changing the way we think about change.
changing the way we think about change.
A wide range of emotions are often evoked when we’re in the thick of change. Anticipation, fear, anxiety, stress, but also joy, satisfaction, exhilaration, and peace. One emotion that is often overlooked, however, is gratitude.
Some might argue that gratitude isn’t, in fact, an emotion, but is instead an action. I believe it is both. In order to show gratitude externally, we must first feel grateful from within.
Many of us have closed ourselves off from such emotions of gratitude because they can be overwhelming and raw. It’s not that we don’t appreciate of the generosity of others, but to allow ourselves to truly feel such generosity, to completely open ourselves up to receive these acts of kindness, can result in strong emotions. Because truly generous acts are reflections of love. And allowing ourselves to receive love can be an uphill struggle for some, especially if we believe we are unworthy of it.
To think that other people consider us worthy when we do not is a difficult inconsistency to resolve, not to mention to recognize, until we’re emotionally prepared to do so.
One way to open ourselves up to receive such gifts of gratitude and love is to put ourselves in the shoes of another who looks upon us with unconditional love. If you aren't sure how to do this, take a look at this post, which outlines the specific steps involved.
As we in the U.S. prepare to celebrate this time of giving thanks, I encourage you to also consider gratitude - for others, as well as for yourself.
It takes courage and inner strength to navigate change, and remembering and appreciating these characteristics within ourselves can help us to also show up in greater capacity for others.
Wishing you and yours a festive Thanksgiving filled with gratitude, love and joy!
Some of us consider change to be a hassle. A disruption to our lives. Others find it frightening to step into the great unknown.
As for me, I think of change as like a holiday. A break from the regular routine, and with the potential for some awesome surprises.
When we don’t know what’s yet to come, we have a wonderful opportunity to imagine. There are so many options available from which to choose, or we can leave things up to chance to determine our path.
Either way, looking at change this way can definitely make it feel lighter and much more enjoyable.
When we take a holiday, whether something traditional like Thanksgiving or New Year, or personal such as a vacation, we usually have a break from our normal routines.
We plan and prepare in a way that brings delight to ourselves or to others. Sometimes, the preparations up-front are more enjoyable than the actual event! And that is the point. One of the great things about holidays is that they are usually something we tend to look forward to.
Engage in joyful anticipation.
Remember as children (and hopefully also as adults) how exciting it was before holidays and our birthday as we wondered how it would all turn out? It is in this anticipation that we often find the greatest joy.
I realize I’ve written in the past about anticipation being an opening for fears to creep into the picture, but if we anticipate joy, there is really no place for fears as long as we allow ourselves to remain within this mindset.
Enjoying the journey is important. And the more we enjoy it, the smoother our adaptation to what comes next is likely to be.
Anticipating what is yet to come, while enjoying ourselves along the way, are two of the the greatest gifts within change, if we allow ourselves to receive them.
So what are you waiting for? Why not give yourself the gift of perspective for the upcoming holidays and enjoy what's yet to come!
I’ve written a fair amount about the difference between fixed versus growth mindsets, with a recent post offering three ideas for fostering the growth mindset to better appreciate and enjoy change.
Today I’m going to change directions from what I had originally listed as next in line in this series of Appreciating Change, because, well, that’s one of the most awesome aspects of change. That we have the freedom, and the right, to change our minds!
The finality of the fixed mindset.
When operating from a fixed mindset, we consider change as a done deal, even before the event itself has happened. We’ve made the decision to change, and therefore we must do it. There is no going back, because we’ve made our choice, and once our choice has been made, that’s the end of that.
But who wrote this rule as it applies to change and human nature?
Why can’t we re-evaluate the situation and decide, "Oops! I’ve made a mistake. I think I’ll shift gears and try this other approach/direction/option instead?"
We have become so fixated on the finality of decisions that we’ve lost sight of our very human capacity to change our minds; to change course.
When driving to your destination, have you ever decided to change your route because traffic in your first route was intolerable? Have you ever returned an item you’ve purchased because it wasn’t what you thought it would be, or for some reason was dissatisfied?
Why the double standard?
Why is it that we find it acceptable to change our minds about those sort of things, but have such a difficult time allowing ourselves to change our minds about change?
It seems that our word has taken precedence to authenticity. And these days we hang on every word.
These days, to change course is to make a mistake, and to make a mistake is bad. I say bullshit.
If we take the adventurer’s perspective with our change, then if one approach isn’t working, it is not just expected that we try a different one, but we have a responsibility to ourselves, and anyone who’s chosen to follow, to do just that. After all, to be self-reliant is to fully trust in ourselves and our instincts.
When involved with collaborative change, we purposefully relinquish some control to the collective wisdom of the group; however, when it comes to our own personal changevolution, the change we make is ours, and ours alone.
While considering others is a good thing to do, if we accommodate their needs or expectations above our own, then we’re basically relinquishing our position to them, and putting them in charge. Fine if that’s our choice, but it’s a travesty when we do that out of fear of being wrong.
Making mistakes is human, and we are entitled to change directions when it feels right. We are our own compass, and by ignoring our internal GPS, we run the risk of getting ourselves, and anyone along for the ride, lost in the process.
