If you’re looking for a sign to embrace a change in your life, let this be it!
Going through changes is a natural part of life, but that doesn’t mean we’re always good at creating effective change. If you’re looking for a way to embrace the changes, especially if you’re someone who might struggle with change, this is the guide for you.
In this article, let’s take a look at the change management process, and the ways change management can help you manage a successful change in your life.
Managing change is tough! In fact, there is research that shows us our bodies can perceive change as a threat, triggering the response of anxiety and panic we feel. With our bodies going into fight or flight when changes come our way, it’s no wonder some people have trouble embracing it!
It gets even tougher when that change is unexpected, due to things like bad economic conditions or circumstances outside of your control. In circumstances like these, finding a new way to approach change can be overwhelming.
This is why effective change management can be key in helping you embrace change. Familiarizing yourself with change management, and how it helps, can help you to better manage a change whether it’s a planned change or not.
Ready to embrace the change? Read on below to explore everything you need for successful change management, the best advice for managing change in times of economic uncertainty and unforeseen circumstances, and tips for overcoming change resistance.
Understanding Change Management
Before you can implement a change management strategy that works for you, you need to fully understand what exactly change management is and how it works.
Change management refers to a process where a person uses a set of tools or principles to guide them in their change effort. When approaching change with change management in mind, we are more likely to see our proposed change become a success.
There are many different models and breakdowns for change management out there, all with different approaches. The way you implement change management will vary, depending on if you’re laying out a change in your personal life, or a change that will affect an entire organization.
Regardless, change management works because it looks at how change affects us as people, so we can better move through it. As we touched on above, change can be intimidating and scary. But unfortunately for those out there who are afraid of change, change is a natural part of life.
Whether we want to do it or not, life is going to force us to change sometimes! That’s why change management can be an incredible tool, helping you see change as more of a molehill than a mountain.
The Stages of Change Management
When it comes to making change, it all comes down to taking the correct steps and applying it to your life. Typically, change management can look like this:
Step 1: Understanding Change
Before you can make any kind of change, you need to understand what kind of change you are trying to make. You need to sit down and ask yourself some tough questions, including:
- What kind of change are you hoping to make? Why do you need to make it? (Ex. Is it a career change? A lifestyle change? A structural change?)
- What are the benefits of making this change?
- What are the negative consequences of making the change?
- What are the negative consequences of not making the change?
- What kind of impact will this change have? (Ie/ Will it affect just you? Your family? Your friends? Your employees? Your organization?)
- What steps will you need to take to make this change initiative a successful one?
Think of asking yourself these questions like a brainstorming stage.
When making any kind of transformational change, you’re not going to want to go into it impulsively. Taking the time to think through making a change can help you learn more about why you’re doing it and the barriers you’re up against. With this in mind, we can embrace change with more intention, and hopefully avoid potential mistakes.
Understand the landscape, both internal and external, and both the desire for and resistance to change.
Step 2: Planning Change
Now that you know the kind of strategic change you want to make, it’s time to plan it out.
This is the phase in organizational change management where a corporate leader would draft out an effective roll-out plan. In our personal lives, though, this is the time when we can build a better picture of the change we want to make, and actual steps to take to make it happen.
Planning change can look like this:
- Finding Support: Leading change, whether personal or professional, starts with support. Begin by finding out who will support you in this change. This could look like a partner being supportive, or even a whole household, who are down to make this change a reality.
- Building a Plan: Once you have the support you need it’s planning time. When trying to work out your change process, you need to break it down into actual steps you can accomplish. This can look like a to-do list, making a timeline of tasks, building a budget… it all depends on the change you’re making.
Step 3: Implementing Change
Now that you’ve decided to make the change, and have planned out how to do it, it’s time to make things happen.
This is the part of managing change where communication becomes key, as you begin the hard work of making change actually happen. Again, the way you go about leading change in your life will depend on the nature of your situation. Managing organizational change will have a much different rollout than implementing personal changes.
Despite the differences, there are some tips to keep in mind when implementing change that applies to any kind of change process. These include:
- Communicate changes to any parties involved in this life change so they understand what the change is, and why it needs to happen
- Make sure any key stakeholders involved in your change know it is happening, and what their level of involvement is if they have one
- Create habitual changes, or changes in behavior, that align with your change
- Identify a marker for success, that will show when the change has succeeded
Step 4: Reviewing Change
Once you’ve started a change process and rolled it out into your life, the final step in change management is reviewing the process and determining your level of success. Whether your change has succeeded or failed, this is the phase where we can reflect on what’s happened.
Effective communication is key here from all parties involved, as we reflect on why a change may or may not have worked. Was a lack of successful change an issue of leadership? A lack of commitment to behavior changes? Poor communication that made the change confusing? Or, alternatively, did the change succeed? Is there evidence of the ways a life change has benefited your life for the good? Are there further changes you should make to make things even better?
