Change is the only constant. Yes!
Sometimes, they are small, practically imperceptible changes, of which we do not see the impact in the short term. Other times it is such a huge change that it leaves us freezing and fearing. But change is almost the only thing that is always there.
In the crazy context many of us are living, how many times we try to adapt to what just happened only to realize that something different is coming? And that we have less and less time between changes?
Sometimes we are prepared to deal with these changes. We are waiting for them, or we have even had an active part in their occurrence. Other times they knock on our door without giving us much choice. And those are usually the worst. Those we do not expect.
There are three types of reactions to a change
In general there are three types of reactions to a change, and in many cases all three occur simultaneously: Don’t want, I can’t, Don’t know.
The first responds to our emotions: why do things have to change? Why do I have to step out of my comfort zone? Why do I have to do things differently if everything has gone well for me so far?
The second responds to what I think I am capable of: am I ready to do things differently? To behave differently? Do I know how to do this again?
The third has to do with what I think and with the need to understand: what will happen to me in the future? What will be the consequences of this change? Why has it happened?
In reality, the three reactions are different mechanisms — emotional, behavioural and cognitive — of protection triggered by our fear of change. As I do not know what will happen, I did not expect it and also I do not know if I will be able to cope with it, I’d rather stay still.
But most of the time, the worst thing we can do is stay still. The worst decision will probably be better than deciding nothing, than doing nothing.
Why? Because we avoid the work of adapting. And without adaptation we are condemned not to overcome change. When fear paralyses us, we stop making decisions and put ourselves at the mercy of circumstances. And in an environment with many ups and downs it does not seem the best option. So the first question may be: what options would you have if you weren’t afraid? And here curiosity could be a great travel companion.
Thinking about our options, looking to the future and detaching ourselves from the past puts us in a different place. And from that place, we can begin our journey.
Adaptation is a job in itself
It is true that adaptation is a job in itself. And there are certain things we can do to help ourselves a little.
Starting with what seems easiest to me, which is our rationale, we can build our vision of the future and define our goals, taking into account changes. What do we want for ourselves? How would it be? What things would we have to do differently? What can I take advantage of the new situation to help me get where I want?
From there, I can take care of my skills: What do I need to know how to do differently to meet my goals? What do I have to train in? Who can I learn from?
And finally explore my emotional side. Usually when I see the goal and have made the plan, my perception of how things are changes: I have acquired a security that I did not have before. I know what I have to do and that helps me in wanting to do it. Let’s say that I have set the path and the perception of the journey (sometimes through a desert) changes.
Ultimately, of the three dimensions, the emotional side is the most important. And the one that will determine if we will finally be able to adapt to the changes or not. The question here is: do we have the option not to adapt? In my opinion, if we want not only to survive (and not only at work but in our lives) but also to achieve our purposes, the answer is no.
Like everything, this process is something that is learned, built and trained. And you, have you ever thought about how you deal with changes?