Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Time for Change: Thriving Under Sudden Change

This series on change has addressed ways of planning and implementing a change in a way that assumes something gradual and within your control, but change doesn’t always work that way. Every day, people deal with the sudden and unexpected. It could be the loss of a loved one, being laid off, losing an important relationship or enduring another tantrum from an ignorant boss when he doesn’t get his way.


The grief cycle has stages you must pass through to successfully cope with a loss. There is a similar process for managing sudden change. Steering through it successfully helps you regain control of your life. Although uncomfortable, it can help you transform even the most painful change into something positive.


Here’s how to navigate the jarring feelings, thoughts and behaviors associated with a sudden change into something positive.


  1. Identify the biggest change that you are currently experiencing or are most concerned over.

  2. List several losses that you believe this would create for you.

  3. From that list, pick the one loss that is most uncomfortable for you and explore why you believe that. This uncovers the real concern that you need to address.

  4. Determine where you fall in the following paradigm and make an action to move to the next phase. Your goal is to spend more time feeling anticipation, productive and satisfied.



Paralyzed Phase - When you act paralyzed it’s because you have feelings of fear. You’re cautious because you feel a loss of safety. Whether you perceive the change to be good or bad, there is still a sense of loss of what was.


Resistant Phase - If you are resistant to this change it’s because you feel resentment. You’re skeptical because you’re choosing to doubt the reality of the situation. Since you doubt the validity of facts and second guess yourself, blame begins to cloud your thinking.


Unproductive Phase - If you are unproductive and feel anxious, it’s because the reality of the change has become clearer to you, even though you may still not like it. You are confused, frustrated, and your motivation is lethargic. This is a crucial place to either make a decision or continue to stagnate. Continuing to be fearful forms a spiral of resentment and anxiety which becomes harder and harder to break free from. However, if you decide to be open to discovering the possibilities that the change could represent you will replace anxiety with anticipation.


Anticipation Phase - Feeling anticipation energizes you and helps you become creative in your thinking. By making decisions, you regain some control and build hope and optimism, because you’re reminded that you have choices.


Productive Phase - Productivity grows your confidence. Pragmatic, you understand the change, are actively involved in it and can acknowledge some of the benefits of it.


Satisfaction Phase - Generous with a feeling of satisfaction because you’ve regained focused thinking and the ability and willingness to be flexible. The change is no longer something different, because it’s integrated into your routine.


Change has always been a part of the human experience. Today, it’s an accelerant. Most things are not slowing down. The ability to effectively manage change, both from a leadership and followership position will determine if you enjoy the ride of your life, or stay perpetually curled up in a ball with motion sickness.

Miss any in this series?
Vision and Anticipation
Testing and Building Support
5 Elements of Successful Change