Five strategies for personal change

By Anne Bachrach

A.M. Enterprises (The Accountability Coach)


Progress requires change, so we must develop change strategies that reduce our resistance and allow us to view change with a positive and constructive attitude. Although the majority of us initially react to change with feelings of anxiety and disorientation, most of us are able, over time, to respond with a more favorable and positive mindset.

We live in a dynamic and progressive world, and progress cannot occur without change. Your attitude towards change determines how you prepare and adjust to it.

Change is inevitable. In fact, change can occur so frequently and regularly that in many cases, we hardly notice it. We change our hairstyles, our fashions, our relationships, our opinion, or we rearrange the furniture — all with little or no resistance.

So, why do some of us react like a nuclear war is pending when we are confronted with change?

Familiarity with our surroundings, friends, relationships and working environments allow us to reside safely inside our comfort zone. And comfort equals security. However, large changes require us to step outside our comfort zone, adapt to new patterns of behavior and learn new techniques for survival.

Change makes us uneasy. Even when a change seems logical and reasonable, we ask ourselves, “Why can’t things remain as they are? I liked it just the way it was.”

But that kind of thinking is self-delusional; we all want to change, whether we admit to it or not. Sure, there are people who say they are happy the way they are, but they are not being truthful with themselves. We all want to be better, faster, stronger, richer, more powerful, happier, more fulfilled; the list goes on and on. So, why then do most of us vehemently resist change?
Change is a fact of life

Progress requires change, so we must develop change strategies that reduce our resistance and allow us to view change with a positive and constructive attitude. Although the majority of us initially react to change with feelings of anxiety and disorientation, most of us are able, over time, to respond with a more favorable and positive mindset. After all, nine times out of 10, change brings about new opportunities to improve our position, our well-being, our environments and our circumstances.

Occasionally, change is precipitated by destructive, stressful circumstances like divorce, death or natural disasters. When catastrophic change occurs, most people require time and support to enable them to deal with the grieving process before they can adapt to the new changes that have been thrust upon them. But like our response to grief, our response to change varies, depending on our inherent qualities and attitudes.

So, what coping mechanisms can we put in place to ensure we embrace change with a positive attitude and a sense of excitement in the possibilities?

In their book, “Strategic Management: A Methodological Approach," Alan Rowe and Richard Mason describe four decision-making styles that influence how you adapt to and cope with change. Which one best describes you?

Analytical coping strategy

For you, change is a puzzle that has to be solved. You gather information, analyze data and draw conclusions based on the facts you have gathered. Like a mathematical equation, you will resist change until you have the answer.

Conceptual coping strategy

You visualize change as the bigger picture and need to define the why, where and how change will take place. You need to actively participate in the change process or you will feel excluded.

Behavioral coping strategy

Your focus is on the emotional well-being of those who are undergoing change. It is important for you to feel comfortable and secure with the proposed changes and know that you have the full support of those around you.
Directive coping strategy

Change is like a game of football to you. There are rules, strategies, game plans and a desired outcome. You will act decisively and actively as long as the game plan is clearly defined.

The five strategies for change management

1. Focus on the positives

Change generally results in a positive outcome. Rather than focus on feelings you may be experiencing like insecurity, discomfort or anxiety, concentrate instead on how the new experience will enhance your current situation. Imagine yourself once the changes have taken place and think about how good they will make you feel. Imagine yourself feeling re-energized, optimistic, excited and exhilarated.

2. Nullify the negatives

Be honest and ask yourself what is it that’s holding you back? What beliefs are you clinging to which prevent you from moving forward? What is the worst possible outcome you could experience from change?

Once you take a realistic and logical look at the reasons why you are resisting change, you will find that most of them are unrealistic and illogical.

3. Clarify your commitment

Change requires commitment and self-discipline. You won’t always get it right the first time, so you’ve got to find the strength and purpose to get back up and try again. You’ll find the reward is worth it.

4. Look after yourself

Change, no matter how big or small, requires a healthy mind and a healthy body. Change doesn’t have to occur overnight — it may take weeks, even months, to make the necessary changes. Take care of yourself. Eat regularly, exercise, breathe and make time to relax and acknowledge how far you’ve come.

5. Be flexible

Changes don’t always occur the way we imagined. You may encounter curve balls and forks in the road you weren’t expecting. Give yourself enough latitude to readjust for the unexpected. Neal Maxwell said, “It is not the years but the changes that make us grow.”

Don’t waste time and energy fighting the inevitable. Learn to see change as a new adventure on the road through life and embrace the future!