Most people appreciate change — as long as it’s happening in someone else’s life. We all admire those who face major challenges in their lives and grow from their experiences to become better and stronger people. How brave and exciting! What a terrific story! But when we face change in our own lives, we feel very different emotions: we feel doubt and fear, annoyance and anger, sadness and guilt.
The current economic downturn has forced many people to make major changes in their lives. Some have had to change jobs; many others have had to change their spending habits. But regardless of what the economy does, our lives change all the time, whether we like it or not. And if we want to be happy, we have to accept this reality with some degree of calm and courage.
Change is called for whenever we’re required by circumstances — both internal and external — to step out of our comfort zone. That’s when we have to let go of our old familiar ways and customary habits. Sometimes this challenge comes in dramatic forms as when, for example, we’re struck by a natural disaster or a serious illness. Sometimes there’s less drama but there can be just as much trauma if, for example, we change jobs or decide to go back to school or start up a personal business. Of course, regardless of the size of the challenge, some people decide not to take control of the situation and they stay victims for life. Others, however, call on their inner strengths and find a way to come through better equipped to handle life’s next round of challenges.
Let’s look at a few concepts that will help you deal with change.
- You have what it takes. We all have the strength to meet our challenges. This is a birth gift that we all received. But the only way to find our strength is to accept the challenge and face down our fear of change.
- Get inspiration from others, but know that you have to meet your challenge on your own. It’s fine to look to others for tips or for inspiration. If they can do it, so can you! But trying to copy what others have done to resolve their challenges may end up draining you instead of empowering you.
- Learn from your past. If you look back at your life, you’ll see that you’ve faced plenty of challenges before. Now ask yourself some questions. What got me to change then? What skills did I use to deal with the challenge? How did I feel after I changed? What have I learned from that experience that I can use again?
- You’re going to have to let something go. In order to bring something new into your life, you will have to let go of something you’ve grown accustomed to. If you want to start your own business, you’re going to have to give up the security of the paycheck you’ve been getting. If you want to get healthier, you’re going to have to let go of the pleasure you get from eating whatever you want. No matter how much you may want to fight this truth, change means giving up one thing in order to get something else.
- Take responsibility. The single most important element for a successful change is commitment. You have to accept that you can and will change, and that the choice to do so is up to you. You may not be able to control the outcome and you may have to make adjustments in your plans, but there is no one to blame if you don’t make the effort yourself.
EXERCISE OF THE WEEK
When thinking about the changes you need to make, practice staying positive. If you keep thinking about failure and if you keep creating pictures of the worst-case scenario, you will find it’s impossible to change on your terms. It’s okay to be afraid. Just accept the fact that you are afraid and you are going to change despite your fear. Then start visualizing what life will be like after the change, and how good it will feel to know that you have the strength to overcome whatever life sends in your direction.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” Alan Cohen
© 2008 – 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.