Just the word “change” can actually cause people to experience stress. Change simply means to make or become different. That doesn’t sound so scary, does it? But, if it isn’t scary, then why is change dreaded and difficult?
I believe, the answer is – FEAR. We fear:
- The unknown
- The discomfort that change may bring
- Additional stress that change can add to our lives
So, we think it’s easier to stay in a situation where we are not happy, than it is to change.
Often change is forced upon us – it’s involuntary. We didn’t want it, but it shows up on our doorstep uninvited and forces us to adapt. Here are some involuntary changes you may face:
- Your employer is going out of business
- Your spouse becomes terminally ill
- A child is born disabled
- Your business is going bankrupt
- The skill you have is outdated and no longer relevant in the marketplace
All of these things will force you to change. You will have to find a new job, become a health advocate for your spouse, find programs and resources that will help you handle a disabled child, lose everything and start over again or go back to school to learn a new skill.
The world doesn’t stand still and change is going to occur. So, I believe we are better off trying to look at change differently. Try to look at it as opportunity in disguise. Think back on your life and you will see that you have changed constantly since the day you were born. That isn’t going to stop – at least it shouldn’t. So, when change rears its ugly head, learn to stare it in the eyes and look at it as an opportunity.
What is your outlook?
- Is your glass half full?
- Is it half empty?
- Is it bone dry?
Your outlook will help determine how you are going to handle change. If you are always looking for the downside and expecting the worst, that is what you will likely find. So, consider changing your attitude as the first step in learning to handle change.
Just think of the many companies that have had to, or are beginning to, handle change:
- Bookstores – how are they handling the internet and Kindles?
- Libraries – many are turning into career centers
- Telephone companies – had to expand beyond selling the home phone mounted on the kitchen wall
- Travel agencies – many have gone out of business, but others have adapted to threats such as Travelocity
- Mom-and-pop stores have learned to change to handle the loss of business to internet retailers or big box retailers. If they didn’t change, they are likely no longer in business
So, change will happen whether we want it to or not. Try to look for the opportunity that the change can bring to you personally, to your organization or to your community. We must continually reinvent ourselves to remain relevant.
President John F. Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” Sounds like wisdom to me!