When we get honest about the ways we’ve succeeded, or failed, we can approach change with better ideas in mind when we try again. Remember, change is a process, and through it, we can grow!
Managing Change in a Tough Economy
Sometime in life, you’ll be faced with significant changes outside of your control. A tough economy is one such instance.
Going through tough financial times can lead to rapid changes, and difficulties implementing them. A lack of funds can lead to a lack of resources, leaving you without the usual support to make the changes you needed to make.
In situations like this, change management and strategic planning can be crucial. By having an idea of how to approach and manage change, navigating these tough circumstances can become much easier.
Tips for Changing with Tight Finances
If you’re trying to navigate change in economic hardship, keep the following in mind.
- Make a budget. This can help you build a clearer picture of your economic situation and the financial resources you have to work with.
- Set realistic goals. In hard economic times, goals need to be set realistically. Become brutally honest about the places where you might be losing money and the places you can save it.
- Be patient. Remember, what comes up must come down. Bad economies can recover, but you’ll need to acknowledge the time it takes for that turnaround to happen.
Managing Change Under Unforeseen Circumstances
There are plenty of unforeseen circumstances that happen in life that will leave you scrambling to pivot. Things like an accident, a job lay off, or even a sudden loss can leave you reeling and needing to make a sudden change, fast.
Circumstances for both individuals and organizations can change in an instant. It’s one of the reasons understanding change management can be so important. By better understanding change and being brave enough to embrace it, you can be better prepared when abrupt changes surprise you.
Tips for Changing in Unforeseen Circumstances
If you find yourself dealing with unforeseen circumstances, here are some strategies you can take.
- Keep Calm: The most important thing you can do in circumstances like these is to stay calm. It’s natural to get overwhelmed, but a clear head is needed to make good choices.
- Communicate: When dealing with an abrupt change, good communication is a necessity. Anyone who needs to know about the changes happening needs to know what change is happening and why, any actions you’re taking, and anything you need from them in the process.
- Be Flexible: Managing change in unforeseen circumstances means you won’t have time for a detailed planning phase. You may need to pivot and change on the fly, meaning flexibility should be embraced.
Overcoming Resistance to Change
So what happens if you’re the kind of person who is resistant to change?
Change is a constant part of life, so whether you want to or not, it’s something you’ll need to learn to embrace. For many folks, resisting life’s changes can come from a place of fear, stress, anxiety, or uncertainty.
In fact, Columbia University has actually narrowed down our resistance to change to three likely culprits. These are:
- Unfortunately, our brains are predisposed to be lazy! Sometimes we resist change, because it would make an easy process a harder one.
- Limited Capacity. Another reason we don’t love change is that our brains struggle to keep up with it. Your brain can only do so much in a day, and sometimes a sudden or new change can be too much for the brain to handle.
- Brains Hate Change. Another reason why we don’t change is simply because our brains don’t like it. As I touched on, change can make us anxious or even trigger stress responses. Naturally, when faced with this, our brain wants to protect itself by rejecting the change causing stress.
It’s important for those who are resistant to change to find the support they need to address it. As we said above, you won’t get through life without making a few changes. With the right support, making a life change can transform from a painful process to an empowering one.
Overcoming Resistance to Change
If you are change resistant, here are some tips to help you turn it around.
- Reframe Change: This one is the hardest but most important tip on this list. If you want to overcome resisting change, you need to change how you think about it! Try to reframe your life change, turning a negative into a positive and making it exciting instead of daunting. Remind yourself why you’re changing and the benefits of doing it to get excited.
- Take It Slow: For some, change is a thing to resist because we think it’s going to be hard. To change this line of thinking, remember that change is a process that can be broken down into small steps. Transforming a big task into a series of small ones can make change easier to approach.
- Find Support: Finally, finding support can be key in helping to make change happen. You might think I’m only talking about providing support for those affected by the changes being made (which you should still do!), but I’m talking about finding support for Change is hard, and it’s even harder when we do it alone. A support system can make a huge difference in implementing change.
Changing for the Better
Change is unpredictable and can come when we least expect it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still employ strategies to better prepare us for it. I encourage all readers to try embracing change management as a process, implementing it when you make your own life changes.
With change management, we can effectively embrace change by understanding, planning, and implementing our changes, and reviewing what worked once we meet (or fail to meet) our desired outcomes.
Change management can also help you navigate the harder kinds of change in life, like changes due to a bad economy or other unforeseen circumstances. Ultimately, change management is what works to inspire people to embrace change even when resistant.
We hope the tips in this guide can help you embrace the changes that come up in your own life, recognizing them as an opportunity for growth. You may find that throughout the process, the idea of changing transforms from an anxiety-inducing thought, to an exciting one!
As a life coach, I am dedicated to helping my clients embrace all life’s changes, feeling empowered as they embrace them. If you’d like to learn more, click here to book an introductory session today.