Tips for Dealing with Change, Both Personally and Professionally
Many of us are uncomfortable with change. In fact, we like getting into routines to the point where they become habits. There is comfort in knowing what is coming today and tomorrow. It is when the planned turns into the unexpected that sends us scurrying for cover. To be better prepared for change, I want to share with you some quick thoughts about change and how to be a little less nervous when it comes knocking on your door.
There are three main types of change. There is simple or straightforward change, controlled change, and involuntary change.
Simple change is, well, simple. Let me give you an example. This morning, I went to the cupboard to get myself some cereal. I had my heart set on Fruit Loops. Apparently, my kids did too, and there wasn’t any left. A little deflated, I changed plans and grabbed the decade-old corn flakes (I think we all have a box of those in the pantry). All told, it really wasn’t that catastrophic. In fact, it was a very easy situation to process.
The next type of change is controlled change. This level is not nearly as easy as the simple change. In this category of change, we would find such things as weight loss (the number-one New Year’s resolution in America by the way), exercise plans, or like many of you, obtaining a college education. All of these are large changes and require a lot of mental and often physical energy. Although this level of change is difficult, we are still in control of our today and tomorrow. We have the final say in this matter.
It is our next type of change that throws people for a loop: involuntary change.
Let’s face it—involuntary change is scary, to say the least. In this level of change, we are no longer in control. It includes such things as layoffs, terminations, relocations, family problems, medical conditions, car problems—the list could go on and on.
While none of us could truly prepare ourselves for some of life’s major curveballs, there are some things that we can do to help us be better prepared for change. As mentioned earlier, we like patterns and routines. In fact, our brain is hardwired for organization and habits. As children, we learned by such things as repetition, memorization, grouping, and sorting by likeness or shape, etc. I don’t think too many of us had a kindergarten teacher throw a square into our pile of circles and say “that’s too bad kiddo, deal with it!” However, maybe they should have! While it is too late to go back and ask for some small doses of involuntary change, we can certainly start the process of rewiring our brains so that they are a little more receptive to change in general.
"...We can certainly start the process of rewiring our brains so that they are a little more receptive to change in general."
How do you do that, you ask? Great question. You can start small by taking a different route to work tomorrow. Then, take a different way home. If you sit in the back of the class out of habit, try sitting in the middle of the class tomorrow and then at the front the next day. If you normally sit through class without asking a question, get out of your comfort zone and participate!
The bottom line is, you need to start to break up your routines. Don’t go gangbusters and stress yourself out. However, by doing small things differently, your brain will eventually accept changes and will actually look forward to them.
About the Author
Kyle Peacock served as a faculty member in general education for Stevens-Henager College from 2002-2012. He received his Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership from The University of Phoenix in 2008. Dr. Peacock is dually licensed in his home state of Utah as a Health Facility Administrator (issued 1998) and as a Social Worker (issued 1997). He also received the PHR–Professional in Human Resources Certification in 2011. Dr. Peacock has also taught General Education courses, Business Management, and Healthcare Administration courses. He developed the curriculum for Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Healthcare Administration and worked with multi-state licensing boards to assure that students would receive the necessary regulatory skills to be successful healthcare managers. Professionally, Dr. Peacock has traveled nationally to deliver a number of presentations on current issues in healthcare administration.