Change – It’s a risky business!

The topic of change is a very big one and very pertinent in the present challenging times. However as they say, “the only constant in life is change”. Therefore we all have to prepare for change personally and professionally throughout our lives.

Fear of the change itself; either success or failure can paralyse us so we no longer take healthy risks. However we can help ourselves by considering the question...

What are you scared of?

We can then prepare for change so that we are not steamrollered by it. We can’t avoid having the rug pulled out from under us sometimes – that wouldn’t be real life – but we can learn to dance on a shifting carpet!

Typically there are six main fears around change and risk:

  • Failure – we might not get what we are aiming for, but we haven’t got it now so why should we fear failure? If we don’t try we can’ t succeed.
  • Exposure – if it doesn’t come off, it might reflect on our abilities. We get confused between the failure of something we try to do and being a failure ourselves. One certain way to fail is not to try.
  • Embarrassment – if we push something through and it doesn’t work we might feel others are judging us. An emotionally unintelligent way to solve this is to keep things the same but feel sorry for ourselves.
  • Conflict – if others don’t share our opinion on something, it may feel as though they are hostile to us. The emotionally unintelligent give hostility in return. They waste valuable opportunities to share views.
  • Rejection – if risks go haywire, could you lose friendships or even your job? People often think this is likely to happen without thinking about the actual people involved. It is better to talk things through than fear the worst.
  • Loss – any change means loss. The familiar may have disadvantages but being with what you know creates a comfort zone. To progress we have to be willing to walk outside of the comfort zones.

When you are faced with challenge and uncertainty remember:

You usually have several choices, one of which is to leave things exactly as they are. This might mean taking a risk; for example not going to the doctor about something that is worrying you. Doing nothing is a decision to do nothing.

Other choices involve making plans, including finding out what’s needed, taking steps to fulfil those needs and moving towards the decided goals. There will be other choices before the goal is achieved, which will bring new discoveries and new ideas. Other people may be involved and be part of the goal seeking process.

Remember any personal changes you make will usually involve:

Loss: Changing in any way involves losing something of the self. It is almost as if you periodically have to attend your own funeral to say goodbye to certain aspects of yourself.

Fear: This comes from the supposed negative aspects of the change.

Dilemma: This is the ambivalence of not knowing whether the pros and cons are more important.

Gain: This is the benefit from going forward with the change.

 You can prepare yourself for change by:

  • Thinking about the worst possible result. How would you deal with that?
  • Talking to people who have done something similar.
  • Thinking of dilemmas as choices rather than problems.
  • Running a pilot before you do the real thing if you can.
  • Recognising your emotional reactions – don’t pretend you are purely a logical human being.
  • Expecting to succeed. Optimistic people succeed more often because they don’t see setbacks as decisive and keep trying.
  • Remembering that no risk = no change= stagnation.

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