Dealing with Change 101: It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you navigate and respond to turbulent times. You may be dealing with stressful seasonal events that force you to change such as taxes. On the other hand you may be dealing with foundational change events such as a layoff or a transition in careers. In addition, there may be gradual shifts that you can see coming, such as the adoption of technology making your skills irrelevant. Your first paragraph ...
One of my favorite examples is a guy
named W. Mitchell. Here's a man at a prime age of 28, who got into a
motorcycle accident that permanently damaged his hands, and burned 65%
of his body and face. However, he recovered emotionally and started
business, which became very profitable. So life was "good" again, for he
conquered his demons and re-learned to be happy with himself.
One of his passions before the accident was airplanes, so he got back
into flying again. One clear day in Colorado, he was flying again but
his plane wasn't taking off the way it should because there was ice on
his wing. This led him to his second serious accident. Amazingly he
survived and this time, it took away his legs, which made him paralyzed
from the waist down. Once again, he persevered with the help of other
people around him and decided share his message of overcoming change and
obstacles to become a very successful professional speaker.
Mitchell is an extraordinary case of a person dealing with change. The
challenges you have are likely nothing like he went through, but it's an
example we can learn from. There is no easy answer to dealing with
change, since every situation is different. I don’t believe in overly
simplistic cookie cutter models. However there are underlying principles at work that you can use to your advantage.
Choose Your Response
came from the book the Success Principles by Jack Canfield. It's the
equation, E+R=O, which stands for Event + Response = Outcome. In a
nutshell, it says when you have an Event (good or bad), plus your Response to that Event will determine the Outcome. Almost always you cannot determine the Event, but you do have the ability to choose your response in any situation.
For example, if you get laid off and need another job, you have choices to choose from. You could avoid dealing with change by having a drink, de-stressing. On the other hand, you could be a networking renegade and immediately let everybody know you need a job, call past employers, update your resume, etc. That kind of response will increase your odds in finding a job sooner. Take full responsibility for your situation and know you have the capacity to change your outcome to a better result.
Focus is the next principle on dealing with change. When a transition in your life occurs, be sure to keep your thoughts on what you can control.
Keeping your focus on what has happened (or happening) to you will not
help you get to where you need to be. Assuming the change is not a
positive event, keeping your focus on where you want to be will increase
the odds of you dealing with change.
The biggest lever you have is your attitude.
When you have an attitude that embraces change, rather than resisting
change it gives you the ability to work with whatever comes your way. Ironically, there is something good from every change that happens to you, if you look for it.
There are countless examples of people who went broke and gained
fortunes because they learned from it and kept their focus on their
A great quote W. Mitchell about focus:
I was paralyzed, there were 10,000 things I could do. Now there are
9,000. I can either dwell on the 1,000 I lost, or focus on the 9,000 I
This brings me to my final principle, security. It's one of Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of human needs. It's the belief that you can handle any change that comes to your way and knowing that you will be okay. If you lose your job, and your life is shaken to the core, then your security lies within the job or money.
Those are external factors, which will not give you true security.
Not to say money isn't important, losing a job is just a temporary
setback for those who have inner security. The thing about inner
security, it's a choice that you make, it's not a skill that you develop, or something that you're born with. It's simple as that.
A fantastic quote by Helen Keller:
is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the
children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in
the long run than outright exposure."
Get Some Help
When you are dealing with change and it is too big to handle, enlist the help of other people.
They can offer insights, comfort and support that you couldn't do for
yourself. At a personal level, my brother in law passed away recently
at a young, unexpected age of 17 years old due to an ATV crash. This
has been very hard on our family. However, in the midst of all this
change, a lot of friends and family members come to offer support,
especially during the first month.
While it was such a
painful experience, the support we received really helped us deal with
it. So, remember when life throws you around, enlist the help of
trusted friends and family. There are even support groups for every
single transition you're trying to make these days, if you're just
willing to look for it.
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