Shift Happens: 5 Ways to Handle Change
by Jamie Spannhake
October 25, 2019
This post first appeared at Attorney at Work on Friday, October 25, 2019.
Shift happens — the only constant is change. This can be hard for us. Change often feels like a problem to solve, or an obstacle to overcome. But the real problem and obstacle is the belief that things will remain the same. They won’t. They don’t.
Here are five ways to handle change gracefully and with less stress.
1. Expect it
Things don’t stay the same. Everything in life is a phase. This can be great when we are in uncomfortable phases, when “this too shall pass” is comforting to us. But when things are going great, our knowledge that things will change can be stressful. In part because we fear we may not be able to handle change, and in part because we like the way things are. But here’s the truth: Whether you try to stop change or create change, change will happen. Sometimes it will be a shift for the better, and sometimes it will be that four-letter word that is similar to “shift.” No matter the change, you will handle it. You have a lifetime of evidence that proves it. So, expect change without attaching stress to it.
2. Recognize it
It is important to recognize that our negative reaction to certain situations may be simply a negative reaction to the mere fact that things are changing. It may not be that the change is bad. It may only be that we are holding on to the way things were.
3. Embrace it
Once you recognize that your negative reaction might be to the fact of change, not the substance of the change, you can work on embracing the new situation. Look at the facts of the change. Will they make things better in the long run, even though it will mean you must work through the change itself? If so, get to work on the change with that end in mind. If the change will be substantively negative, you still must embrace it and work with it, not against it, as change is inevitable. Of course, you can try to stop the change — that is sometimes possible. But some changes are inevitable, and no matter what you do, the change will happen. When presented with an inevitable change that will have a substantively negative result, start working on and focusing on how to make it as good as it can be.
4. Welcome it
This one can be really hard. It is for me. I can expect change, and embrace it, and move forward from there, but I still do so with a sigh of regret. I don’t want change to come along and “mess things up,” especially when they are going so well. But a failure to welcome change ultimately causes stress, which makes the change itself, as well as the handling and resolution of it, much more difficult. Reframe your thoughts about change to view it as opportunity — opportunity to problem-solve, opportunity to be creative, opportunity to help someone, opportunity to grow.
5. Learn from it
When you view change and your handling of it as an opportunity to grow, you can learn from it. As time goes on, you will become more adept at handling change, and more accepting of change. These lessons will reduce your stress and make you a master at handling change.
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