Right now many of us are faced with massive amounts of change in our careers. Layoffs, downsizing, off-shoring, reductions, budget cuts. It can be overwhelming. Although there are many factors that go into dealing well with change, I’d like to focus on two specific issues that I feel have the biggest impact in a person’s ability to effectively adapt to change.
1. Face the hard facts. I see a lot of pain created in peoples’ lives when they fight the inevitable. Unwilling to accept the changes that are thrust upon them, they complain, they stress, they fight and struggle, they get depressed and they get beaten down. Although it is exceedingly difficult to do it, the best way to deal with change is to simply accept it and begin adapting to the new normal. I do a lot of work in the healthcare industry, a sector of our economy that is undergoing gut-wrenching and incredibly overwhelming changes. Some of my health care clients are seeing their entire organizations turned upside down and their employees nearly paralyzed with fear and unwillingness to accept the changes. Budgets have been slashed, patient satisfaction is dropping, and employee satisfaction is nonexistent. Yet others are adapting to the change magnificently because they have instilled in their workforce a clear concept that things are never going back to the way they used to be – these changes are unassailable – so don’t even try to resist! Instead they help their people learn to spend all of their energy and emotion on adapting to the changes and finding a way to make things as good as they possibly can even in the face of incredible challenges. It works exactly the same with you in your career; you can fight it and be miserable, or accept that change is inevitable and become a master of change.
2. Figure out what you can control. One of the major factors that makes change so difficult is that it gives people a feeling of helplessness. One day everything seems fine, and then the next day someone four levels up in the organization makes a change that has a terrible negative impact on you. Again, I see great pain created in people’s lives when they spend a significant amount of their time worrying, complaining, fighting and getting highly stressed over situations that are completely out of their control. The best technique I know to deal with this issue is to sit down and write out a long list of all the things that are giving you stress and anxiety in your life. Then take a long hard look at each of them and decide whether you can control or cannot control this particular item. If you cannot control it, then you must learn to have the discipline and courage to completely let go of it. Do not obsess about it, do not think too much about it, do not worry too much about it – simply keep telling yourself this is not something you can really do anything about – so you should let go of it and put it out of your mind. How do you put it out of your mind? By then looking at the other list of items that you can control – and taking massive control of those. Stressing yourself to death about the economy, politics, the ozone layer, the weather, taxes, other people’s opinions of you … this will only drive you crazy. Instead take all of that emotional energy and focus intently on the areas of your life where you have control.
If you will follow these two pieces of advice you should become much more adept at dealing effectively with change.