This article is a follow-up to “We’re Wired for Change So Why Does it Freak Us Out So Much?” We recommend you read that article first which delves into our different responses to change. Essentially, for some of us, our cup is half full, and for others it’s half empty. Why is that? Why do some of us focus on the silver linings of change, while others can’t see past the dangers and losses associated with a career change, job loss, end of a relationship, etc.?
To move forward, it’s imperative we look at adversity, challenges, the fear and loss associated with changes in work and life and find the opportunities. Recognizing that we’re all wired differently—optimists, pessimists, and everything in between—and products of our unique upbringings, experiences, successes and failures, anyone can move from viewing a change as a loss, to that of an opportunity. In ways large and small, we’ve all done it before, though we tend to lose sight of difficult challenges and changes in our life that we’ve successfully overcome.
Regardless of the hardship and sometimes terribly bleak landscape, there is always an opportunity. It starts with asking yourself, “How can I learn to accept changes, especially the ones that really test my perseverance, inner strength, faith and confidence?” “How can I shift my perspective, and move from resisting change to embracing it?”
But how? In one word it’s ATTITUDE. Now, I can see you rolling your eyes. It sounds like a bit of a cop out. That’s the answer we hear for almost everything that’s ailing us. But it’s true and it works! Let me share some ATTITUDE strategies that have worked for clients, students in my classes and for me personally.
This is a quick overview from a chapter in my book “Find Your Story, Own Your Voice….” which is integral to our coaching program of the same title, and that lays this out in its entirety.
Various studies have shown that there are five attitudes that play important roles in the psychology of change, our health and personal wellbeing, and in our ability to embrace change and minimize the stress in our work and life. By focusing on the 5 Cs—Challenge, Commitment, Control, Confidence, and Connection—we can fill the void left by the losses we experience (i.e., finances, security, skills, responsibilities, relationships) and work through the emotional roller coaster associated with change (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance).
Challenge. Be open to change. Look at it as an opportunity (not a threat), a test of your inner strength, perseverance, faith and determination. Accept the change, regardless of how you feel about it, and rise to the challenge. Make a list of the specific losses and gains. Accept, reconcile, and process the losses (and the emotions). Even wallow in them for a bit so you’ll be able to move past and even bless them, and then refocus and lean into the direction of the opportunity, or “new beginning.”
Commitment. Be an active participant in your work and life, versus standing on the sidelines, as an observer. Take action even when you’re not quite up for it. Set daily and weekly goals (particularly in the case of a job search). Know what’s happening around you.
Control. Recognize that you do have an impact on external change and what happens in your life. We have control over how we view and react to change and its effect on our lives. A famous research study from the University of Chicago indicated that people who demonstrate Challenge, Commitment and Control have one-half the incidence of illness as those who don’t incorporate them into their work and lives.
Confidence. If we are comfortable with who we are, weaknesses as well as strengths, and with others, we’re less likely to put our personal worth on the line for any situation. We need to be able to separate our personal worth from any given situation, success, failure, and change. This is confidence in the truest sense.
Connection. Focus on your interactions with others and your surroundings, all your networks and relationships. It’s critical to want to keep learning, to get involved, to meet people and extend ourselves. For many of us this can be a stretch, so we must use our personal power to reach beyond our comfort zone and recognize we have the control.
Some of the 5Cs may seem out of reach when you’re hiding under the bedcovers. Try to embrace that all five attitudes are natural. Our minds and bodies are programmed to grow and succeed. We’re wired for change but sometimes we need a nudge in the right direction. We sometimes become victims of our circumstances, experiences, routines and problems. Ultimately, we can move from resisting to embracing, managing and accepting the changes we’re faced with, and one way to make that shift in perspective is through the 5 Cs, our ATTITUDES. Go for it!