Katie Whitsed | 98five blogger
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word ‘change’?
Do you think adventure, excitement, challenge…or do you think discomfort, resistance, difficulty?
Whether we like it or not we are all going to face change in our lives at some point or another. All throughout our lives. That’s actually one of the main points of life, so we can grow and change into the best possible versions of ourselves. So we can influence the world around us, and make an impact.
Picture yourself now, and all the major things your life consists of: people, places, routine and lifestyle.
Now, picture yourself in five, 10 and even 20 years. How would you feel if your life looked exactly the same as it does now, all those years down the track? Some things we want to keep the same, of course, but with other things, we want, and need change. Change is a necessity in life. Change is challenging. Sometimes change comes unannounced, and is really hard to deal with. But what change does to us is a good thing if we can learn to embrace it. It builds resilience, it builds character, and it helps us to grow. Change is growth and growth is life.
When you look up the definitions for ‘change’, you will find:
“To make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone”
“To make or become different”
“To transform or convert”
That word, ‘transform’…I love it. The process of change is not about changing who you are, what you stand for, or what you think is important in life. Change is actually a transforming of your already amazing character and values, into something even more incredible. Change is an incredible story of transformation.
I also love this, change is:
“to remove one’s clothes, and put on different clothes”
When we go through stages of change, we often go through a process of ‘putting on different clothes’. Change helps us to clothe ourselves with strength, with resilience, with more confidence, with resourcefulness, and with stories we can pass on to the people around us.
So when you think about it that way, change is a blessing.
But, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Change can actually be really, really, really challenging, depending on: your personality type, how significant the change is in your life, how many changes occur at once, and how much notice you have, just to name a few.
This past year and a half for me has been change after change after change, some of them all happening at once, which can be overwhelming. Right now (in the middle of all the other changes), we are going through some huge changes within my workplace and it’s interesting to observe how different people respond and adjust to change. The Knoster model for managing complex change illustrates and unpacks what is needed to manage complex change, and what feelings, emotions and responses result when those things are missing.
So, if you know you’re in a period of change and you’re feeling confused, it’s probably because you’re lacking a vision, the big picture! If you’re feeling anxious about change, then it could be because you feel like you don’t have the skills to make the change happen. If you are resisting a change, there might not be incentive enough for you to consider the change. Frustration (one I’m all too familiar with at the moment) creeps in when resources are limited, and you just don’t have what you need to effectively change. This could be as a result of time, money, knowledge, access to people with expertise (or lack of), isolation, having enough energy and more. And lastly, if there is no clear action plan in place, it’s so easy to feel like you’re back on the treadmill, running the same race, and feeling stuck.
Any of these resonating with you?
I know I’ve felt all of these at some point or another, and it’s so helpful to see there is a reason why. It’s because we need all of these five ingredients to effectively embrace change.
What is your vision? The big picture? Your dream? We need to spend time on this, thinking about it, regularly. Whether you are a writer and like to write things down, or draw, or talk about it with others, research, or just day dream. However it is that you dream best, do it. Create your vision.
If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it. William Arthur Ward
If you’re feeling anxious about a change, maybe take some time to think about the skills that are needed, and ones you feel that you might not have for the situation. Sometimes, there are key things you need to be able to do, in that case, be OK with acknowledging the gaps in your capabilities, and look for ways to learn how. On the flip side, there are some cases where you feel you don’t have to skills, when in reality you do, and it’s just about embracing the discomfort and being confident in what you do know. Have faith in yourself. You are stronger, braver, and more capable than you think.
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think” A.A. Milne
This one is a little more out of your direct control, depending on the situation, but great for self-awareness. If there is little incentive to embrace a change, then you are going to be resisting it to some degree. If someone you know is resisting a change, then perhaps they are feeling the effects of little to no incentive. ‘If I don’t see a benefit, then why would I want to change?’ is a mindset that is engrained into the human condition. Historically we are wired to protect ourselves from danger and potential harm, so why would we step out of what’s comfortable and familiar, unless there is a known benefit to us?
This is more important than people think sometimes. Have you ever felt frustrated because you feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day? Or frustrated because you are understaffed and overworked? Or don’t have access to information, people, places, or…space (emotional or physical).
When it comes to resources, we have to be careful, because some of them are in our control, and some of them are not. We have to be careful that we are acknowledging the ones we cannot control, but not focusing our time and energy on them. Rather, we need to be channelling our focus to the ones we do have the potential to change and influence.
It’s about finding a balance between acknowledging the tricky circumstances you’re in, but using your energy for the parts that you can change (and sometimes that will seem like such a small and insignificant part of the big picture). But at the end of the day, even the small things really do count.
Without a clear plan or direction, it really can feel like you’re just ‘running the same old race again’, and going around in circles, just like not having vision can cause confusion. Take the time to learn about your ‘why’. What’s driving you? And how are you planning to get to the place you’re looking towards? You don’t have to have the answers all at once. You don’t even have to have any clue about what you’re doing. You just have to have the intention of mapping out a plan with the steps you do have.
I like to think about it like writing your plans in pencil. They’re there to give you direction, something to help you move toward the vision, but then if they don’t work out, you can simply erase the plan, and write a new one. There’s flexibility. Now that is a brilliant place to be. Moving and growing, but flexible.
A goal without a plan is just a wish. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
…but sometimes the plan needs to change for an even better one to come to life.
Make a plan (even a little one makes a big difference) but write it in pencil.
And lastly, but certainly not least, there is one big thing I need to effectively embrace change in my life, and that’s a constant. It sounds counter-intuitive if you’re trying to embrace change, but it’s actually essential. I need to make sure I have at least one thing in my day-to-day life that is the same, a constant source, a grounding for me in a changing environment. For me, my constant is God, and quality time with Him. No matter how much change I’m experiencing around me, if I know I’ve got God, and quality time spent with Him, in prayer, in reading His word, in journaling, then I know everything else is going to work out. It levels all the inconsistencies. It smooths the rough patches. It calms the storm.
Whether your constant is God, prayer and journaling, or something else, make time for it every day, especially through seasons of change when your first reaction is normally to drop the routine to cope with ‘everything else’. When you feel like doing that ‘just to lighten the load a bit’…don’t.
Change is an amazing thing.
It teaches us, it grows us, and it builds us.
Embrace it. You won’t regret it.
In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make. Lewis Carroll
Katie believes in dreaming fearlessly and has a deep passion for seeing other people experience joy and stepping into living their best lives. Her love of writing and self-expression inspired her to create a blog as an avenue for sharing her journey in choosing joy. The kind of joy that makes you smile for no reason at all, the kind you don’t have words for — Joy unspeakable. heartfeltjoy.com | Follow Katie on Facebook | Instagram