I’ve said it before, this year is all about being brave. There is a reason behind that. About a year ago I stepped out of a zone that was so comfortable it resembled a smelly old couch with arse grooves waiting for me to sink into. Don’t get me wrong, my comfort zone had lots great about it. It knew me well, it was reliable and it was easy to jump onto when I felt overwhelmed.
The problem was that I had gotten a little too comfortable so when I finally did step out of it there was a whole world of shiny and new that I’d never even known existed and it all looked a little bit scary!
Great news though, as soon as I tried out the shiny and new, I realised how unbelievably exciting it is. That was the moment that I realised that even though every change will impact our lives, it’s how we approach it that will decide if it’s a great opportunity or a soul-destroying new reality.
Understand how you do change
Remember those change management classes you took when you first learnt about the change curve? Sure, shock, denial and anger do form part of change but there’s more to the process than simply following a line along some typical stages. We all have our own processes for managing change and what can really help us it to become aware of our processes, dial up those that are adding value and removing anything that’s causing us to become stuck in one spot too long.
To learn how you do change, go back to the last 3 big changes in your life. What were some of the things that were consistent for you in all situations? Mine goes something like this:-
- I become the organiser and try to problem solve — it’s how I do denial I guess
- I make sure everyone is ok
- I replay things over and over again considering all of the things I wish I had said or done
- I think methodically about next steps
- I plan what I want my outcomes to be
- I focus on achieving those outcomes
- I think about what the change taught me
Once you’ve got your list it’s time for you to eliminate the parts of the process that are holding you back. From my list, I’ve been able to eliminate much of the time I spend reliving a situation and I’ve learnt to get out of my head. Don’t get me wrong, I still do it. The difference now is that when I catch myself in “poor me” mode, I make a decision to snap out of it.
This elimination process might prove a little challenging if you’ve been stuck in the same cycle of processes for a long time, however, having someone hold you accountable can help you adjust. In my case, my fiance is great at reminding me when I need to chill. Choose someone that knows you well and allow them the power to call you out when you’re falling into old habits.
See it as an opportunity
A change is as good as a holiday right? Whether the change was your decision or it’s been forced on you, there’s an opportunity in there somewhere. Only you can decide how you respond but if you choose to respond excited by the opportunity it presents the doors will open. Change your mindset to change your outcome.
“They may take our lives but they will never take our freedom.” — Braveheart
So what are your outcomes? Maybe you have more time to do things you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe you can try something new. Maybe you get to take the next step or maybe you get to reconnect. Whatever circumstance you find yourself in, focusing on the opportunity will allow you to move forward quickly and lead to exponential growth.
Stay in your circle of influence
We have 11 million bits of information vying for our attention at any point. Focusing in on could have’s and should have’s can drive us mad, wastes our energy and leaves us feeling out of control. Focus your attention on your circle of influence — those areas within your control. You might not have control over the change but you may be able to have influence over the final outcome and you certainly have influence around your own reaction so that’s where you want to focus your attention.
One of the best examples I’ve seen of someone working in their circle of influence is Pete Frates who after being diagnosed with MND in March 2012, decided that while he couldn’t change the outcome of his diagnosis, he could raise awareness and much-needed funds for his disease. The ice bucket challenge was a worldwide phenomenon and continues in various forms to provide for MND research.
To identify things within your circle of influence, write down a list of anything to do with the change that’s within your control. Once you’ve done that, next to each point write down which ways you have influence and any steps you will take to achieve the outcome that you would like.
For example, you may find yourself out of a job. Where do you have control over that situation?
- In how you react
- Deciding what you do next
- Deciding whether to jump straight into your next job or
- Deciding to use it as an opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted to do
- Managing your budget for when you are in between roles
Using this list to identify your areas of influence and focus your attention is a great exercise to apply to any change whether it be a relationship ending, job change, change in family dynamic, financial situation or even health challenges.
By working within your circle of influence when a change occurs, you allow yourself the headspace to move forward and achieve the right outcomes for you.
It’s time to celebrate change! Learning how to “do” change well could open up opportunities that you’ve never imagined so when change comes, grab it with both hands.
There’s a beauty in even the darkest of changes that deserves embracing. Remember, just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly!
In this year of change I’ve started an amazing new job, run some great events, started a blog, started studying again, started a business and have my first 2-page spread in a print magazine coming out next month. I’ve been able to achieve all of this and more by eliminating those parts of the process that hold me back, focusing my attention on the opportunities I now have and working within my circle of influence. It all starts with a little self-awareness.