Almost every day, I hear someone remark how fast the world is changing – and it’s true. It’s almost unrecognizable from our parents’ days, and even from the world we grew up in.
We live in a world far more touched by a constant state of change than any generation which has gone before us. Global communication and sharing of ideas combined with ever-increasing technology has given us a world that moves incredibly fast. Add to that the increasing world population, increased global competition and the pressure we all have on profits, and we have a world with its foot stuck firmly on the gas pedal!
Mind you, it’s almost certain that the current break-neck speed at which our world turns is the slowest rate of change we’ll ever have; things can only speed up even further from here – pretty scary, isn’t it?
Just to reinforce this, the compounding reality is that there’s nothing any of us can do to slow the rate of change – whether we like it or not, the roller coaster is here to stay!
The more change we have to deal with, the greater is the potential for us to feel stressed out. People are, by their very nature, resistant to change. We have our routines and our idiosyncrasies, and we hate to be taken outside our ‘comfort zones’. How many times have you heard a colleague say ‘well, we’ve always done it that way’, or refer to how something worked ‘last time’? When we have to mix things up a little, people get uncomfortable, so it’s understandable that this can create stress.
Even changes that improve people’s lives can create stress. For example, when someone gets a promotion and has to move to a new city, they not only have to deal with all of the changes to their new responsibilities at work, with a new boss, new relationships and new knowledge; their family must also deal with the changes involved in moving to a new neighborhood — new schools, new neighbors, new places to shop, new doctor, the list can be endless. While the overall result is a positive change, all these things almost certainly add pressure to a person’s home and professional life.
Given the fact that we can’t slow the rate of change down, what CAN we do?
The answer lies in our own ability to change from within – the way we handle or react to change. If you can’t change what we don’t like, there are only two things you can do. You can elect not to be part of the thing you don’t like (which in this case simply isn’t going to work!), or you change your attitude towards it.
Here are some ideas for how you might accomplish this:
– Find the benefits of the changes you are experiencing. Think of ways you can use those changes to make your life easier. Try to avoid fighting the change, and find ways to make it work for you. It’s much easier to ‘go with the flow’!
– Focus on learning to work with the change. The more you focus on ‘getting a handle on it’, the faster it’ll be second-nature.
– Think things through. When confronted with change, look at it as if it’s a chess game, when you need to think through the several moves in advance rather than just one. A lot of the time we create a stressful situation by making a judgement call without considering what the consequences will be.
– Keep open mind, and a positive attitude. Finding fault with a new idea or dismissing it is easy, but the better our attitude to it, the less of a chore it will be. As an added bonus, staying positive will have a positive effect on your career and relationships – no-one wants to be around a negative person!
– Recognize that change can be stressful. Accept that fact and give yourself permission to feel uncomfortable at the beginning.
– Helping those around you get used to the change will give you a better understanding of the change itself, will minimize the stressful side of it, as well as impacting well on your relationships.
“I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” is a quote from the classic poem ‘Invictus’, although most people remember it more as a line from the film ‘Casablanca’. Take ownership of your own attitude. You’ll only feel stressed if you allow stress into your life. By controlling your attitude, and your emotional responses, you will give yourself the best chance of getting the most out of change, and minimizing your stres`s levels.
Sure, change can hurt. But it is here to stay. The people and organizations who seek out the positives and embrace change will be the ones who see the most benefit from it. Will you be one of them?