Change… dealing with it, managing it, being more aware of everything that’s changing around us and then recognizing how we’re reacting and responding to the changes in our work and life.  Seems like a lot to ask of ourselves, especially now. It’s a lot of work! And it’s exhausting.

But (and you knew the ‘but’ was coming), in all of my career and executive coaching, and training work over the years, I would say that our ability to deal with and manage crazy work and life changes may be the most critical skill that determines our success in work and life.

So, I want to share a few thoughts about change. The subject comes up directly or indirectly in almost every coaching session. Often, it’s the elephant in the room.

When you think about it, we’re programmed for change. Just look at our environment. Consider the fact that the earth is spinning one rotation each day at about 1000 miles an hour; simultaneously, it’s whirling around the sun nearly once every year at around 67,000 miles an hour. We’re spinning and whirling. And I’m getting dizzy. Then let’s look at our bodies. Cells reproduce new organs in weeks and months, without us even being aware.

We’re wired for change. So, why do we so often struggle with it? In my experience, it’s related to the question, “How do you view change?” Your answer determines your attitude, level of confidence, and commitment. It’s the psychology and driver behind behaviors, decisions and actions (both good and bad). Changes (even the toughest ones) can be healthy, positive, and an OPPORTUNITY to grow, develop new skills, meet new people, and build our faith and character. We can list the positive changes in our lives: graduation, marriage, promotion, the birth of a child.

All too often, particularly recently, because of the pandemic, we see the THREAT/LOSS side of change: job loss, demotion, divorce, or a move. However, I’ve worked with clients who viewed their career setback or job loss as an opportunity to move on with their work and life, retool and find their passion. Not to say they didn’t have to deal with denial, bargaining, anger, fear, depression. However, their overriding attitude was one of viewing this change as an opportunity and a challenge (ACCEPTANCE). They were able to see the silver lining, and that’s the blessing of change for each of us.

To recap:

  • We are programmed and wired for change. Change is the one constant we can count on; without it we wouldn’t survive.
  • Change can be viewed as an OPPORTUNITY or a THREAT. It’s all about our perspective. How do you view change? Do you focus on opportunities or losses? Our perspective is directly related to the stress in our life. Resist change and create stress. Accept change and minimize stress.
  • No two of us view change the same, and that’s okay. We respond based on upbringing, beliefs, experiences and what’s happening in our work/life at the time.
  • We may not have control over the change event or circumstances surrounding it, but we control how we react and respond to work and life changes.

In the next issue of Catalyst, we’ll tackle how to shift our perspective from approaching change as a loss to one of opportunity. Studies have shown that five attitudes play essential roles in embracing change and minimizing stress in our work and life. These attitudes are 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. Remember, we’re wired for change, so a little self-nudge might be all it takes to put you on the right track to recognize the power you have over making change work for you.