by Motivational Speaker Connie Podesta
As a motivational speaker, clients often ask if I have a keynote topic about “How to Deal with Change.” And my answer is always “Yes, I do. It is a four-word workshop and the title is ‘Change. Deal With It!’” It always gets a laugh –until they realize I’m serious. I can read their minds. They think, “What? No sympathy for what we are going through? No techniques on how to ‘survive’ change? No words of wisdom telling us we need to ’embrace’ change? No lectures on how to be a better ‘change agent’?”
Nope, none from me.
Why? Because the truth is: Dealing with change is in our DNA. Managing, overcoming and adapting to change is nothing new – right? I mean we’ve been doing it since day one as human beings haven’t we? Our ancestors boarded ships, left families, braved new worlds, created new cultures – and they got through it without all the workshops, hype, books, self-help classes and therapy. (Well, therapy may have helped!)
We have evolved to react to change instinctively–to assess the situation quickly, weigh the options, decide what course of action to take that would give us the best results and move forward. We didn’t make it this far because we learned how to SURVIVE CHANGE–we survived because we were WILLING to CHANGE.
So the big question is: Why do so many people act like CHANGE is some new enemy that has entered our lives that we must arm ourselves against so we can “survive” and live to tell about it? Many people ask, “Connie, are you saying change is fun?” Yeah, as a matter of fact, sometimes it really is. Most of us have no problem changing restaurants each time we eat out, changing houses once in awhile to a different or better neighborhood, changing styles of clothes or changing cars every few years. More than half of the population has even changed spouses and most would say that was a good thing (but, unfortunately not all). We are constantly changing our music, our hobbies, our friends, our wallpaper, our vacation spots, our landscaping, our furniture, our insurance carrier, our retirement plan, our attitudes–and our minds.
So….why are some changes doable and others become total stressors? Because– it is also human nature to want to be in control of our own lives. You are more willing to do what it takes to handle the changes YOU have decided are for the best, but when it comes to changes that are suggested, demanded, necessary, required or presented TO YOU–then that’s a whole different story. The brain brakes screech you to a halt screaming “Wait a minute here. This change is going to require work, effort, experience, training, resolve, determination, an attitude adjustment, money, cooperation, and who knows what else and I HAVEN’T EVEN DECIDED IT IS IN MY BEST INTEREST YET! Then come the questions: Can I do it? Will I do it well? How much time is involved? Will this make my life better? Does this make sense? Where do I fit?
And now the true enemies of change begin to fill you up–anxiety, stress, worry, or fear. These are the emotions that make change difficult–not change itself. So what to do? First, resist both immediate impulses: flight or fight. Neither one of these will help at all. Ignoring change is putting off the inevitable. Resisting change creates even more stress. Stay put and realize that you are built, mentally and physically, to handle change. It is who you are! Trust your instincts. Learn it, do it, figure it out, practice it, analyze it, find solutions, make decisions, and stop worrying about whose idea it was–yours or theirs.
Again, my best advice for managing change: Deal with it! Why? Because you can!