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Curiosity Helped the Cat

5 Ways Curiosity Can Help You Through Change


Change can be pretty disruptive. Whether it’s the changing seasons, changing semesters, or changing priorities – change can shake things up…sometimes for good, sometimes – it seems – less so. And change usually brings an overabundance of emotion. The tricky part about emotions is that they sometimes cloud our ability to think clearly or rationally. Feelings are important, but they’re not the same as thoughts. When we need to access our thoughts, and we’re having “all the feels,” we run the risk of missing something, over-emphasizing something, or worse yet, not being aware of how this same change impacts those around us.

Whether you’re looking forward to something new, or caught off guard by a setback you weren’t expecting, here are five ways to tap into curiosity to make the transition a little smoother.


My colleague Barb Ranck has been talking about curiosity a lot lately, and I’ve gotten curious about curiosity. The practical applications of this thought process are pretty staggering – tune into the Even Better podcast episode on April 18th where she talks about it, and you can learn more.


1. Perspective

Before the change is fully under way, especially if you’re contemplating an intentional change, get curious about what you like and don’t like about the status quo. Get curious about the good and the bad. Get curious about the things you do just because that’s the way you’ve always done them. Make a note of the things that you’re leaving behind – good and bad – as well as the things you’re looking forward to – good and bad. File these away for future use for yourself, and use them to help connect with others who might be fearing the same loss or anticipating the same future. Take a second to wonder how your perspective on what you’re leaving behind and your perspective on where you’re headed is different from others who are also involved. 


2. History

As you’re grieving the loss of the way things were, get curious about how you’ve handled loss in the past. What did you do the last time you let go of something you appreciated? What got you through last time? Let’s say you’ve just experienced a pretty significant priority change, and you’d felt pretty good about where you were headed before the change. Get curious about the thought process or emotional exercises you went through to embrace that priority in the first place. If you did it before, you can do it again with a new priority.


3. Right Now

When you reach that valley of uncertainty, where nothing feels firm or solid beneath your feet, get curious about what would make things better, right now. Let’s say the change is from an average winter day to an extended swirl in a polar vortex, where even a few moments outside makes your face burn from the cold. Let’s say the wintry wonder of Christmas is behind us, Spring is so far away we can’t see it from here, and all that remains between now and warmer days is cold, and more bitter cold. Maybe you’re a bit numb from the run outside to pry the mailbox open or to chisel the paper off the front step. What if, just what if, we used curiosity to figure out what makes the next five minutes better. Maybe instead of “how do I endure this unstable period for the weeks or months ahead” you ask, with genuine curiosity, “how do I make the next few minutes more pleasant?” The solution might be a cup of tea, a call to a friend, a step closer to the space heater, an extra sweater or blanket, or a set of seventy-nine cent hot-hands from Menards. 


4. Climbing the Learning Curve

As you’re climbing up the steep learning curve, learning new skills and approaches, taking hold of the new, you’ll also experience the inevitable setbacks. It’s not quite one step forward, two steps back, but some days it sure feels like two steps forward and one step back. In those tiring days of stretching and growing, get curious about two different things.

First, get curious about how far you’ve come. Unlike climbing a steep ladder, “don’t look down” might not be sage advice here – instead, get curious about how many hills you’ve already scaled, how many setbacks you’ve already tackled, how much progress you’ve made, and how much smarter and stronger you are for getting here.

Second, get curious about how you can help those around you. Instead of dwelling on your own sweaty endeavors, take a beat and focus on the people around you who could use a lift. You see, we’re almost never in a period of change alone. Instead of dwelling on what you need, get curious about what someone else needs and how you can help them. Maybe offer a word of encouragement, a compliment of genuine praise, help completing a task or learning something new, or even a few minutes to think about anything other than the change at hand.


5. Retrospection

You’ve done it – you arrived at the new! The transition from where you were to where you are now is complete – congratulations! And here’s one more great moment to get curious about. What would you do differently if you could go back? What did you learn that you wouldn’t want to forget for next time? What went well that you should make a note of so you can repeat that in the future when you need it? And what will make this new state even better going forward? And if you’re still looking for a way to apply curiosity, then get curious about how you can use the experience you’ve just been through to make someone else’s journey a little easier.


If you didn’t catch on, these were the stages of transition from our Change Infographic – check it out here! 


How about you? How do you use curiosity to make change and transition smoother?  


Topics: Sinikka Waugh, Change & Transition

Sinikka Waugh

About the Author

Sinikka Waugh

Sinikka Waugh is a recognized leader in understanding people and in adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. Since 2006, Sinikka has provided compassionate leadership in transformation initiatives. When she isn’t in front of a class, she enjoys putting her background in English and French Literature to work, by writing blogs about the subjects she teaches every day. Are you ready? If you are, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!


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