Tips to Manage Change When Life Throws You a Curve
Our lives are constantly changing – getting married, moving to a new home, starting a new job, having a new baby, facing an empty nest, retiring – all of these changes happen to most of us. There are simple, normal, everyday changes that have to be faced – just getting older, or even, to a small degree, just moving from Tuesday to Wednesday. There are traumatic, life-altering changes – separation and divorce, a death in the family. Change can be a conscious decision we make or change can be forced upon us. Whatever the change, we do know that change is unavoidable and that it is going to happen to each and every one of us. If change is such an inherent part of our lives, why do we shy away from change? The perception often is that change is different and different is bad. It’s the loss of the familiar and the familiar is safe. The greatest obstacle that people need to challenge is seeing change as a bad thing.
People avoid change for many reasons:
- A lack of clarity about priorities and values causes people to avoid change. If they don’t know what is important to them, they have trouble making a choice.
- People who are perfectionists also have difficulty with change. If they don’t have an ironclad guarantee that the change will work out, they avoid it.
- People with low self-esteem avoid change because they are not confident that they can make a good decision.
Individuals who avoid change are afraid to risk altering their lives. Therefore, the only changes that occur are those that are forced upon them. They end up feeling powerless because they are not in control of their destiny. When change is forced on people, it is a very emotional process. It helps to approach change on a more cognitive level. For example, putting changes on paper helps people view change in a more positive light.
Individual personalities are going to have an effect on how change is handled. Some people are just more willing to accept change and get on with their lives, while others are not. But there are some things that we can do to lessen the stress of change and help us view change as positive and healthy.
- Take baby steps to introduce risk in your life. It can be something small like taking an evening course – something that brings a little newness to your life.
- Take care of yourself
- Meditate – turn off the world for a time.
- Eat well.
- Exercise regularly.
- Find a good listener in your life, someone who can help you look at things and present different options.
- Manage your time well. Get things done that you have to do, but also include time for yourself.
- Be productive. Setting goals for yourself and feeling that you’ve accomplished something can make you feel wonderful. Even if the goal is simply to clean out the closet, you develop a sense of productivity. Don’t just wander aimlessly through life allowing things to happen to you. Setting your own goals, puts you in charge.
There are also ways to help our children to react positively to change:
- Plan for situations. If you are moving, let the children know the plan and be clear about it.
- Make the move as concrete as you can. Mark the stages on the calendar.
- Have a ceremony around change. If you are moving, have a good- bye party for the house.
- Celebrate the change, don’t mourn it.
- Have children be a part of the planning. Before you move, visit their new school and if possible meet the teachers and have a dry run walking to school.
- Let your children know that you are also anxious about change. They need to know that it is normal to be apprehensive about change and to feel anger at having change forced on you.
- Know which of your children deal easily with change and which children you may have to work with a little more when facing change.
- Remember your attitude and philosophy toward change also reflects on your children.
Our world is constantly changing and there is nothing that can be done to change that. But how we accept and respond to change is within our control. We can deny that change happens and fight it every step of the way. Or we can face change, approach it with a positive attitude and make the most of the changes in our lives.