So far, 2014 has been a year of change. Some things planned, some unplanned, and all part of the growing process. Change and I haven’t always been on the best of terms, and my latest column shares some thoughts on how I’m learning to better cope with new life seasons.
I am a creature of habit. While my work and personal schedules are full of variety, I have a daily routine that I like to follow as closely as possible. Get up at the same time each day, eat the same thing for breakfast, get my hair cut the same way each month. While some may call my routine predictable, I prefer to look at it as… controlled spontaneity.
I jest, but the reality is that I’m not always a fan of change. That being said, I do recognize the importance of change, and the necessity of the ‘metamorphosis’. I don’t know why so many of us are so averse to change, when change is the only thing in our lives that is constant. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said “change alone is unchanging.” Change will always be, and the more we fight it, the harder it is. You know the words ‘stress’ and ‘anxiety’? Quite often they’re the bi-products of not effectively dealing with and accepting change.
Although every individual deals with change in his own way, when you approach change with the right attitude, you’ll find handling change a whole lot easier. Here are a few tips on how to deal with change:
- Recognize that change is not instant; change is a process and it takes time. This is a big one for me. Ecclesiastes 3 starts out like this: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Some seasons of change will last longer than others (kind of like last winter). When I feel anxiety creeping in about an impending change (whether in my personal or professional life), I make an extra effort to remember that there’s a purpose for every season. Move to accept that change is not just going to automatically happen, like turning the lights on or off. Like some of the most worthwhile things in life, change takes time.
- Adjust your attitude. Even if it’s not a change that I think will be ‘good’, I’m learning to adjust my attitude toward change. Rather than dread it, try facing change with anticipation. When you have the right attitude, it can mean the difference between face-palm failure and shining success. Really, it’s a proven fact that positive thinking enhances your ability to channel creativity and work more efficiently.
- Don’t take cover; take advantage. You can run, but you can’t hide – change is unavoidable! You and I will never escape it. So, with this in mind, why not make the most of it? Look for the opportunities that come along with change. One technique that I find very helpful is charting change. Look where you are at the commencement of any major life change – birth, death, love, heartbreak, new job, retirement – and chart your journey. Some call it journaling. It doesn’t have to mean a lot of words; even just point form notes can help you focus on the positive aspects of change, and put that attitude of gratitude into action. You’ll be surprised at how being stretched can help build character.
In the end, you can’t control the changes and circumstances that will happen in your life, but you can manage your reaction to it. I love entrepreneur Jim Rohn’s approach to change: “You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.”