I love changes, whether I create them or need to adapt to them. I believe that any change is a chance to wake up from my personal status quo, reflect, reassess where I am heading, and discover routines that no longer serve me. A change indicates an opportunity to find out how I can flex myself and the situation so that I live a happier and more fulfilled life. I see any change as a true soul-searching journey where I can find both my personal and external limits.
Is the journey always straightforward? Is the journey always easy? No! Of course, it is not, nor should it be. The harder the journey, the more memorable it will be, and the prouder and stronger we will feel after we have gone through it.
Some time ago, I asked people what changes they liked and what they did not like. The most repeated answers were:
The problem with change is that at the very moment it is happening, we do not know what the outcome will be. We often perceive it as meaningful because we believe it will bring a positive outcome. We see a link with how the change can improve our lives (or at least not cause deterioration).
But what if we do not immediately see the positive link between the change and our individual happiness? What if we do not believe that the change will be good for us? What if we need to adapt to such a change? Then we will get stressed. But why?
We are biologically programmed to perceive external change as a danger, like animals who scan their environments for a potential predator. Any change in the environment is a warning sign, and we are programmed to mobilise our forces so that we survive the danger. This creates stress, to which stress experts have identified three responses: Fight, Flee, or Freeze. (Fight = complaining, aggressivity, anger; Flee = avoiding certain situations, getting ill; and Freeze = no reaction, passivity, procrastination.)
Various researchers have shown that some people deal with stress easier than others. A study by psychologist Suzanne Kobasa showed that stress-resistant professionals exhibit The Three Cs: Control, Challenge, and Commitment. People who believe they are in control of their lives, who feel challenged and see an opportunity to learn at work, and who feel good about what they do and are committed to it encounter fewer negative effects of stress.
To cut a long story short, knowing that external change can create stress, and knowing that people with The Three Cs cope better with stress, I have been using the following technique to ease myself through the most difficult changes in my professional life. It helped me find myself in the change and enjoy the process.
Well, I admit, this is a fairly simplified description. It takes a couple of coaching sessions to get into the right mindset and rhythm.
I do not want to imply that all change needs to be handled as described above. Sometimes it is really better to leave and look for a different professional opportunity. At the same time, are not all these changes and challenges here to make us stronger? They are doing us one big favor – they are taking us out of our comfort zones. They give us opportunities to find out who we really are, and they offer us a chance to discover that we are capable of much more than we ever thought. So why not take this chance and finally learn what we need to learn?
In the end, it is just a game, and the more we play the game, the more we learn, the more comfortable we will feel, and the more likely we will end up with the best result.