggle with change? If so this will make it difficult for you to lead your team through change.

I totally get you!

I have always been nervous of change. I naturally like order and find change hard to cope with because some disorder is almost inevitable.

In the past my perfectionist tendencies meant that I had to get everything back in order very quickly. This put me under lots of self generated pressure.

Plus, let’s be honest, there was a nagging voice telling me I might not be able to cope!

Once I started my leadership career I realised that no matter how I felt about change I needed to overcome that. It was my mission NOT to pass my concerns on to my team.

Over the years I have had many conversations with team members who have been gobsmacked to find out that I had been just as nervous as them. I worked hard not to show it!

As the leader your job is to help others through change. To do that you need to create a positive environment for the team.

Change is hard. It puts us in unfamiliar situations. And unfamiliar situations feel uncomfortable even when they are positive.

Very few people can honestly say that change doesn’t concern them. Often when you hear someone say this, it’s because they know that the change won’t affect them!

Here are a few suggestions for helping you, and anyone in your team to manage the fear of change.

Expect it to feel tough!
Expecting change to feel hard helps because it eases our discomfort. It allows us to assign responsibility for our discomfort to the right cause.

We can blame at least some of it on the fact that something is changing, rather than on the substance of what is changing.

This will result in questioning yourselves less. This in turn enables us to forge ahead with more courage.

Plus, when the going gets tough, we aren’t surprised. We can say to ourselves, “this is exactly what I was expecting. This is normal. I will feel better when this new situation feels more familiar. It’s just a matter of time.” And again, we feel better.

Prepare for change when possible.
If the change is planned taking some time to prepare really does help.
Think about what you can do to make it feel easier. Write down what the worst case scenarios could be and what you would do if they came to pass. Decide on your personal strategy for when things get tough.

Accept that change is happening.
The sooner we accept that change is happening, the sooner we can feel better about it. We have a tendency to hold on to the past because it is familiar. And familiar feels safe.

As long as we keep running back to the safety of the past (which often no longer exists except in our minds), we cannot move forward.
Gently accepting the fact that change is happening is helpful. Demanding that we accept it is not.

Gently accepting means facing our fears, dealing with them appropriately, and taking the time we need to deal with them. The sooner we get to a place of acceptance, the sooner we can take the next steps. The sooner we can move forward. Fighting change is tiring and pointless – put that energy into working out how to make the change feel good.

Cut yourself some slack.
When we’re going through change things go wrong. You will be coping with added pressure in managing the actual change as well as coping with the emotions of your team.

Be kind to yourself – you are a human being and not a machine. Things go wrong and you deal with them. Beating yourself up about it will only make you feel worse, and again will bring no tangible benefit.

Recognising that change is hard and making allowances for it helps. By cutting ourselves some slack, being gentle with ourselves, and giving ourselves a free pass once in a while, we are better able to make the transition.

Keep the familiar.
Change can feel jarring and can throw us off centre. The familiar feels comforting, and can re-centre us when we thrown off. So keeping what is familiar in the midst of change, sticking to a familiar routine, seeing familiar people, going to familiar places, really does helps.

Get help.
Some change is especially hard. The important thing is to get through them in the healthiest way possible. Sometimes, that means getting help from others – family, friends, colleagues, whoever. There is nothing wrong with getting help. It is the responsible and mature thing to do. Suffering silently and indefinitely when other options are available is pointless.

Find a new normal.
The familiar feels good because it feels normal. Change feels hard because it does not feel normal. As long as we keep trying to find the old normal in our changed situation, we will continue to struggle. Because the old normal no longer exists.

But a new normal is possible. When we establish new patterns for ourselves, those new patterns start to feel familiar. They become our new normal. And that new normal feels good too.

If you need help managing change, contact me to discuss how I can help you to overcome that challenge and many others. I have the experience to support you no matter what environment you work in.

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