Imposed change sucks!
We are often taught that coping with change is difficult and challenging. That it is going to be unpleasant and that we may feel overwhelmed. Coping with change can be all these things, if we decided to have that mindset. However, when we change our mindset from coping with change to embracing change, I think we can make progress.
I am a big fan of change. All the best things that have happened in my life have been as a direct result of massive changes. All the best people in my world have come into my life because of change. My favourite jobs have all come about after considerable, sometimes life-changing, change. Imposed change however, change of such huge proportions as we are currently experiencing around the world? that sucks!
The only thing that sucks more than the current situation, is the number of people who are shouting at us, almost hourly, that we are failures if, during this time of imposed change that looks different every day, we are not re-inventing ourselves. We should, according to these loud proclaimers of glee, be thrilled by the current situation and embracing it as a chance to do all those things we failed to do until now. Because, of course, when we’re totally unsure of what, where or who we are going to have to be tomorrow, we are inspired to be creative (not).
Change never comes from a place of comfort
I have had to make enormous changes in my life due to circumstances that were out of my control. The most notable of these was working out how to continue to hold down a job, be a mother and a wife and still cope with the physical demands of my car accident in my mid twenties (more about my story). This, overnight change, resulted in our whole family having to re-think how we worked, what our roles were and how we would cope. The thing is, we did not make these decisions over night. Or even over the first month. And be under no illusion; we found the right way to cope, then work, then (eventually) thrive in the new situation, only after many, many months and even years.
Perhaps you were planning changes for this year and had begun working on them and seeing progress, only to feel that this situation has put them on the back-burner. This is not a failure on your part. Give yourself some time to cope with the change and don’t measure how you’re doing on how anyone else is doing. Or claims they are doing. We are all having good days and, frankly down-right-dreadful days. Shitty days. Days where everything makes us cry and we have a sense of heaviness.
Create a list of future intentions to help when coping with change
What I have been doing is making a list of Future Intentions. Every idea I’m coming up with that might be a good thing moving forward, goes on my Future Intentions board. I’ve put pages from magazines on it, photos I’ve printed off from Pinterest, scribbled sticky-notes and A4 printed pages with detailed lists and schedules. It is a place to safely store these little gems (and some that perhaps will be relegated to the bin) for when I am in the right place to take them on. Whilst I am in the midst of coping with change, I am more likely to engage with an idea if it is visually stimulating.
The key thing here is to put the Future Intentions board in plain site. Put it somewhere you see it often, ideally every day. I took one off a couple of weeks ago and started work on it, only to find it had been the perfect time. I had previously ‘worked-on’ it for about three months and made no significant progress. The truth was I had not been in the right place in my head to work on this project, and now that I have dealt with the issues that were holding back my progress, I am ready to enjoy it and give it my best.
Be real about your frame of mind – are you setting yourself up to succeed or to fail?
Taking on challenges during a time of un-certainty can mean that you’re not focussed on the outcomes for the right reasons. I have always found the most successful project I’ve been involved in have come about when I am clear about the ‘why’. The motivation behind the changes we make, or how we cope with change that is out of our control, will drive our commitment to them and, ultimately, our success at adapting to and embracing them. If the only reason for the ‘why’ is the situation today, you may want to consider if that is enough of a driver. And also ask yourself if you would make these changes if the situation returned to ‘normal’ in the next few months.
The process we are all experiencing, feeling much like grief for many people, takes time to travel its path. There is no right way, no guide as to how long it should take you to feel like taking on a challenge. And just a small reality check here; if you are one of those people who makes lists of things you plan to do and then doesn’t actually do them – this is not going to change because of a virus. The only thing that will change that, is you deciding to stop the excuses, quit talking yourself out of it and get on with something. (tough, but you know it’s the truth).
Celebrate the daily successes when coping with change
I would encourage every one of us to acknowledge each day as a step forward right now. Each day that ends with our nearest and dearest still healthy and happy is a success. Every day that ends with us still able to be grateful for the little things is a triumph. Every day that we survive, we DID cope with change and these are the things we can be proud of ‘when this is all over’.