Times They Are A Changin’…How To Deal With Change

By Georgia Waters

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change
-Stephen Hawking

Change, in some form, is unavoidable in our lives. Some of us crave change, and actively seek out ways to disrupt our routines. Others shy away from it, feel comforted by routine, and take pleasure in knowing what is going to happen, when, and how. Change that we control, generally, is exhilarating and a positive way to keep us stimulated in our daily lives, be it a new job, a new address, a new haircut, or even just eating at a new restaurant.

However, sometimes life hits us with change that we weren’t expecting… and this is when it can be overhwelming unwanted challenge. It can be incredibly frustrating in the workplace when change occurs. Trying keep up the same standards of work, hold your cool, work in or lead a team, whilst navigating your way through change, can be exhuasting and crushing. If you have found yourself in this position, take a moment to enjoy camaraderie with Woody Allen in The Curse of The Jade Scorpion, where he takes a severe dislike to the changes his new efficiency expert is introducing. Parks and Recreation also do a great schit on resistance to change. Comedy aside, it seems, when we are used to efficiently working in a certain way, we don’t like this to be challenged. After all, it’s comfortable, and we know it works. Ban Weston has written a great article 10 Tips For Dealing With Change, which explores this resistance a bit further. She suggests that change in the workplace comes hand in hand with a fear of failure, rejection, and most importantly, the unknown. We can’t prepare for the unknown, which is what makes it all the more terrifying. I often find that I’m anxious about an important event until it has actually started, simply because, I don’t know what will happen. Once I’m in the moment, I’m fine, and I can deal with whatever is thrown at me. It’s not the difficult events themselves that are intimidating, it’s not knowing what they might be. Her article also references research from neuroscientists, which have found that humans like predictability, any ambiguity can activate a threat circuitry in the brain. In terms of dealing with change, this HBR aritcle, How To Get Better With Change, offers some useful advice. The most interesting I thought, was to remember to talk about the problems that need solving, rather than focusing on your emotional response. It’s not something I had considered before, but sourcing the sovlable problems when confronted with unexpected situations, may help us grasp at some sensation of control.

Hendriksen in her blog post, How To Deal With Big Life Changes, gives advice on general changes in life. She reminds us that in any change, there will be a combination of loss and gain. When changes are unwelcome, this can often be becuase the loss outweighs the gain. Hendriksen too suggests that the best way to deal with change is to focus on what you can control, by trying to pinpoint concrete actions you can take. She uses a great quote ‘the only constant in life is change’. Which I think is a great mindset to adopt. Whilst unexpected changes can bring all their unwelcome anxieties, what we can do, is occasionally remind ourselves that change is likely to always happen at some point. ‘Who Stole My Cheese’ is a great little allegory about the importance of not expecting life to continue in the same trajectory as it is now. Equally, always expecting life to change and be inconsistent, can come with it’s own barrel of anxieties. It’s hard to relax if you’re constantly ancipitating threatening situations, which I don’t think ‘Who Stole My Cheese’ is asking us to do. The allegory is asking us to make sure we are listening to our situations, and make sure we don’t ignore any small signs of change coming round the corner. If any of you have ever been in the scouts, then you’ll remember their moto, ‘be prepared.’ For those of you who weren’t, never mind, but basically we were encouraged to carry all materials necessary for a small emergency (including change for a phonecall).

I would also go so far to argue, that change might is good for us. Here is Lifehacker explaining Why And How You Should Change Up Your Routine. Embracing hange helps us think more creatively, it helps us to be more flexible, and it helps the unknown become less intimidating.