You can’t control change, but you can control how you react to it
Friday, April 08, 2016
We celebrate and congratulate those graduating from educational institutions, those getting married and those embarking on new aspects of their lives. Change is occurring, and we are guaranteed one thing in life — change will happen, no matter what age we are or what we are doing. What matters is how we think about change and how we manage it.
Change is a condition — events that happen outside of us and over which we have little to no control. "Oh, no," you might say. "I'm in control of what I do and how I do it." To which I respond, "You are right." But think about it.
You decide to change jobs or move to a new location. You make plans and proceed. You are excited about what you are doing. You're about to move, and the movers levy an unexpected fee on your move. You start a new job and have your first negative encounter with your manager. You graduate and find yourself faced with your first decisions regarding living expenses.
What just happened in your life? Change!
Now let's back up to when you were in control. Change was about to happen — the good side of change. You are thinking about the excitement of this new venture. You are thinking how great it will be to be starting something new. Yes, you are thinking. That's what so great about who you are and what you can accomplish — when you are thinking. And when you are actively thinking, you are in control.
But then new realities begin to attack your positive, productive outlook on this new life venture. Some likely are expected, but the intensity of their impact is unexpected. These conditions arise when you least expect them. And when they attack, they catch you off-guard.
Naturally, you react with unproductive emotions. In essence, you stop actively thinking and revert back to childlike coping behaviors. These were times others stepped in and helped you to manage. But now those rescuers are no longer available.
You are on your own. If you continue your emotional, irrational behavior, it is possible the condition will worsen and start to have debilitating effects on you. The picture of change has suddenly become bleak and unappealing.
OK, before anyone starts to panic, here are recommended solutions to change and change management. These recommendations fit no matter what your age or the conditions you are facing.
First and foremost, view any and all change as a condition. Accept the fact that there will be parts of these conditions over which you have little to no control.
Start by keeping your thinking active and do not rely on the old tried and true, "This is the way I used to do it." How you used to do it has residual skills, but they may be outdated and not work well with the "new technology" the world has presented us.
When confronted with unexpected changes, I encourage you to ask this question: "What can I do right now?" The most important point of this question is it will immediately take you out of emotional reaction and resume your active thinking. Active thinking is important because it supports your behaviors and allows you to move toward productive results.
If you use this simple question when the unexpected happens, you will start managing yourself in the best productive fashion. Practice this skill when simple conflicts arise. Practice will give you confidence. Eventually, you will automatically respond to change easily and quickly.
Asking a question is a skill. And the best way to develop any skill is to practice it. I encourage you to try, and to practice it. Start today and continue regularly asking yourself questions.
If you react to a condition, it will get the upper hand. Once this happens the condition takes control. Asking a question will raise your awareness and keep you thinking at the intellectual level. It will work.
Remember, it doesn't take but a couple of seconds to ask a question. And it doesn't cost you anything to ask a question. When something that takes little time and doesn't cost anything, yet could save you immeasurable time and grief, isn't it worth it? I sure think so. Try it and you might like it.
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