I’ve often quoted Rosa Beth Moss Kantor who said, “Change is disturbing when it is done to us, exhilarating when it is done by us.” Usually, I’m saying this to encourage leaders to get their people involved early in making positive changes for lasting impact. I also use it when working through changes within an organization to increase their level of commitment and engagement to the process. But what about when change is directly impacting you? Not something you sought out, or pre-emptively decided to work through, but something that occurs outside of your control but has a massive impact on your life?
Here are four simple steps you can use to navigate change more effectively and to find benefits that lead you to a positive outcome.
1. Assessing Without Judgement
The first step is to assess the change and facts of a situation without judgment. Get to the heart of the matter. Why is it happening? What’s the end goal? What are the current conditions? And what are the expectations for the future? Don’t project too many “what ifs” and “if onlys.” Now is not the time for speculation about what the future holds. Inspect the whole situation like a remote observer. Turn it over and upside down to see what’s really going on.
2. Reckoning With Your Reality
Once you have a clear understanding of the situation, it’s time to take inventory on how the change affects you. Check how the change compares to your values. Make sure your principles are still supported. Discover what non-negotiables you possess and ask yourself if the change pushes those boundaries. Be sure to focus on the reality of the situation and the actual impact on you, not a projected outcome. When a shift happens, it frequently evokes feelings that may have occurred in the past. It’s easy to allow those emotions to have a multiplying effect (either overly positive or negative) on the new change. This happens even if the circumstances aren’t the same. Magnified feelings can lead to a negative spiral of thoughts and actions that are counterproductive to handling the change. In turn, this makes it much harder to work through the process.
3. Focus On Positive Alternatives
Now that you know the elements of the change, how it fits with what you want, and what is most important to you – it’s time to focus on the positive. This isn’t a rose-colored glasses evaluation, but a real hard look at how you can make the most of the situation at hand. Successful people are resilient in this step. They find ways to effectively respond to reality rather than feel like a victim or focus on the doom and gloom of what it could mean. It’s critical to move into the positive alternatives of any change. If you hold onto the negative and have a half-hearted commitment because that’s what you want, it will slowly diminish your attitude and negatively impact those around you.
4. Having a Plan to Act
Maybe worse than having a significant change is the inability to take any action. As humans, we are happier taking action than we are waiting around. Studies show people are more satisfied waiting in long lines when they are informed of the wait time, than in short lines when there isn’t any information provided. Taking whatever action you can toward a positive outlook will give you a sense of control and influence over the situation.
It’s like being informed of a long line, even if the influence is small. You’ll be more energized than if you sit around waiting for the situation to change. It’s also similar to preparing for annual weather events. Think: fires in the west, hurricanes in the east, and tornadoes in the plains. Having a plan helps improve survival. It gives people a sense of control over their situation, even if the event itself is uncontrollable.
Overall, change is inevitable. It’s all around us, happening every day at faster and faster rates. You can survive, and even thrive, if you use these processes to positively impact your attitude. Navigating the change effectively and taking action with purpose allows you to thrive today and be more resilient the next time change occurs.
It starts with potential, not position. Develop your people at every level through leadership training that modifies their previous ways of working to improve work habits that achieve better outcomes for the entire organization. That’s the ADEPT difference. Learn more about our approach today.