As I write this about change I am moving between reflection and inspiration. Let’s face it we are told time and time again that change is difficult, tough, hard and yet in my reflection I realise – and this is hindsight – that it is none of those things. It is simply change and the reactions are mine! Alongside this is the reality that change is constant, continuous and yes, it can be challenging. Given my background I definitely know that.
However it is that because our resistance is usually based around emotion attached to a value, something we may lose, impact on status, having to learn something new, or as happens very often and – particularly in work and relationship settings, no or little context for change – our lack of choice.
However coming back to change itself for a moment and in a very simplistic view we are being forced out of our comfort zone and the brain being ‘lazy’ will find ways to rationalise, justify and resist that change. Often we hear terms like “Oh, that’s just the way we (or I) have always done that” or “I’m too old to change” and “Who cares, it’s been like that forever”.
Several years ago when I was working in sales and was training a range of organisations and their teams to understand the importance of objectivity in their roles I would introduce the analogy of being store blind. Simply put over time when we go to the same environment day on day we become used to and accept what is there.
Over time as the cobwebs build up and the dust gathers and the pile of stuff gets slightly bigger we stop seeing these things as things that need to be cleaned up or changed so they just become the way things are. We become blind to what could and probably should change. Someone on the outside looking in may think that the place needs a clean-up, a tidy-up or a revamp and may make comment about it – and not to us!
How is this important at a personal level? How do we make change happen if we are lost in our own perspective and people aren’t telling us what we need to know in order to change? From my experience there are four key stages to any change, each of them critical and one without which there will be no change – it is the step change.
The first is Awareness – becoming aware that change is necessary, needed and now. In many cases people won’t change unless the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the same and our optimism that “it’ll be OK” or our resistance “better the devil you know” gets in the way.
The second step is Understanding – understanding what it is that really needs to be changed i.e. identifying and approaching change at the cause not the symptom.
The third step is Acceptance – this is the key. Regardless of circumstance, change will not happen without your commitment that it is your right, your role, and your responsibility to be accountable for your life, your decisions, your behaviour. That can be tough but it’s true.
The last piece and the easiest after the journey to get there is taking Action – setting the plan in place with achievable steps and milestones that take you to your defined future. When we put aside the excuses and challenge our thinking we can easily change. I know the realisation is difficult and then the steps challenging however when you can realise “what is, is” you can take objective perspective and move forward.
It’s funny really that we have nothing to lose by taking steps to make change happen. Any step is a change. Try this simple approach and all the best with the journey.