Things Change

I had a moment of clarity a few weeks ago.  You know the type of moment I’m talking about - the moment when you suddenly understand one of the deeper mysteries of life.  The clarity was so profound and yet so simple…

Things change!

Yes, that’s it; the profound yet simple insight that things do actually change.  Situations, cities, countries, accepted social norms, technology…they all change and sometimes at a rapid pace!  But most importantly, people change. They age, grow, mature, and develop new interests and perspectives on life and others. 

We know things change; it’s nothing new.  But why do we try so extraordinarily hard to keep things the same? Why do we actively work to maintain the status quo in our lives, our roles, and even our society?

I have the privilege of working with senior executives who find themselves in a situation of change, sometimes of their own accord but often not. Their first instinct is to resist the change and seek a new role, just like their last role (which isn’t always the best path).

So what is it about change that causes us to resist it so strongly? I contend that it’s fear; fear of the unknown which can stand in our way.  When change and fear arises, we typically respond by attempting to control – control our situation, our lives, relationships, our fear, even our age.

Although this is understandable, I suggest that there is possibly a better way forward – embrace the fact that things change and go along for the ride!

As the Dalai Lama so succinctly puts it, “If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.” 

In my role as a change strategist, I walk alongside my client as a fellow traveller on their journey. I can’t tell you how often I hear that a particular change situation has led to a positive outcome. In fact, most clients would say that they wished that they had just relaxed more and not been so anxious about the change and where it was leading.

And why is that? Well, I think that it’s because we view the present situation – relationship, role, etc. – as a ‘destination.’ We think we have arrived, in some way, so any movement from that destination is strongly resisted.

I believe that we need to shift from ‘destination’-thinking to ‘directional’-thinking where we think about the direction in which we are or would like to head. And further, to understand whether we are heading in the ‘correct’ direction at this moment in time.

To do this we need to have a better sense of who we are, what makes us tick, what gives us meaning, and where we are at the present.  It helps to have a general sense of our direction for moving forward, yet for many this can be difficult. So much of what we know about life, career, and roles is founded in what society tells us at school, university, and in our jobs. Often we don’t take time to understand ourselves because we’re heading to the destination where society has placed a great emphasis. We move ‘accidentally’ rather than intentionally with forethought.

I suggest moving intentionally! There are a number of ways to do this and self-assessment is the best starting point. Whether using a proven assessment that provides insight into your life and career drivers or walking through a self-awareness approach on your own, nothing provides more insight than conducting a self-analysis. Regardless of your direction, knowing your starting point helps you choose a direction that works best for you.

Do the work to understand your drivers and your journey. Engage an experienced Coach, to serve as a travel companion, sounding board and co-pilot, if need be. Then trust and enjoy the journey. 

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