Be Empowered for Change
Here's how you can cope with life's curve balls
In case you didn't already know, you have a choice in how you cope with the many changes in your life. You can either resist change, causing stress and tension in the process, or you can go with the flow, and let change happen to you. Or, you can set a great example for others, and proactively embrace the changes that you're experiencing.
It's difficult and uncomfortable adjusting to a situation that requires change, regardless of whether it will have a minute or substantial impact on your life. In your personal life, change may apply to moving house or a divorce, and in your professional life it could mean new responsibilities or a new business system you need to familiarise yourself with.
While changes can sometimes be exciting and planned, they can also be anxiety-provoking and overwhelming. The first step to coping with change is to understand the process of change and how it affects you. Making changes in your life, for the good, takes time and requires a lot of determination and perseverance.
There are four distinct stages of change in these situations - denial, disruption, exploration and rebuilding. Here's a closer look at each of these:
This is the first stage, where most people don't recognise the need for change. Some may be adamantly resistant to the change required, even though everything indicates that change is inevitable, like divorce papers having been filed, or your employer requesting that you undertake training in a new business system.
People who are in denial impose their own value systems and can make negative comments about the change required.
Strategy: Prepare a list of the short-term benefits versus the long-term consequences of life remaining as is.
The second stage is disruption. This is when you may recognise the need for change but feel threatened by it. This may be because you feel unprepared, unskilled, unloved or inferior. Internal defences come to a head at this point. This is a stressful and unpleasant stage.
Strategy: Prepare a list of the long-term benefits of the change occurring.
The third stage is exploration, when you finally accept the need for change as real and significant. You may find some of the reasons hard to deal with, but you're not threatened by them and you no longer view the other people involved as inferior or wrong. You become more sympathetic, tolerant and neutral.
Strategy: Think about what life would be like if you successfully achieved the required change. Write down how life would be different.
The fourth stage is rebuilding and in this final stage, you shift from being neutral to being positive. You accept the change process and adjust your own behaviour because of it. You are able to empathise with others and become adept at flexing your style depending on who you're with.
Strategy: Explore the strengths and resources that you currently have access to that will help you continue on this path of change.
Consider a recent change you've experienced in your personal or professional life. Where do you think you belong on the stages of change? Denial, Disruption, Exploration or Rebuilding? Be honest with yourself as this is the only way to really move forward.
When you identify what stage in the change process you are at, consider what it would take for you to move onto the next stage. What do you need to do to move forward? When you've identified helpful strategies, choose something that you can start today.
You may find that you move through the stages in sequence, but sometimes we fall back a couple of steps the our pursuit of changing our lives. Instead, use any setbacks as a learning opportunity to strengthen current coping ?strategies and put mechanisms in place to facilitate the change process.
(Oksana Tashakova, founder of Wealth Dynamics Unlimited, is a personal branding expert and entrepreneurial educator.)