Ten strategies for coping with change

Ten strategies for coping with change

Have you experienced any change in your life recently? These days, many people are experiencing a significant change in their lives as a result of the economy; whether you’re worried about work, retirement accounts or what the future holds.

Change, whether good or bad, usually brings some level of discomfort. There are always some unknowns with change. Most people are even afraid to change their bank accounts. This article focuses on change and resilience and provides tips for dealing with change productively.

Change is inevitable. In the past year, I have experienced more change than ever before. I quit my job after more than nine years, started a business, moved to a new house and got married. Even getting used to my new last name was a big change (I can’t count how many times I had to catch myself saying my name while being introduced). While all of these changes were positive decisions in my life, there was still a sense of the unknown. All these events brought challenges. I had the opportunity to choose a perspective on the change; Is it overwhelming and stressful, or exciting and fun?

There is a fear of change because it always involves something different that replaces the familiar. As author Kevin Cashman says, “change challenges our current reality by forcing a new reality to invade.” We all face change in our lives and leaders in organizations are no exception. In fact, a recent study by Lominger International revealed that the number one most important competency for leaders with the least supply today is “Handling Complex Challenges.” The leadership skills required for this competency include change management and adaptability.

Change is endless and constant. To succeed in life, we must be able to handle change. As leaders in organizations, we must be able to master change and develop resilience. Mastering change is the ability to learn, adapt, and apply what we learn to other circumstances. Cashman says, “It’s about developing an unshakable inner confidence that we can handle and learn from anything that comes our way.”

Below are ten strategies for mastering change and resilience:

  1. Step back, take a breath, and take a moment to think realistically about the impact of the change and the strategy for moving forward. We often get caught up in the change itself and cannot think clearly enough to develop a strategy.
  2. Shift your thinking from seeing change as a problem to an opportunity.
  3. Think about the different perspectives you might have about the change. What perspective do you choose to be in?
  4. Keep an eye on the long-term vision, not what the change does in the short term. How will your perspective be different in a year?
  5. Be open to learning. If we resist change, our energy is wrapped up in trying to maintain the status quo. Think to yourself, “What can I learn from this?”
  6. Change often causes stress. Ask yourself, “What can I control in this situation? What can I do to influence this situation? What should I accept about the situation?”
  7. Focus on the present moment. Don’t think about what happened in the past or what might happen in the future.
  8. Believe in yourself. Developing inner balance is essential to being resilient in the midst of change. Trust that everything will be alright.
  9. Improve your ability to respond to change. Stretch in small ways every day. How will you react to the terrible traffic? How will you react to trying something new?
  10. Be open to self-change. In any change experience, be open to learning and changing yourself. Ask yourself, “How can I grow from this change?

A five-year study of 97 active, productive people over the age of 100 conducted by Dr. Leonard Poon of the University of Georgia found that there are four common characteristics that influence resilience:

  • Optimism: They had a positive view of the past and the future and were not dominated by worry or negativity.
  • Engagement: They were actively involved in life, not passive observers.
  • Mobility: They stayed physically active.
  • Adaptability to loss: They had an extraordinary ability to maintain balance by adapting and accepting change and loss.

Change is here to stay. We can’t always control our circumstances, but what we can control is our perspective on change. The next time you’re faced with any kind of change, challenge yourself to think through different perspectives, then choose one that will help you manage the change productively. As Henry David Thoreau said, “Things do not change; we are changing’.

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