The reality is change in your career and personal life can happen in the blink of an eye. But other times it can be slow, planned and expected. In some situations we don’t always have the luxury of time to adapt to change, and in other situations a fast forward button may not be available. Even just the word ‘change’ may trigger an emotional response, memory, experience and plan ranging from joy to the worst discomfort imaginable.
So having healthy ways to deal with change in all it’s forms is needed at home and work.
You may be required to:
- Shift your mindset
- Weigh up the pros and cons
- Make a choice
- Face loss and grief
- Alter your expectations (increase or lower
What mindset do you need to successfully deal with change?
Well, that’s the easy part, you need a ‘growth mindset’, the simple belief that learning is ongoing, your intelligence and capabilities are not fixed, change and challenges bring new opportunities and self-development, loss is a part of life and goals are achieved through dedication and sustained effort.
The ground-breaking idea that all people have a fixed or a growth mindset was put forward by Psychologist Carol Dweck after years of research in the field of achievement and success.
The great news is we can all develop a growth mindset. So changing your fixed mindset from “I hate change” to a growth mindset of “I can handle it”, “I can learn through it”, and “embrace it and/ or grow from it”. This is achievable and can help you live a more resilient life, move through change successfully and enhance your emotional health and wellbeing.
My journey of change, moving from fixed to growth mindset
As a child I would have referred to myself as being “painfully shy, someone who would watch from the side lines and often was too scared to say what was on the tip of my tongue”. I would have also described my marks, due to missing some of the foundation skills in English at school as much to be desired and this further depleted my self-esteem. I had a fixed mindset, thought “I was not smart”and “I could not change my intellectual capacity”. Though, I was curious about human interaction and my shyness allowed me to spend more time listening and learning about different behavioral and communication styles. When I met with the school career counsellor and mentioned that I wanted to become a psychologist – you could imagine how I felt when she virtually laughed at me and said “now we need to be realistic” and proceeded to shoot down my goal, purely based on my academic reports. I finally had the courage to speak up about what I wanted and then in one sentence she had brought me back down to earth.
Something inside me finally said “no” to the negative self-talk, to the people who did not believe in me and I decided to finally prove myself and everyone else wrong and learn” I could grow”. I didn’t have any false hope. I knew I wouldn’t achieve my goal straight away but “with hard effort, I would get there”. I was going to change my fixed mindset around “not being smart enough” and being “too shy” to a growth mindset.
And I proceeded to do so….
Shedding my unwanted cloak and developing a growth mindset
With sheer determination, I decided to make the biggest of change of my life when I left high school and that was to shed my ‘shy’ cloak and learn to change and believe that I could learn to have a voice that mattered. I decided that for my own wellbeing, this change was worth fighting for. I was on my path to develop a growth mindset and I started to make changes in my life. I would challenge myself to speak up in group situations. Even if my discomfort levels could be described in the red zone and the worst I could think of, I still proceeded with my challenge as I knew with time I would grow and gradually become more comfortable. I managed to get in to Uni, but was faced with lots of obstacles and comments on my reports like “you have great ideas, but don’t know how to express yourself, your grammar and ability to write is poor”. But with support, I am still continue to grow in the writing space and have achieved my goal to becoming a psychologist. A career that I continue to grow and develop through.
So when I reflect on successful change in my own life, I can confidently say it occurred when I rubbed my hands together and said, “OK, what do I need to do to make this work?” Then I developed the goals, habits, skills, qualities and beliefs that I could change and be resilient.
7 things you need to face change resiliently:
- Take extra care of yourself – times of change can be physically and mentally taxing, so even 10 mins of uninterrupted ‘me time’ can benefit your whole body, have a look my busy is the new black blog for some practical tips.
- Ongoing curiosity and flexibility – wanting to learn more is essential to transition well through change. So approach change with a scientific, curious or childlike fascination. Be open to the different directions that the change may bring.
- Acceptance and readiness – this does not mean opening your arms without question, but being ready to face what the change will bring. This may require courage and an openness to face discomfort
- Be prepared to change habits – this is the hardest step at the beginning, as we are creatures of doing what we have become accustomed to. But remember once the habits have shifted then it will become much easier, as you will have established a set routine.
- Desire to grow – it’s OK to stumble, and to get stuck, but learning happens when you expose yourself to new experiences and different ways of doing things. Be prepared to develop your growth mindset.
- Sustained effort – unfortunately ‘hope’ and ‘finger crossing’ alone won’t bring you over the line. Like all good things in life effort overtime is needed.
- Believe you can change – Sometimes we hold onto our fears from the past when we are faced with change: Will I be able to cope? Is it going to be too hard for me? If you are stuck on your negative beliefs, counselling can help you address your blocks and help you to a shift to mindset that promotes change.
What to do when change is not a choice?
Take a deep breath. Ask yourself what is the cost-benefit of getting on board with the change?
Take the time to map this out.
Now be honest with yourself and assess your openness or resistance to this change.
It is sometimes hard to admit you just don’t want to change because it may mean changing habits, changing roles or even moving on. Remember it takes more effort to be open to something new, than it is to find fault and reject it. Successful change means you need to be open to learning and doing things differently or expanding on what you already do.
Ask for support – You don’t need to adapt to change on your own…
Working with a coach or counsellor can be beneficial to help you:
- Develop growth mindset
- Come to terms with and accept change
- Implement a change
- Develop strategies to resiliently move through a change.
Thank you for reading my blog and my personal account of what change means to me.
I would appreciate your feedback and look forward to sharing further tips to enhance your resilience and wellbeing in future blogs.
Contributor: Nicole Plotkin is an experienced corporate wellness trainer and principal psychologist at the Emotional Health Centre. She is passionate about working with individuals and workplaces to promote, enhance and restore wellness at work and at home through team based resilience, mental health and stress management training programs and individual counselling sessions.