Seasons of Change: Strategies to Deal with Change
Edmonton Counselling Resources
“I always entertain great hopes.” – Robert Frost
Every year the seasons change—the leaves turn color, the wind grows cold, the snow falls and we dread the long winter of ice and snow. Alberta winters seem to blow longer each year, and it feels like spring will never arrive. When the snow melts we eagerly anticipate the sun beginning to shine and buds fighting to sprout up through the dark heavy soil. Every time another cold snap hits we feel slapped in the face by the false start to spring. But every year the air gets warmer, the flowers sprout and the grass turns green. It is expected that seasons change and winter is made more tolerable by the knowledge that eventually spring and summer will arrive again.
Change is inevitable for individuals and organizations, but often we resist it and fear the worst. We forget that every year winter is followed by spring, and eventually things do get better.
Change is easier to tolerate if we look at it as part of the cyclical nature of life, and recognize that change leads to growth. Alternatively, lack of change leads to stagnation in the same way a motionless stream becomes a swamp. Every living thing is in the process of transformational growth, but we often forget that change leads to positive transformation. Change is also easier if we have some input into how the change is dealt with.
Although we cannot always control what happens to us, we can choose how we deal with change and our attitude towards it. When a positive approach is taken we can use our creative energies to imagine strategies to deal with the change. This opens up the possibility that change will lead to becoming a better person, company or organization. If viewed positively change becomes exciting, and it can stimulate energy that produces growth.
Fear is a normal response to change because change leads to uncertainty and this naturally stirs up fear and trepidation. Unfortunately change often comes in a form that feels like an impossible hurdle or a tragedy, and it’s hard to believe that this challenge can be to our benefit. However, if you are thinking this is a “terrible”, “awful” and “hopeless” it will be hard to think of solutions? If your thoughts are filled with doubt and you focus on the negative you will only perceive the negative and act accordingly.
Strategies to Deal with Change
The first step in dealing with change is to acknowledge your fears. You may even want to write down the fears and challenges of a situation. For example, “we are loosing all of our customers.” Then examine each concern and ask questions like “is that really true?” or “do you know for sure that is true?”. Then write down a more optimistic response to each statement and/or a strategy to deal with the situation.
It may be more accurate that you are loosing some customers in a particular area and may need to think of a way to deal with this, for example, developing new marketing strategies or refocusing on a different product. Try to open up your mind to all the possibilities. Even a layoff, which may feel “bad” and “awful”, can be viewed more accurately as “upsetting” and “difficult”. It can be perceived as an opportunity to explore other talents, or a chance to go back to school. Change can be viewed as a pathway rather than a hardship.
If change is coming to a company, how management deals with it can have a large impact on how individuals adapt to the change. People need to feel involved in the change process. It is imperative to include as many employees as possible to brainstorm possibilities, solutions, ideas, and strategies. The more people brainstorming the more ideas generated.
The very act of being involved in the problem solving will lead people to feel less out of control and more positive towards the changes that are implemented. This includes listening to peoples concerns and idea. It involves open communication, valuing and respecting every person’s thoughts and feelings. When people feel involved, listened to and respected they will feel empowered to find and implement solutions. A unified positive vision is something everyone can be involved with.
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” – Henry Ford