Things are always changing. How many of us has had a job description that bears no resemblance to the role that we actually do? How many times have we decided on a particular course of action then something has come along and meant that we had to go in a different direction, whether wanted or not? For those who project manage, how many times has the scope of your project changed, and resulted in having to adopt different technologies or processes or had to be scaled back or scaled up? How many times has our personal circumstances changed over the years? Change happens all the time. Its how we respond to those changes that makes the difference.
My personal circumstances have changed over the years from being a child, leaving school for the workplace, changing jobs, changing partners, becoming a wife and a mother, going back to higher education, becoming responsible for the delivery of projects, becoming responsible for the delivery of service, becoming responsible for a team of staff, being responsible for bellringing activities locally, nationally and internationally.
If you’re not used to change though it can be uncomfortable. Kubler Ross’s change cycle likens the change process to the same phases that a person might go through the grief cycle: first the shock that something might actually happen followed by the denial that it will happen, the “how many times have I heard that one” scenario. This is followed by the frustration and anger when we realise that things are going to be different and then the depression of things that are happening that may be out of our control and the lack of energy to get involved with it. But then things start to look up again when we start to engage with what’s going on and start to get curious. Then we start to feel more positive about the situation as we learn more about it and experiment with how the new situation is going to work then we become fully integrated with the new ways of life. Of course, how long we individually spend in each of these zones is a purely personal thing and we don’t move on until we are ready no matter how hard someone else pushes.
Some people struggle with change as they fear that they may be losing something. It might be that they will no longer be the acknowledged expert in that field, or that they may be replaced by technology or a younger, cheaper model, or that they might not be able to cope with the change, particularly where new technology is involved. Where regular routine is changing some people might be fearful of a change in security or safety. People are likely to be more resistant to change if they are not involved in the process from the start. As well as being anxious, they can become downright obstructive.
Having a positive attitude to change means that we spend less time in the frustration, anger and depressing phases because our mindset is already moving on to finding what the positives are and how we can be involved and engaged with the change, and learn what the benefits are going to be. Looking to the past and accepting it for what it was is only useful if we learn from it and move on. Accepting and embracing change early on allows you to adapt more quickly and be more flexible. The more often we encounter change, the easier it becomes to adjust.
I find that resisting change takes far too much energy. Even if I don’t necessarily agree with the change that is being put forward, more often that not, its going to happen anyway, so I may as well accept that and make the best out of it. Who knows where it could lead ?
One thought on “Changing the Goal Posts”
Change is scary, one gets comfortable in the path well known. But change can be exciting too