“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten”- Bill Gates
Change is an unescapable constant in our work lives. Sometimes it’s within our control, but most often it’s not. Dealing with change can be extremely distressing. Our jobs or roles change — and not always for the better. Our organisations undergo revamp their strategies and we need to adjust.
So why do people find it so hard to change when they know it’s good for them?
Most people resist change because it threatens their natural habit patterns. Whether it’s a new role, a new car, a new routine, your brain has to work overtime to learn to adapt to the change. Even when faced with a life-threatening situation, people tend to resist change despite knowing the consequences.
Studies reveal that when heart disease patients who had undergone traumatic bypass surgery were told if they did not adjust their lifestyle they would die, or at best undergo the life-saving procedure again, only 9% modified their behaviour. We see this every day in organisations experiencing change.
At the same time, human society is one of constant change. Navigating change, both personally and professionally, requires you to form new habits, and that requires some discomfort.
In order to navigate change, keep these below thoughts in mind:
- You can’t counter emotion with logic.
When we go through change, we often fear the unknown. People may tell us that the change rationally makes sense. However, that does little to ease the discomfort associated with it. Give yourself time to process any feelings you are going through. Get inquisitive as to why you feel anxious or scared. Don’t judge your feelings, just observe them. This is the first step to embracing change.
- Identify what’s in it for you.
Even when we know a change is good, it’s easy to resist it, we prefer our easy old habits. Take time to identify your W.I.I.F.M. (What’s In It For Me). This will be motivational for you and will keep you going through the uneasiness. If you can’t identify a positive advantage, ask what loss or negative result you are trying to avoid.
- Identify blockades and proactively manage them.
Let’s say your goal is to get slimmer. This might mean exercising more, and eating better . Even though we know these are good for us, the barriers of time, laziness or life get in the way. Trying to eat better? Plan your meals so that you have healthy food options wherever you are. Too tired to go to the gym after work? Don’t worry, exercise will help you get better sleep.
- Surround yourself with the right people.
We all have energy drainers in our lives. These people are full of drama and stress. They are toxic and will make change extremely difficult. Identify the people in your life who drain your energy and distance yourself from them. Equally, identify those who make you feel supported and spend more time with them.
- Keep the big picture in mind.
Change can seem daunting. It is easier to look back with perspective when we made it through change and call it growth. Keep this in mind as you face difficulty, challenge, and change in your life. So far, you’ve crossed every change thrown your way. That’s a pretty good track record.
Remember, in order to behave differently, you have to think differently. We can form new habits and reskill our brains. It just takes courage to step outside our comfort zones. Change can be terrifying, but by taking some time to proactively manage the process, you can set yourself up for success.