Four Tips for What to Do if Faced with Change You Didn't Want
I teach a lot of change management classes, and one of the key concepts we talk about that helps people move from “A” (current state) to “B” (future state) is knowing that B is better. John Kotter, the authority on leading change in an organizational context, says that we have to make sure “B” is obviously and urgently better than “A” in order to get a group of people to let go of “A” and move towards “B”. If you’re interested, I invite you to check out our Change Infographic or any of our Change classes. Many of these changes presume that you’re changing within the context of an organization, wherein the leaders of that organization have made a decision that “B” is better than “A” and that the journey to “B” will help move us forward in a positive way.
But what if you’re moving towards a “B” that isn’t obviously better?
What if “B” is still unknown?
What if the “B” you can see is not as good as “A” was – or perhaps much, much worse?
As we adjust to our new, temporary norm of social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems obvious that things are changing. I am fundamentally convinced that we will not go back to exactly the way things were before. We have left “A”. But, as the weeks pass, it’s hard to know what “B” is going to be.
People are hurting and “B” doesn’t look good. Many of them are thinking “I’ve been pushed off the cliff, and ‘A’ is gone, but I’m not sure how to get to ‘B’ or if I even want to get there.” What they’re saying is that truly, they’re in the midst of a change they didn’t ask for, a change, that perhaps they didn’t want.
We don’t have to be in a global pandemic to experience changes that we don’t want. How many of us have been part of layoffs, product shifts, market changes, geographic moves, injuries, and other losses that we didn’t want. So what do we do? How do we get through change when we don’t want it?
Here are four tips for what to do if you are faced with change you didn’t want.
- Allow yourself to cast a critical lens at what was. That’s not to say that it was all bad, but let’s not idealize it or romanticize it – it wasn’t perfect. This is your chance to actively work on solving one of those things that wasn’t ideal before and make it even better in the future. Find something in “A” that wasn’t great and focus on ways to make it better in “B.” How could this take place? Some places to start could include:
- Your working relationships with your boss or colleagues
- Your role or job title or career path
- The way you spent your free time
- The way you spent your dollars
Allow yourself to use this current change to make something good out of something that wasn’t quite right before.
- Play a game of “I Spy Something Good” – What’s something good that can come out of this, that has come out of this, or that will come out of this change? Unless you are one of the few people who are wired like my father, this must be done intentionally. There are, indeed, chronic optimists out there: there are people who look around and see the good, pretty much without trying. But oftentimes in the darkness, finding the hope and the good is a lot harder for even the optimists. I invite you to look for something good. Maybe you can’t be looking down the road because the future is unknown. Take a look around you instead. Switch your lenses. Maybe even stop and smell the roses and discover how wonderfully aromatic they are. Delight in the birds in the trees or the calm in the sunset. Take a look at the people around you. Take every moment and search for the positive however small. Maybe take time to start a journal and reflect on the daily positives. Acknowledge that we as people are naturally wired to see the negative and make an intentional effort to look for the good.
Make an active effort to dwell on the positive so that you can see and delight in the positive.
- Prioritize your own development – What are you learning from this? I can read those books I hadn’t had time for. I can connect with that mentor I haven’t seen in a while. I can watch webinars and take trainings and develop my skills. If I’ve always wanted to get better at human interaction, then I will go and take a class. It might be career focused, but it might not. Develop yourself. Dan Pink teaches on mastery and how it motivates us. Find something, hone in on it, intentionally develop it, and you will see growth.
- One step at a time, you may find that you’ve come a very long way even though no single step felt huge. Faithfully put a few minutes towards your own development each day and enjoy the dividends over time!
- Periods of pain are often periods of growth. Think about the ways you can grow through this pain or stretch through this discomfort. How would you like to come out greater or stronger or a better version of you?
- Consider a past growth you’ve been through – how did you capitalize on that growth then, and what will you do now? Use a prior life experience as a reference point to do even better this time.
Use this transition to make sure that the you who arrives eventually in “B” is a better version of you in some way.
- Rely on your faith foundation and know that “B” is going to be better. As a person of faith, I rely on Romans 8:28. The New Revised Standard Version puts it this way: “28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Many quote the verse from Jeremiah 29:11: “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future.”. Those who believe in this principle know that the present darkness will fade, and the joy of tomorrow will shine. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there is something greater ahead, and if it is not in this life on this earth, then it is in heaven where I’ll spend my eternity. Better is coming. If I watch for it and anticipate it and hope for it, I reduce the risk of missing it when it comes. And if I don’t happen to find better here on this side of Heaven, then once I get there, I know I’ll experience a joy beyond anything I’ve experienced here. Better is coming.
Use this opportunity to renew your faith or to seek out a firm foundation on which you can rest easy.
I invite you to reach out with any questions or ask me about my faith journey – I’m happy to share!