Change happens. Sometimes the change is planned; sometimes it’s not – but either way, life doesn’t ask if now is a good time for you. This is especially apparent as the end of the year is upon us and many are looking to effect a change that will positively impact their new year. How many times have you had failed New Year’s resolutions? You may begin with good intentions, but the resolutions rarely remain intact beyond Valentine’s Day.
Whether you’re planning an attitudinal or behavioral overhaul this winter, or simply feel those around you conjuring up schemes to force you into it, there are ways to take the pain out of the process. Here are a few tips to ensure your positive change initiative is successful and as stress-free as possible:
You must believe in the need for change before you or anyone else can get behind the change initiative. Stop and ask yourself if you are making the change because you believe it is the best thing for yourself and your team, or if you are making the change as a result of what you think people want you to do.
2. Focus on Strengths
As you are moving through the change process, do not focus on what has not been accomplished; instead, celebrate the positive progress that has been accomplished. Focusing on weakness wastes your energy, which means that you won’t have any energy left to grow your strengths. By focusing on what you can do – your strengths – you will become progressively stronger.
3. Manage Emotion
Change can be tough, and it is almost always accompanied by fear. This is because change typically takes us into the unknown and can create the mindset that we are doing something wrong – we wouldn’t have to change if we were perfect, right? This is a fear-based response, which creates feelings of resistance, anger, distance, aggravation and frustration. But when you recognize these behaviors as being created by fear, you will be able to see the big picture in a much clearer light. Fear goes around looking like many things, but being able to recognize that you are actually dealing with fear opens your mind to finding positive solutions.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. It doesn’t matter if you are working on a change with your team, your company, your family or yourself; in all cases, it is crucial to communicate with those around you. Let anyone who may be affected know what you are working on changing and why, and tell them how you are doing or when you need support. When people understand what is going on, they are more likely to be supportive and respond positively to the change.
5. Safe Space
Create a safe space for communication – an environment that is safe for people to share their true feelings and concerns, and where you can feel comfortable with your own doubts or challenges. Change, no matter what the size, is emotional, and it is important to have a safe space to express these emotions without judgment. When people are comfortable showing their true feelings without the fear of being rejected, good things happen.
Change creates more change, and change initiatives often take more time than expected simply because of that fact. Therefore, your timeline and strategy should be flexible. Don’t lose track of the objective because you are inflexible regarding time or strategy. And keep in mind that, just because things are not happening as you expected, it doesn’t mean the change initiative is failing. As you run into snags, remember that they are a critical part of the process and that opportunities sometimes present themselves as obstacles at first – it really depends on how you look at them.
Remember: There is enough to go around, sufficient time to get things done and a way for things to work out. One of the habits in Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” is to have faith that the path is there, and if it’s not obvious, look deeper.
Always, always express gratitude for your successes, strengths, the incredible people that surround you daily and everything in your life that gives you a glad-to-be-alive feeling. The idea behind the gratitude rock is that each time we touch or see it, we remind ourselves of something we are grateful for in our lives. Gratefulness is like strength: The more you focus on it, the more opportunities you will have to be grateful, because great things will continue to populate your life.
Dealing with change is a necessary part of life, which allows us to grow on personal and business fronts, so change your mindset on change. Look at it as a positive process that will allow you to make something better, instead of as something that is tossing you haphazardly into the unknown. Also take the time to learn to implement a change initiative effectively with these eight steps; as with any process, there is room for mastery. Plus, it will save you a lot of headaches down the road – which, according to Step 8, means you’ll be able to thank yourself later.
This article was written by Jaime Sims of Corporate Logo Magazine. Reprinted with permission.
Jaime Sims is the director of operations for SnugZ USA, where she has worked for more than 12 years. During her time there, the company has grown and changed, and Sims has had the opportunity to work in almost every aspect of the business from customer relations to shipping. More information is available at www.snugzusa.com.