In this issue ~~
* Transition and Change
* Creative Tip
* Wise Words
Nobody likes change. Most of us are resistant to it. But,
for better or for worse, change is here to stay. So, as much
as we don't want it, it's in our best interest to understand
and develop ways to deal with change and transition.
Change happens again and again throughout our lives. These
changes may be self-chosen or imposed upon us. Change can happen
quickly, or it can take some time. And with each change comes
a period of transition, where you get used to a new way of life,
a new way of being, new people and situations.
To add to it, we're in a time of transition on the planet.
Change seems to be constant these days. As I walk through my
neighborhood, it seems that not a day goes by that something
hasn't changed – a shop closed, a different restaurant where
an old favorite used to be, an entire block torn down. Last year,
even the old family pharmacy across the street, which had been
there for 3 generations, was razed to build a high-rise apartment
If you're lucky enough to transition over a period of time,
you'll go through 3 stages: an ending, an in-between stage and
a new beginning. The in-between stage can be uncomfortable; you're
neither in the old nor comfortably established in the new.
I recently bought a new computer. There was a period where
I was setting up the new computer, getting all my new software
working and transferring files from the old one. For a time,
it was chaotic, as I moved from one computer to the other to
get things done. Eventually, the new computer was completely
up and running and I was able to let go of the old. It was nerve-wracking
for a couple of weeks, but the new computer is so fabulous, it
was worth the trouble!
Change puts us face-to-face with the unknown and uncertain.
It shakes us up and threatens our sense of control. When we go
through too many changes too fast, it can put us into crisis.
The more prepared we are to deal with change, the more elegantly
we'll move through it. Here are some suggestions:
~ Stay grounded. Find stability where you can. While I've
changed careers several times, I've found my stability by living
in the same apartment for over 25 years and the ongoing community
with my neighbors. You may find your stability in your relationships,
your family, your community, your job, your geographic location,
your spirituality, your values.
~ Manage your expectations. If you expect things to be consistent
and predictable, the unexpected changes will throw you. Be open
to the possibility that you will confront change, perhaps on
a daily basis, and make internal and external adjustments to
deal with that.
~ Be flexible. There was a time when you could make plans
and follow through. With changes often surprising us now, it
helps to have contingency plans. Have goals and visions, for
sure, but be relaxed and pliable with them. Allow new and different
possibilities to come your way. Use your creativity and imagination
to brainstorm different ways of getting where you want to go,
and don't allow the detours to discourage you or lead you to
feel your dreams are impossible. Consider that the change may
offer you opportunities that your original plan didn't.
~ Create a safety net, particularly in the areas where you
feel most vulnerable. Build your nest egg. Solidify your support
system. Have a Plan B, and maybe a Plan C and D. With the inability
to take anything for granted these days, it gives us peace of
mind to have some options in place.
~ Keep your eye on the horizon and be honest with yourself
if change seems inevitable. As scary as that may be, facing it
unprepared is even scarier. Exercise control where you can by
making active choices. Gather information. Learn new skills.
Talk to someone who's been where you're going.
~ Let go of the past. Once the change takes place, there's
nothing you can do about it. The wisdom of the Serenity Prayer
entreats us to accept what we can't change. Dwelling in what
was uses precious energy that you can use to adapt to the new
situation. Better to clean out the old to make space for the
new, both physically and mentally.
~ Prepare for the future, but live in the present. Constant
worrying will drain your energy. Use your plans as a road map,
and be willing to try another route. Several years ago, on our
way out of Washington, DC, we consulted a map to find a way onto
the Beltway. When we got to where the entrance was supposed to
be, we encountered a dead end, even though the entrance was clearly
marked on the map. We could see the Beltway, but no way to get
onto it. We had to try another route that took us farther out
of our way, but worked.
~ Be willing to change your mindset. We get used to seeing
things a certain way, and change shakes us up. Try looking at
things a different way. Be open to new possibilities – in fact,
look for them!
~ Own the change. Whether you were victimized or not, ownership
and responsibility puts you in a position of power that allows
you to do something about it. In the work world, for example,
it has become imperative for each of us to chart our own career
path and enhance our skills, rather than relying on a company
to guide and nurture us.
~ Be creative in dealing with the transition period. The tendency
is to try to fit the old structures into the new. Be adventurous
and try things in new and different ways. You may continue using
the old method as a stopgap (as I did with some of my old computer
software before I upgraded it), but look for or create new methods
that better suit the new situation. Use it as an opportunity
to learn something new and, often, better.
~ Don't panic. Take the time to breathe and think things through.
Don't act just to act. Sometimes waiting is more advisable, until
you can develop a well-thought-out strategy. Rash action may
cause more problems than it solves.
~ This may be a tough one: Trust that the change will take
you someplace better that you may not see right now. Change is
life's way of making us grow. If we had our way, most of us would
keep things the way they are indefinitely. There's a certain
comfort in that, but eventually, we would stagnate and become
~ Enjoy the journey. The truth is, things are always changing.
Rather than thinking of it as running from one base to the next
as fast as you can, take the time to look around and assimilate
the new. Use the in-between period as a time of adjustment. Let
it be okay to feel uncomfortable for a time.
~ Take care of yourself. You may need to talk through the
confusion with someone. You may need extra sleep – change can
be energy-draining. Find a safe place you can retreat to, whether
it be a physical place or an inner one.
While change is something we have to confront, the good news
is, dealing with change is a skill you can learn and master.
And the more you do, the easier it gets. We can become what author
Marsha Sinetar calls "creative adaptors."
We can learn to make the most of change and use it to our advantage.
And who knows, you may even begin to embrace it!
It's uncomfortable living with uncertainty. Practice staying
in the moment. Do what you can to ensure the future, and then
let it go. Bring yourself back to the present moment and notice
everything that's okay. Do something to take your mind off the
problem. Take it a day at a time.
"People can't live with change if there's not a changeless
core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless
sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value."
~ Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
"Life is what happens when you are making other plans."
~ John Lennon
"Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely."
~ Karen Kaiser Clark
"The outer forms of our lives can change in an instant,
but the inner reorientation that brings us back into a vital
relation to people and activity takes time."
~ William Bridges, Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes
(click on the book graphic to see a
description at Amazon.com)
Sense of Life's Changes . . . William Bridges
Comfortable with Uncertainty
. . . Pema Chodron
. . . Susan Jeffers
How to Thrive in Times of Change . . . Mary Lynn Pulley,
Developing a 21st Century
Mind . . . Marsha Sinetar
In Over Our Heads: The
Mental Demands of Modern Life . . . Robert Kegan
We Are All Self-Employed:
The New Social Contract for Working in a Changed World
. . . Cliff Hakim
© 2003 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.
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