Sometime change is self-chosen, and oftentimes it is thrust upon us. Whether the need for change is welcomed or not, it is an inevitable and necessary part of work and life. We all have to adapt.
The good thing is, you’re already very good at it. Humans are adaptive by their nature. Not only in terms of evolutionary change, but your brain is ‘plastic’ and capable of adapting day to day. Your brain is like a muscle and all muscles benefit from a workout every now and again.
Responding to change is best seen as another form of learning: a problem needs to be solved and it requires a new way of thinking, or a different response.
THE GROWTH MINDSET
Dr Carol Dweck coined the term ‘growth mindset’ after studying the behaviour of thousands of children, and specifically their beliefs about failure. She found that the most resourceful people are those who believe that intelligence, skill, and capability are leaned and developed, rather than set. We are all capable of making big changes if we are willing to put the work in.
To improve our relationship with change, the key is to foster a growth mindset that welcomes change as an opportunity – a chance to learn, develop new behaviors, and learn new skills.
As the writer George Bernard Shaw said, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”.
Here are six strategies to help you learn to love change.
- ALWAYS BE LEARNING
‘Life long learning’ is now more important than ever. Continual growth and development helps you become more creative as it helps you gain fresh perspectives on a problem. It also helps ensure your brain remains flexible.
- BE PROCESS ORIENTATED
Just as learning follows a curve, change follows a process. Begin by getting clarity on your ideal outcomes: what specifically needs to change? (behaviors / systems / structures?). Then be strategic – what specifically needs to happen in terms of process or sequence?
- FAVOUR ‘SMALL STEPS’ (AND ‘QUICK WINS’)
Keep things as simple as possible and always be thinking: what one thing within my control can I do right now?
A ‘formula’ for making change easier might be written as:
VISION (success) x PAIN (of not changing) x FIRST STEP (the one thing)
Be clear on your outcome, consider the costs of not changing, and then find the simplest the first step with the fewest obstacles to progress. As soon as you feel you’re making progress, momentum and motivation will become your ally.
- ANTICIPATE SETBACKS
Things may be hard, and you may have setbacks and delays. Try to manage any ‘fear of failure’ you may have. The best learning comes from making mistakes, and so ‘failure’ only ever means ‘not yet’. Iterate, test, and repeat, and be persistent. Change only ever comes through taking actions and experimenting with new behaviors.
- COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support, and always seek feedback from others. Other people can help you see things in a different way, and this will help you gain a more resourceful perspective.
- TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Change can be stressful. Ensure you take care of both your brain and yourself. Get enough sleep, make time for exercise, and prioritise the things that make you happy. Your resilience and longer term adaptability is dependent on you making time for the things that will allow you to recover.
Change provides a valuable opportunity for self-development and growth, but it doesn’t happen by itself. As Andy Warhol once said, “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”