By Luis S. R. Vas August 2004 Even people who say they need and love change can be stressed by it after a certain point. Even people who say they need and love change can be stressed by it after a certain point. Most of us didn’t learn much about the mechanics of change at home or in school; hence, we need training to deal with it now. Some of us spend much of our lives waiting for someone else to change so we will be happier, freer and more successful. We would truly prefer that the rest of the world changes first. Most people go through four stages when confronted with change: denial, resistance, exploration and acceptance. To determine your current change status, review the following statements. Which best reflects your attitude? Then read on to learn more about each stage. 1. I don’t believe that this change is necessary or that it will work. 2. I absolutely refuse to do as I have been instructed in light of the change. 3. I want to learn more about the change, review the pros and cons, and determine the implications of the change. 4. I think this change is working, as I think about it, I even think it makes a lot of sense. If you chose statement 1, you are clearly in denial. When confronted with change, most people refuse to acknowledge its need. If you chose statement 2, you are in resistance. It is one thing for you to deny the need for change and another to resist the change once it has been publicised and is under way. If you chose statement 3, you are in exploration, examining the advantages and disadvantages of the change. When confronted with a change, this is a healthy stage to be in. If you chose statement 4, you have moved on to acceptance of the change. In time, you may even begin to think of it as the new status quo. By knowing that these responses are normal and figuring out where you are in the process, you can adjust your behaviour to adapt better to change. If you find yourself dragging your feet when change has occurred, venting about it months after the fact, then you have to work on moving ahead to the acceptance phase. How to increase your adaptability to changeHere are the 7 keys to adapting to change successfully: 1. Choose differently: This begins with knowing that you choose to be where you are right now professionally and personally, and you choose your current work attitudes and lifestyle. So, it logically follows that you can always choose more positive attitudes towards the necessary transitions in your life. 2. Ask for help: Have the humility and willingness to ask for the help you need. You truly are not expected to know everything, so read a book. Hire a consultant. Take a course. Then take daily responsibility for current choices and new results. 3. Hurt enough for change: Former alcoholics and addicts call this ‘hitting bottom’. It does apply, even in less dramatic settings. If the life you are now leading has any ‘pain’ in it, that pain is usually a good motivator to cause you to look at thinking, being and doing differently. When you are sufficiently uncomfortable you may be ready to use the next key. 4. NEVER quit: Negative thoughts and beliefs are often part of mindset. So you must keep on one day, one idea, one change at a time. As with weight loss, quitting drinking, changing any lifestyle—changing procedures or directions—begins with a single step, and then proceeds in small, manageable increments. 5. Grab onto the new, let go of the old: Letting go is harder than hanging on. For change to be real and lasting, you must make a decision, a commitment, to let go of your old ways of thinking, doing, being and relating. 6. Embrace a new way: Find some joy in it to persist. It’s just like starting an aerobic or exercise programme: find actions and attitudes you truly enjoy so you’ll be able to continue enthusiastically for more than three weeks. Twenty-one days is the time it takes to install a new habit. It’s your responsibility to make the new way as positive as possible for yourself and your dependants. Make some fun! 7. Stop playing victim: No one did this to you—despite how much you want to blame the past, present or future—or whomever else you want to blame. Then, quite simply, get on with it… Serve others; surround yourself with positive supportive people.
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