Transform Your Career By Changing How You View “Change”
The following is a guest post by Virginia Fraser. Her bio follows.
Mentioning ‘change’ can send shivers down the spines of today’s workforce in unprecedented ways. The prospect is particularly unnerving in the working world because it requires adjustments, on the individual and organizational level, which are rife with uncomfortable transitions and unknowns. The unease that is associated with navigating workplace changes isn’t just a figment of professionals’ imaginations either. Even 19th century English writer Arnold Bennett once wrote, “any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.”
Research supports the heavy burden that change can inflict on professionals as they move through their careers. In fact, a 2013 Harris poll reported 57 percent of those surveyed cited lack of security and increased uncertainty as the biggest barriers to changing careers. Other factors that contribute to this may be associated with the inevitability of uncomfortable, transitional career events like hiring interviews, exit interviews, working on a new team or leaving an old team.
If you feel more daunted than invigorated by the process of instigating or responding to change, you’re not alone. Luckily, keeping a few key things in mind can help you embrace change instead of dreading it.
Here’s what I recommend:
Focus on the constant variable – yourself
Arguably one of the most difficult things about change is lacking a sense of control. Change to the status quo can make you feel like everything is up in the air, leaving you to walk (and work) on shaky ground. During these times it’s important to root yourself in the only thing you do have control of – yourself. Since stress is caused by the loss of things that are important to you, you must be attuned to your feelings so you can take steps toward finding ways to fill the gaps. To do this, think about the characteristics of your personality that come naturally to you and draw on these strengths to help you navigate the unknown variables. Indian actress and philanthropist Priyanka Chopra advises, “any transition is easier if you believe in yourself and your talent.”
Embrace the middle ground
Change can come about suddenly or gradually and can be instigated by ourselves or others. These variables impact our acceptance of the new status quo, and also impact how we navigate between the old and new. Author and coach Nancy Levin recommends that we “honor the space between no longer and not yet.” To do this, it’s important that you don’t dwell on the past. Instead, push yourself to accept the middle ground and acknowledge that you’re in a transition period. This will help to increase your adaptability, which can support your response to change in the future, regardless of how surprising or inconvenient it may be. Embracing times of transition will lead you away from the change itself and allow you to move toward realizing the transformation it can bring.
Lean into learning opportunities
Change can provide an opportune chance to have important conversations with yourself and others. Using organizational change as an excuse to recalibrate your understanding of yourself can be very useful, personally and professionally. Businessman Dan Gilbert reminds us, “human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.” Self-awareness tools, like Insights Discovery, which evaluate psychometric data and leverage personality principles, can be very helpful resources to learn more about yourself and how you respond to change. By leaning into the subtle and overt development opportunities that change constructs, we also lean into the possibility of our own transformation in the process.
Change gets a bad reputation because it requires individuals, teams, leaders and organizations to make adjustments. These adjustments can take us out of our comfort zones and force us to face issues (internally and externally) that we’re not prepared to face. And while, it may feel more comfortable to stay closed off to change, with the right mindset, change can set us on trajectories in our personal and professional lives that we wouldn’t have achieved without the nudge change afforded us. British novelist, C.S. Lewis captured it best when he wrote, “it may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird; it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.”
About the Author: Virginia Fraser
Virginia is a writer and editor for global learning and development company, Insights. She is passionate about sharing people-focused stories and insights into the working world that illustrate the connection between personal development and organizational success.