How to get better at dealing with change

This World, she’s a’changing – and never more so than right now!  Some say the speed of that change is 10x the pace it was 10 years ago, and humankind is certainly doing the hard yards trying to keep up.  Let’s look at just a few stats….

 

 

  • The top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004. We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet, using technologies that haven’t been invented, to solve problems, we don’t know are even problems yet
  • 1 in 4 workers has been with their current employer for less than a year, 1 in 2 has been there less than five years
  • In 2006 Facebook only had 450 visitors … now it has over 845 million monthly active users
  • The first commercial text message was sent in Dec 1982, today the number of text messages sent every day exceeds the total population of the planet.
  • It is estimated that 4 exabytes (4.0×10^19) of unique information will be generated this year. That is more than the previous 5000 years.
  • The amount of new technical info is doubling every 2 years … for students starting a 4-year technical degree this means that half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study
  • Self-driving cars have finally arrived.

Seems incredible, right? Our awareness of the escalation of time and the associated digital, technological, societal and environmental developments is happening by default, leading to global transformation and massive personal and professional change. To survive we need to upskill, diversify, multi-task, learn digital nowse, accept automation and artificial intelligence … to learn how to negotiate and navigate the waves of change.

See this week’s Thriving at Work and Life podcast to help you learn to be more resilient, get better at dealing with change and transform how you perceive it.

 

So how do you perceive change at the moment – whether that be in your work, at home, in your relationships, with technology, your lifestyle … or even when things are just moved around at your favourite store? Are you mistrustful, even just a little bit afraid of being blindsided by outside (unknown) forces?  Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed or worried about changes at work / in your community, especially the ones you can’t control?

Take a moment to complete these sentences about change to uncover the key elements of your current subconscious programming:

  • Change is …
  • A changing and uncertain world makes me feel …
  • Living with uncertainty is …
  • Rapid change at work is …
  • I’m afraid that change causes …
  • Change makes people …
  • Not knowing the answer is …
  • My biggest fear about change is …

What did you discover?

Are your beliefs and associations those of someone who is programmed to dislike change and be fearful of it or to embrace it with both hands? Our thoughts and beliefs are often what limit or inhibit our capacity to live enriched and fulfilling lives i.e. the way we look at the world determines how we experience it. By simply shifting your beliefs around change you can enable a giant leap into a whole new life of new possibilities, innovations, improvements, growth, excitement and creativity.

 

How to take control of change.

We’d like to let you into a little-known secret … change itself isn’t the hard part – it’s the resistance to change that is. It’s like trying to swim against the river flow rather than going in the same direction. The beliefs that many people hold e.g. that change is difficult, painful, something we should fear etc, are based on inaccurate and incomplete information.

 

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

 

We are designed as human beings to keep things safe, familiar and to stay in control as best as we can.  We learnt in school that having firm answers to questions that concern us is the key to getting an A. Yet for most questions, this just isn’t possible in today’s changing world.

 

“Change is not something that we should fear, but something we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they’re meant to be.” –  B.K.S. Iyengar

So, we suggest the first simple way to take control of change is to adopt a more flexible and empowering belief about change based on the work of our friend and mentor, John Overdurf; “All we are is changing.”

At the deepest level, all you are is change.  Let us give you a couple of examples:

  • Your body replaces itself with a largely new set of cells every 7 to 10 years. All of us are physically changing moment to moment, second to second, week to week.
  • The cells that line your stomach and intestines only get to do their job (i.e. get submerged in chicken, broccoli and stomach acid) for a few days before they end up in your toilet bowl along with the chicken and broccoli.
  • Your skin cells are cycled through every few days but are fully replaced every few weeks.
  • We used to think that changes in the brain could only take place during infancy and childhood and after that, you were stuck with it for life. We now know about neuroplasticity; that your brain is constantly re-wiring itself and everyone’s brains are wired differently. Whatever you experience in life, on purpose or not, creates physical changes in your brain. In just the last 5 minutes you have been reading this it has already re-wired itself: it happens moment to moment.
  • Our lives are in constant flux. We are verbs. Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states and emotions that we have to go through. We can never access the moment that just passed, nor can we ever replicate it.

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

It’s impossible to stop changing … you simply do not have a choice. As the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus so succinctly put it in 500 BC: “The only thing that is constant is change.”

Now we are asking you to have the courage to celebrate the idea of change. To be open to and willing to accept uncertainty because uncertainty precedes growth and allows creative solutions to spontaneously emerge.

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”– Gail Sheehy

 

The big question is: How do we find the courage to embrace change?

Well, although there’s no guiding 12-step programme, according to Dr Ellen J. Langer (the Harvard psychologist who is often called ‘The Mother of Mindfulness’) there is a very simple thing we can all do to help us be better able to deal with change also increase our resilience, happiness and longevity. How? by staying in the present through the process of actively drawing new and novel distinctions.

 

In one of Ellen’s most famous studies, a group of women spent their days doing very physical work cleaning houses. When asked if they exercised regularly, they said no. In an experiment, half of them were told to view their work as exercise, like going to a gym, i.e. were told to think differently about their work; to notice it in a new way. The control half of the group continued as they were. For the women who were told to think of their work as exercise, the results were dramatic – they lost weight and their blood pressure went down. The control group showed no physical benefits. So, the simple act of being in the present moment, holding a positive belief and noticing new things made a profound difference.

 

Exercise:  Notice what is new and different. 

This exercise is about taking the time to notice new things in the familiar. For example, when you walk out of your front door, take the time to notice three things you didn’t see before. If you talk to someone, notice three new things about that person. If you judge someone else, think about how that behaviour may have made sense from that person’s perspective.

If you continually notice what is new and different, over time you will see that everything is always changing, and everything looks different from different perspectives – we just need to take the time to look.

So, what is it you are believing about change now?

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