Change is eminent, yet embracing change is an art few are willing to master. Despite progress demanding change, fear and anxiety abounds for the many.
That's why countless books have been written on the topic of change. In fact, an entire niche of consultants exist in the name of “change management.” This is big business because change is something so many people fear.
"Fearless people embrace the flow of life with perseverance and determination. They view life as an adventure, not an ordeal.” - Barbara Melton Perkins
Since change cannot be avoided, here are some helpful tips on how to simply embrace it in your life.
Embracing Change Tip #1: Create Understanding and Awareness
Understanding why change causes fear is the first step to embracing it. Even the smallest instance of change requires a mental shift to identify how to adapt. This, in turn, causes necessary (and natural) stress.
For example, if your normal route to work now has construction underway, you are forced to detour. That can be inconvenient and frustrating, but your brain quickly adapts to your new route. Without a choice, you are compelled to take a new road.
It is your choice, however, whether you fuss about the change every day or if you turn up your volume and jam out despite it.
Once you understand the change is happening, awareness follows suit. Awareness is key to overcoming the fear of change throughout the entire change process.
Awareness allows you to accept the initial fear response, followed by doubt and resistance. Then, as you move through the discomfort and anxiety prompted by change, you can look forward to a new season of understanding. Finally, you can graduate to confidence and acceptance.
Knowing there is a process in accepting change is the first step.
Embracing Change Tip #2: Declare Death to the "What If" Syndrome
Destroy the negative thoughts that tend to surface when facing the fear of change. Change naturally leads to self-torturous questions of doom like repeatedly asking yourself, “what if.” Especially, “what if I fail?”
One of my favorite things to do is remedy “what if” syndrome with my own “what if” game. When my mind starts to go down a path of possible negative outcomes, I counter those with a positive set of “what if” outcomes.
Go ahead, try it the next time you are tempted to be the fortuneteller for your life. When you get through all the dire outcomes your brain can possibly conjure, lay out all the many beneficial outcomes that could come to pass, as well.
You will soon find your energy shifting, your attitude changing and your mind expanding. Funny how quickly you can put a chokehold on that fear of change with the right line of thinking!
Embracing Change Tip #3: Ask, “What’s the Worse Thing That Can Happen?”
I frequently tell the story of how my friend, Connie Sue Davenport, helped me move beyond fear. I, a single mom at the time, was considering taking the entrepreneurial leap for the first time. She had a successful antiques and personal property appraisal business in Nashville for years. That’s a pretty niched down way to generate income, so I wanted to get her take on how she managed to do it on her own for so long.
Connie told me that she made many of her hard decisions by asking a simple question:
"What’s the worst thing that could happen?"
She said if she could live with her answer, she did it.
Since that day years ago, I’ve applied that question to my decision making time and time again. And let me tell ya, jumping to the future and staring fear in the face on the front end makes change a lot less scary. It enables you to manage the risk on the front end, which then reduces anxiety. Prepare for the worst but expect the best - there are worse ways to live, for sure.
So are you going to allow change to rob you of your goals and keep you from living out your purpose? Or can you flow with change and figure out how to adapt so you can exist in your new normal with success?
Awareness, not denial, is your friend when going through change. So stay in touch with where you are in the process and move through it with grace. Then replace the negative “What If” thinking with positives. Finally, try asking yourself “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” If you can plan for or live with the answer, you're set. By following these tips, you, too, can master the art of embracing change.