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Equip Yourself to Thrive During Times of Change

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“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.” ― Roy T. Bennett

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” ― Alan W. Watts

“Welcome change.” – Fortune in cookie I opened on January 29, 2018 (no kidding).

Like many others, our organization is undergoing a transformation. There are exciting times ahead, as well as periods of change and uncertainty. But let’s be real – for many of us, we are creatures of habit and change is hard. When attending a multi-day meeting, do you tend to sit in the same area of the room each day? Do you have a typical routine for breakfast or getting ready for work? There is nothing wrong with a certain amount of predictability in life, but change can be an impetus toward excellence, a teacher, an opportunity for growth and a lesson in thriving or resilience.

As Juliana Preston mentioned in her recent blog, our amount of resilience isn’t fixed. Quoting Sheryl Sandberg, “Resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity [or change]—and we can build it. It isn’t about having a backbone. It’s about strengthening the muscles around our backbone.”

So it’s important to continuously nurture our resilience and improve our ability to adapt to change. I try to have different metaphorical tools in my resilience toolbox – sometimes I need armor to make me stronger and help me get through the times when I feel buffeted by the winds of change. Sometimes I need a soft, warm blanket to comfort me while I grieve the losses change bring.

I’ve been reading up on the topic of organizational change recently, and I’d like to summarize a few suggestions that particularly resonated with me:

  • Care for yourself. Manage your stress. Play! Laugh!
  • Keep in touch with yourself – who you are and your values; use those values to influence how you think about the change. Keep a focus on the impacts of your work that are most meaningful to you.
  • Develop/maintain strong interpersonal relationships. Support one another.
  • Expect instability. Ask for information when you aren’t sure what is going on.
  • Reframe change as an opportunity. Write these new opportunities down. Don’t take changes personally – assume good intent.
  • Be the change. Take initiative, find ways to participate in change-making or contribute to the conversation. Use this opportunity to fix problems that have vexed you in the past.

It’s okay to acknowledge feelings about change, which are often about aversion to loss, such as security, control, power/status, routine, work relationships. It’s also important to keep moving forward, engage with the change, and be solution-focused in our thinking. Nurturing our resilience will equip us for success during times of change, now and later. What’s in your toolbox?

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