It never ceases to amaze me quite how much some people can adapt and flex to change more easily than others. Some of us take a while to consider new things and take new challenges on board. Often wanting to know the full in’s and outs of something before we even step foot onto the ladder of change. Whilst others are happy to step off into the unknown horizon in some way hoping that there will be some excitement along the way.
This can happen in any walk of life and at any time of life. Indeed it can be as difficult to change when you are a child for example, first day at nursery school or going on to big school, as during your career years – hoping for that new job in that new town. Or becoming a parent for the first time and learning to juggle the demands of work and home life. Even at the end of your career, when you really should be wanting to step down and let others take the job on instead so that you can go travel the world or put your feet up.
So what is it that makes change easier for some than others? Is it our DNA, our conditioning of our early years parental raising. Do some of us from secure backgrounds find it easier or hard than those who have had to travel half way across the world to make a new life in a new country for example.
Well sometimes it does help to understand the stages of going through change. The well known fisher curve created by J M Fisher can explain a lot. I often use it in coaching situations when people want careers advice or help in dealing with a new boss. Or perhaps with a team that has just been given a completely new mission or joined up with a newly formed department. The fisher curve explains that at first we often begin with shock, “can this really be happening” and often see it as a threat “why is this happening to me – what did I do wrong?”. Some on the other hand might be relieved something is changing. The first questions are often sense making seeking evidence for the change.
Then as time goes on we start to have choices about whether we want to accept the change or not. Some people may embrace it at this time, others might find that they are stuck in denial not wanting to rock the boat or change the status quo.
In situations where I have coached people who have been going through a redundancy its a very different picture depending on whether I am talking with the people who have been chosen to stay or leave. If its voluntary then some may be delighted as it might give them a new start in life, but those that are left behind can sometimes feel guilty and take on ‘survivor syndrome’ which means they are left to do the work of those that have left.
Whatever happens in the end people usually get through the change, although it can take many years. Bereavement for example, can come like waves never all at once, as people are reminded often of the people they have lost, especially on the anniversary or birthday of that loved one. The sense of loss is huge and it takes time and work to get over loosing a loved one. Sometimes new change can bring back old grieving and it takes a while for people to realise that.
So next time you are feeling yourself stuck with not wanting to accept change think back to all the things that you have changed in your life to date and you will be surprised by what a list you have. Some big and some quite small but all add up to big changes in the end.
Hopefully eventually you will be able to see yourself in the future.