Four Tips to Deal with Change Effectively
The very definition of the word ‘change,’ 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, can elicit a shudder heard across the world. Most people do not like change. And I am one of them.
Change requires thought, time, and a willingness to look at an outcome that we may or may not like. Here’s an analogy I came across recently that I find helpful for dealing with change. I hope you will too.
Recently, I had the opportunity to spend a week with my family in a place that always elicits the opportunity to slow down and enjoy the world around me. This place often affords the opportunity to hear my own thoughts and recenter myself before rejoining the world.
On this most recent trip, I found myself restless and unable to settle into the routine of vacation. It was like there was an itch I could not scratch. By day three, I was perturbed at my inability to find the inner calm I so deeply desired. I informed my family I was headed out for a walk and was not coming back until I “felt right.”
Often while I am walking, my mind wanders. On this particular walk, I found myself thinking about the process my family had undertaken in making dinner the night before. We were preparing fresh vegetables from our garden and I was using a vegetable peeler that had been in our family for generations. The vegetable peeler is simple – a metal handle with a peeling type blade. Nothing colorful or fancy. It isn’t even ergonomic or a tool with multiple purposes.
It just peels.
As I walked, I came to a startling revelation; I needed to use a vegetable peeler on myself. The sheer purpose of a vegetable peeler is to shave off an outer layer, perhaps a layer that is too tough or bitter; to change the state of the fruit or vegetable. My restlessness and inability to settle down needed some of that attention and change. Here are four things I learned as I put the philosophy of the vegetable peeler to my own self:
1. You have to want it
Before you just start making changes willy-nilly an important question to ask yourself is, “Do I want to change?”
Not every person wants to change. It requires a lot of hard work and often we need to humble ourselves and ask for help from those around us. Some people would rather stay right where they are because the bottom line is change is really, REALLY difficult.
So before changing for change sake, you need to understand the motivation for your change. “Why do I want to change in this moment? What am I attempting to accomplish?” With the vegetable peeler, I am looking to take off a hard outer layer or skin that is inedible. It has a clear purpose for change. That same principle needs to be applied to ourselves.
Author of the book “Start with Why,” Simon Sinek says, “Very few people can articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY, I mean what is your cause, purpose or belief? WHY do you get out of bed every morning?”
2. Avoid making excuses
After I went for that initial walk and realized change was necessary, I followed up with about a half-dozen more walks that were filled with an inner dialogue of excuses. They sounded something like this: “It’s not me that needs to change, everyone else needs to change.” “I’m too busy to really dig in and understand what needs to change.” “I don’t really know my WHY I want to change, so I probably shouldn’t.” “I’m too tired right now as things are so crazy.” “I’m not sure the changes will be who I ‘really’ am.”
These excuses were a barrier to experiencing change in the way I needed to. And the reality is, some of the moments in my life inextricably linked to regrets are when I let excuses win. So I needed to put excuses aside to start to see those changes.
3. Take a small step
Once you stop making excuses, you need to take some intentional steps forward. You can’t passively hope that change will arrive on your doorstep with your next UPS delivery. You have to actively pursue the changes you are looking to make.
Perhaps it is as simple as saying out loud what you are looking to change to someone else. But instead of sitting still, make one small step.
4. Expect adversity and setbacks
When you pursue change, you will face adversity and setbacks. There are forces both internally and externally that do not want to see you change. So don’t be surprised when you experience moments of adversity and setback.
Don’t be surprised when your old patterns of behavior or response reappear when you are faced with a challenging situation. Don’t be surprised when a friend or colleague questions the “new” you. You will more than likely get knocked down, but the way to overcome those moments is to expect them and to remind yourself why you started on the path to change in the first place.
Do You Want to Change?
Benjamin Franklin once said, “When you’re finished changing, you are finished.” I am assuming like me, you don’t ever want to be finished.
Which of these four things resonates most with you? Which ones will be the most difficult? Share below.