Constant Change: An Oxymoron for the Ages
The one constant that we can always depend on is change. Change in the weather. Change of the day into night. Change in the way we get older. Change in how we see ourselves after a long and arduous career. Since change is almost a part of our very fabric as human beings, why do we dislike change so much? At the other end of the spectrum of change is a physiological and psychological feeling of safety that we get from consistency and routine. We love routine because we know what to expect and everything is in our control. Now enter change… Change can either hit us over the head like a side of bricks or can be the welcome breath of fresh air that we need. Either way, you are the one who chooses how you will be affected by change. It’s that simple.
Change as Challenge
When we see change as a challenge, we are more likely to overcome it and dominate it. Even enjoy it. Whenever something happens that causes you to deviate from your normal trajectory, embrace the change and either solve the issue or change the way you see the change. Seeing the change as something to overcome drives us into a position of proaction instead of reaction. I remember when my life changed the day my father died. I was 19 and had my life ahead of me. I was in the Navy Reserve as an Officer in college and living in San Diego at the time; my father died in Massachusetts. When I returned to San Diego after the funeral, my Officer in Charge asked me whether I was going to stay in the Navy and finish school. I remember the feeling of pure loneliness and emptiness that I felt without my father there to offer moral support. Obviously, this was a life changing experience for me. My response was that I was 100% going to stay and finish school and join the Navy, my father would not have wanted anything else. Change has a way of forcing us to either stay the course, improve the course, or quit the course altogether. Again, you make the choice; change does not have that much power.
Change the way you look at Change
A play on words, I know. But truly think about this sentence. Changing the way you look at change from a position of fear to a position of challenge puts the control back into your court. You become the master of your own destiny. That’s not to say that you will not be sad, angry, scared, and even depressed at times. This is normal. But change should not get the best of you. You should stare change squarely in the eye and say, “You are mine. Let’s rock!” Put change at the top of your list and take your brain on a new adventure. Studies have shown that as we get older, our brain’s dopamine receptors start to deteriorate. When things don’t go as planned, and we willfully adapt to the change with energy and a positive attitude, learning new things along the way, our brains stay younger instead of being “set in their ways.” Think about that the next time you think that you are too old to learn something new or something interrupts your routine.
This week, I want you to seek out change. Write down the things that you really like to do on a daily basis and change the way you do them. Even something as simple as making cereal (most people pour the cereal first and then the milk). Try pouring the milk first (make sure you leave room for the cereal) and then pour the cereal in. This may not seem like much, but throughout the day, start to apply this simple change principle to other routine activities. Take a different route to work, start with the end of your to do list and work backwards, etc. Your brain will be forced into a change position that will help you to adapt to other situations that may come along that are different than expected. One of the best ways to really have fun with this exercise is to put individuals to perform various skits that they have to make up as they go, based on certain initiating themes. Based on the concept of improv, these programs are actually set up as therapy (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15401383.2016.1182880?journalCode=wcmh20)
Perhaps set aside 10 minutes with your team and initiate a mini session using the improv techniques and see how you feel afterwards. The bottom line is that can resist change or accept and thrive in it. The change is going to occur no matter what you decide to do.
“Lean into it!”