Four Ways To Deal With Change

For the last two years I’ve had a tradition.

Every Tuesday, one of my local grocery stores held a special on chicken breast. Not just any chicken breast, but some of the best I’ve ever had.

I stopped in after work every Tuesday, not only for the chicken, but the experience. Entering the warm and inviting store, stopping for a sample of some exotic flavor of coffee, just enough caffeine to give me an early evening boost. Walking past the decadent cakes and cookies, the fresh vegetables, and the mouth-watering deli, the store came alive, never failing to brighten my day.

So last week, I stop in, get my chicken, my coffee, and some tasty treats, but as I’m checking out I notice something different. The price of the chicken has gone up. I ask why and the cashier informs me that the price has changed for good, instead of running the weekly special, it was the new price all day, every day.

As I parted the electronic doors on the way out, I felt like I had lost a dear friend. Someone whose place in my life was reliable and uplifting. Our Tuesday tradition had come to an end, and it was sad.

Everyone always says “change is the only constant” and “expect change”. Those maxims are true and very wise. But many times it’s easier said than done.

So how do we avoid these valleys when dealing with change?

  1. Celebrate the positives

Yes, my tradition ended, but it was only sad because the times were so great. That’s usually the case when dealing with change, we only see the worst in the situation. We think about the future and the scariness of dealing with a whole new world. Instead, embrace the good times, see them for their meaning, and celebrate the positive meaning in your life.

2. Focus on what you can control

Instead of letting your mind race to the future to start thinking about what will change, take a step back. I know I can’t control the pricing policies of the grocery stores I frequent. They have to make a profit, and I hope they do, so I can still shop there in the future. Snap back to the present, and focus on what you can control, your reaction.

3. Reach out for support

My grocery store example isn’t the most serious change that can happen. But sometimes, change is much more devastating. In times like these it’s the support of friends and family that makes all of the difference. This doesn’t mean broadcast your negativity to whomever will listen, as research shows that this can make the problem worse. Instead, acknowledge your anger and fear so you’re aware of the negative affects it can have on your actions. Then, look for actionable advice on what to do next. This problem solving mindset can help you move forward, instead of wallowing in defeating sorrow.

4. Reframe stability

Life is not always stable. In fact, if you’re taking action and moving forward, stability may have a new, less stable definition. Expecting change can help you confront it when it happens. According the the Harvard Business Review, in the 1970’s Salvatore Maddi studied the reactions of employees at Illinois Bell after the deregulation of the phone industry. Some employees thrived with change and others didn’t. What was the difference? The employees who coped well with the change chose to view the changes, wanted or unwanted, as part of the human experience. They didn’t classify themselves as victims and instead saw the change as an opportunity to fix long standing problems. They reframed the change.

All of these things can help alleviate the pain of change. The next time something changes that takes the wind out of your sails, take a step back and use some of these steps to find a path forward.

Remember, nothing lasts forever, so embrace change and look forward to new opportunities.