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How to deal with big changes in your life

Have you ever wondered why some people thrive through change and others paralyze?

The difference is in the belief we have about change. If we focus on the difficulties that change brings with it, we get to belong to the group that feels negatively about change. I we look at change with excitement, as an opportunity to create a better you, you will belong to the group that holds change in a positive light.

A theory of change.

There is plenty of evidence that we all go through more or less the same process when dealing with change, although particular stages may take rather longer in some cases than others.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross looked at the way people come to terms with the news that they have a terminal illness, and developed a model called the Transition or Change Curve. Later studies showed that people react in similar ways to bereavement and also to changes at work.

The model shows that people start in a state of denial, with quite high levels of energy and confidence, but that confidence and energy then dip as they feel the need for support, and then become angry, asking questions like ‘Why me?’. They then start to move towards exploration of their condition and new options, and into acceptance.

How can we manage change?

Inc. magazine has 5 tremendous tips for changes at work that can extrapolate to changes in life.

1. Set the Expectation that Change is Inevitable

Oftentimes when a change turns into a disaster, it's because unspoken expectations. If you have fallen into the trap of assuming you live in a stable and comfortable environment, where you always live at the same place, next to the same neighbors, in same state of health, forever and always, you may feel blindsided and betrayed when your world is altered.

You can understand that the primary principle of life is that change is inevitable. If you start perceiving change as a fact of life, when a major shift happens, you’ll be more likely to accept it as a matter of course.

To get used to change, you could change your patterns of behaviors on a daily bases. If you always get your coffee at the same place or at the same time, and experience the magic of change.

2. Understand the "How Will it Affect Me?" Principle

Whether your change is positive or negative, everyone go straight to, "How will this affect me? Will it make my life more difficult? Will it cost me more? Will I be happier? Will I be prepared to handle it?"

Accept the fact that any time there can be a major development --positive or not--there will be events is life that will require us to adapt to a new paradigm, environment, political party or leadership team. Your first message should not be, "Here's what's happening, and here's what you should think about it." This approach will only create additional resistance.

Instead, look at the change through the eyes of a child, and give it a chance to see how it will really affect you. Try, "Here's what's happening, and we will have questions. Let's wait and see.”

3. Never Package a Negative Change as a Positive One

We don’t have to accept all changes as positive; sometimes we have to fight it and make it the best possible for everyone involved.

As appropriate, you can also outline your plan for forward growth, the measures you've put in place to avoid this happening again, and other details that will give you more hope for the future.

4. Embrace the Change Cycle

When it comes to change management, there's no one-size-fits-all solution, and there's no predictable timeline for when everyone will be enthusiastically on board. Each person will proceed at his or her own pace through the change cycle, which starts with feelings of loss, then doubt, then discomfort, followed by discovery, understanding, and finally integration.

Allow yourself to voice your concerns, ask questions, and think about next steps. Seek first to understand, then to be understood and make forward progress through the change cycle.

5. Watch Out for the Negativity

There will always be others seeing change in a negative light, given people ample time to work through their reactions, but don’t’ deviate from the final goal of making the best out of the change. Try to befriend those with positive outlook; notice those with resistance or negativity, it could affect you negatively.

Remember to be patient, collect the facts, and choose what is best for you. As in The Chinese vocabulary, two brush strokes are used to write the word 'crisis' and one brush stroke stands ‘opportunity’; whenever a door closes, another door full with opportunities opens up.

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