Change is an unavoidable constant in our lives. In our personal lives change can be major – such as getting married, moving house, ending a relationship or committing to a course of study. Or relatively small and insignificant.
At work we may experience change through our jobs or roles changing. Our organisations undergo restructures and set new strategies. New systems, processes and changes in responsibility are common. Even new colleagues bring new dynamics.
Some people actively welcome change. Perhaps those most in control of it will find it energising and exciting. For most, who have less control or none at all, it can be at the very least unsettling and often highly stressful. This tests our mental wellbeing and we need to know how to stay personally resilient and cope with any setbacks change throws at us. We need to learn to adjust.
Having started my new position as Director of HR and Training for Pick Everard five months ago I've experienced a high level of change myself during these past few months. And of course so has my team. Discussion of change, and how we can cope better with it has become an important conversation across the team.
John Fisher's Personal Transition Curve (2012) shows how we move through different feelings and stages when facing a change. How we travel through this varies from person to person. Indeed, across our HR team we're discussing how we often move back and forth between stages - from anxiety, to acceptance, on to excitement, then back in to fear or threat!
I share here some advice on how to better cope with change and become more ready for it:
Get inquisitive: research an upcoming change. Often, stress can develop out of fear of what is unknown. When we're well-informed about a change, it may be easier to face. Ask questions, seek to understand it.
Consider how much you can control. Can you have a say in the change? Is there a way that you can have some influence and involvement. This way, the change won't be done to you but with you.
Look after yourself: physically and mentally health. Being healthy in mind and body may make it easier to cope with changes in life. Sleeping well, exercising, and eating nutritional foods regularly may all be beneficial in improving both physical and mental health. Take time to relax.
Stay positive and look for opportunity: While the positive aspects of a situation might not be obvious to begin with, it’s worth seeking them out – no matter how small they might be. If you're facing worries or barriers consider an action plan or one step forward for overcoming them.
Recognise where you are in the transition curve: Reflect on and talk about where you are in the transition curve. Consider what you need right now. If you're in a difficult place develop coping strategies and recognise you will move forward.
Limit how much change you experience at one time: Where you can, keep a sense of routine and normality in other areas of your life.
Practicing different ways of thinking and being in the world can boost your ability to deal with change and help you create a life that is adaptive to new places and unexpected events.