Giving ourselves and others the gift of acceptance for changing course is one of the greatest ways to appreciate all that change has to offer.
Our journey of Appreciating Change continues for two more posts. Coming up next: Why Change Is Like A Holiday.
Sometimes change can be overwhelming. Many of us suffer from change fatigue; too many changes in rapid succession.
When these things happen, it is difficult to appreciate, or even to notice, the benefits of change, because we’re just plain tired of it.
When it all becomes a blur because our merry-go-round of change is no longer so merry, we want off. Now.
Savor the spaces.
If this is you, then a great quick and easy technique is notice, and especially to savor the spaces in between. Those gaps that present themselves in tiny little moments in time, like the area between frames in a film.
These can be transformed into moments of solitude, stillness, and calm between the storms:
Make time to appreciate the fast AND the slow.
The best remedy to constant movement is to be covetous of those moments of space in time. Of those small, yet refreshing gifts when we can choose to step off our busy, fluid merry go round life of change, and enjoy a small moment of peace as a personal gift to ourselves.
In doing this, we also awaken our ability to appreciate the fast along with the slow. We regain our balance allowing us to remain more present within our fast-paced, constantly changing life.
And when we once again become overwhelmed or fatigued, we will more easily notice that this is a sign to step back into the gaps and make our own space to just be.
“Sure! Why not?” Jess said, when asked if she’d be willing to fly on short notice for a new job across the country. While she’d miss her friends and parents, she had an adventurer’s spirit and was willing to go where ever the winds of fate guided her.
Fast forward 15 years, and the picture of the free-spirited explorer Jess has been replaced by one of a busy and devoted professional, wife and mother.
When asked if she’d be willing to take a new assignment that would require her to relocate or to spend her weekdays out of state, despite her interest and curiosity, Jess chose to decline. She no longer felt free to choose on a whim, or to follow her now submerged adventurer spirit.
She had responsibilities to others. What kind of mother would she be if she uprooted her family or left her children while she galavanted around each week, leaving the day-to-day responsibilities to her husband?
Responsibility's shadow side.
There are many of us out there who struggle with such decisions, and the pull between adventure and responsibility. Some choose the former, while others go with the later.
In Jess’ situation, she enjoyed the changes that occurred in her life since her first whimsical jaunt for her new job in a new land. It is in part what led her to where she is now. She’d have it no other way.
Except Jess’ life of today is predictable, stable, and filled with responsibilities that often stretch her beyond her comfort zone.
These stretches sometimes feel like a burden, and represent aspects of her life she never realized would be a part of the bargain; coordinating, scheduling and the logistics of parenting, laundry and way more cleaning than she ever had to do in her youth, keeping her clients, colleagues and managers happy. Trying to squeeze brief moments of time for herself.
These days, Jess approaches change with trepidation, as it almost certainly will require some space on her already full plate.
She longs for the days where she fully embraced change and all that came with it. Days when she revered the newness of it all, and was energized by the prospects of transformation.
Flushing out adventures.
Jess is not alone. For one reason or another, many of us who once took joy in change, no longer do so. Others may have never liked it in the first place.
But there is a way to bring out the adventurer’s spirit in change, without having to move to another city, state or country. Here are some tips on how to do that:
But what if instead of slamming the door on opportunity, we invoked our curiosity by asking “I wonder?” I wonder what would happen if I asked to work remotely two weeks out of the month? I wonder if I could reframe the job to better suit my location needs? I wonder.
Something off the wall, unexpected, offering a new perspective and an opportunity to break free of the shackles of structure.
Something as simple as changing-up our usual commute route can even do the trick. Or wearing bright polka dotted socks with our suit.
Adventures make us more nimble.
Creating subtle ways to appreciate change, even when small, can help us to become more nimble when unexpected change occurs.
Remember, we’re always changing, it’s what we pay attention to that matters.
So why not pay attention to those aspects that bring us the most joy? And if there aren’t many of those in our lives right now, why not create our own? You’ll be glad you did!
We are a goal-oriented culture. For some, it is especially exciting to check completed items off of our list, and for others, it’s just the joy and pride in reaching the summit.
Regardless of what it is that guides and motivates us, it is natural to consider a change - any change - as another thing to finish. Once this change has occurred, then we can move on with our lives.
However, our tendency to think of our change as the final frontier, as a destination, can get us into trouble. Here’s why:
1. We are always changing.
There really isn’t anything final about change, because we are always changing. It’s just what we choose to pay attention to that tends to make some changes stand out more than others.
2. The richness of change is in the journey.
By focusing on the outcome, we lose sight of the journey. And it is often the journey that offers us insights into ourselves, and how to more smoothly adapt to both our current, but especially future changes.
By missing those insights, it’s like we’re starting from scratch with each new change. Like a gerbil running in a perpetual treadmill.
3. Is that it?
When focusing on the outcome instead of the journey, we have a greater tendency to feel let down once our change is complete.
We spend so much time anticipating, dreaming, wondering, even fearing the outcome, that the actual change event pales in comparison to how we had imagined it.
4. But wait! There's more!
When we consider the change as ‘the end’ of something, we run the risk of expending all of our attention and energy on the goal and not enough on where we go from there.
An interesting study found that the majority of deaths from attempting to climb Mt. Everest occurred on their descent from the summit.
Appreciating the expansiveness of change.
Thinking of change as a finite experience is representative of a closed-mindset. Whereas a growth mindset offers a much more expansive view of things.
Here are some tips to make the shift, when finding ourselves fixating on the outcomes of our change:
For example, instead of focusing on how difficult it is to eat healthy, especially when in the season of comfort foods (for some of us at least), pay attention to how your body feels with healthier food as its fuel. Notice any changes in energy. Take your curiosity internal instead of focusing on the external deficits you might otherwise dwell on.
Remember, it’s not about the outcome though, it’s about what you do, and how you adapt, along the way.
Target the learning that can be had from having made the mistake, and make sure to highlight those things when discussing it with others. Now you know something you didn’t before. Isn’t that wonderful?
Shifting our perspective.
Some of the biggest challenges we face when adapting to change is because we lose sight of our journey and consider the change event the prize, instead of enjoying the rich learning opportunities along the way.
By consciously shifting our perspective from that of finisher to one of adventurer, we can ignite our curiosity and benefit from the vast richness our journey has to offer. Plus, it makes the art of change much more fun!
Stay tuned for our next post, Adventures In Change.
I have talked a lot in this blog about resisting or accepting change, fast and slow change, abrupt or planned change, as factors contributing to how we react to it. But there hasn’t been much written about ways in which we can make our change fun. That is, until now.
If there is one thing I’ve learned in my many years studying and experiencing change, it’s that they way we think about it determines how successful it is.
It is so easy to get bogged down in the details and drama of change that we sometimes forget that it is possible also have fun with it. So let's change course and set out on a new adventure - making change fun!
Here are some tips for how to bring out the best in our change:
Become a dream weaver.
Where we might be busy planning and preparing for a change, we are also likely anticipating what it will be like.
Anticipation is a great place to begin enjoying our change, and by shifting our perspective into one of fun and enjoyment, we are more likely do dispel those sneaky little fears that try to bubble up and ruin our party.
Dream about your ideal outcome. Create a persona that represents who you are once your change is complete, and practice trying it on. Picture yourself in your new persona having fun with others, laughing, enjoying each other’s company.
Not only do these things help you to experience some feel-good emotions, they also help you to mentally shift your perspective to more closely align with your change.
To learn more about creating personas for change, check out this post.
Uncertainty is another common feature that can try even the most patient amongst us. Why not shift our perspectives from one of waiting, to one of playing? One way to do this is to turn the wait into a game.
Wondering when you’re going to receive a second interview for your dream job? Why not make a friendly wager with friends or family to guess the timing.
Even if you don’t win the jackpot, you’ll have a lot more fun enjoying the wait. Plus, what often transforms into a sense of urgency is quickly shifted into a sense of fun; a much better mindset to have when waiting for the unknown to transpire.
To many possible outcomes to see the future clearly? Make your own personal wheel of fortune and establish values (ice cream cone, a beer, a movie, etc) for the various outcomes. Turn it into a party! This way waiting can be the funnest, instead of the hardest part.
Find the humor.
When stress and high emotions pop in to say hello, put them in their place by finding the humor.
Just about anything can become funny given the right frame of mind. If a movie can be made around TPS reports, we, too, can turn the dull into drollery.
And if we’re looking for the absurdity of it all, we will also be establishing a mindset to be able to laugh at it. So stop complaining and start laughing!
One way to get into the humor mindset is to start collecting jokes, funny words of wisdom, humorous quotes and cartoons before the stressors arrive to the party. I find anything by Gary Larson often does the trick.
These are just a start to the many ways in which we can shift our mindset from one of anxiety or dread to excitement and laughter.
These ideas also help us to shift from obsessing about the outcome of our change to learning to enjoy the process.
So give them a try and please let me know how it works out for you!
Coming up next, Change - The Final Frontier?
When we’re enmeshed in a change, whether it's something we think is a good change or a bad one, it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks, the goals, the timelines, and how the change affects us.
While it might be easier to show our appreciation for a change when it is something we desire, it is easy to become so self-absorbed and focused on the end result of any change, that we forget to remember those things that are good about it. Ways in which our lives are enriched or improved because of it. And those who lend a helping hand along the way.
It is with these things in mind that we’ll focus on ways to appreciate and give thanks during the month of November, in honor of the upcoming U.S. Holiday of Thanksgiving.
What to expect
Some of the specifics are still being worked out, but here are some of the topics you might see:
Change up front.
This month will include two posts per week on Tuesdays and Thursdays in order to focus on ways in which I can improve my online presence, and develop new offerings.
Ideas, questions and comments are welcome as I prepare for the exciting next phase of changevolution and perculcha!
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
All Changevolution Change & Vulnerability Choice & Change Finding Solace Internal/External Change Loop Making Change Stick Mindset Preparing For Change Reactions To Change Reflection Shoulds Smooth Transitions Social Side Of Change Time Tips & Tools Uncertainty
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