A few years ago, I worked for an organization that was going through some major changes. At the time, they were moving from their present building to another facility. Countless meetings were held to discuss the changes and allow people to share their concerns. At some point, I made an observation that all the discussions weren’t helping the situation. The majority of individuals were not moving forward on the idea of working in a new location. In fact, they were only digging their heels in even more.
I found this fascinating as it all played out. Being from a Mental Health background, it was interesting to watch the process unfold and observe the different reactions and objections from the various people. I’m sure you can relate to at least one time in your own life where you fought change desperately.
But why do we do this?
Well, I have a question for you to answer. Do you by chance eat the same thing for breakfast every morning? Do you go the same way to work every day? Chances are pretty good that the answer to these questions is a yes. As humans, we seem to revel in habits. Habits make our life easier and saner. We like the security of knowing that every step in life doesn’t involve another decision— this can tax our brain, taking more energy and focus. Life can sometimes feel like a whirlwind and frankly, it’s easier if we know what to expect and are able to function on autopilot.
Nevertheless, change is part of life and inevitable. No matter what you do to avoid change, it will catch up with you eventually. Your ability to adapt and go with the flow of life will be the key to you finding the success and happiness you so desire. In lieu of this fact, here are two questions to ask the next time you feel yourself fighting change in the workplace:
What is it that I really fear about this change?
I’m asking you to dig deep on this one because your initial objections might not be what’s really bothering you. The answer might be hidden deep down. Are you fearful that you won’t be able to succeed in this situation? Are you scared of how this new change will add work to your life? Do you have difficulty finding acceptance in many phases of your life? Are you someone that gets stuck and can’t move on? Be honest and do some real soul searching.
How specifically will this change affect me?
I want you to break it down and attempt to make a list of the positives and negatives in the change. Often, you can get stuck on the idea and not realize that the change won’t affect you nearly as much as you think. After you have made your list, I want you to look at each negative that you wrote down and find a way that you can somehow substitute for this loss that you are experiencing. Find some angle to make this change more palatable. For example, let’s say you are losing your 4-walled office and moving to a bright, fabulous new office with open workspace. You are terrified of this and grieve losing your own space. Look at ways you can replace the loss within the confines off this new change. What if you asked to work from home one day a week? What if you reserve the conference room for a couple hours a week to have your privacy? There are options here that you can explore which substitute your perceived loss.
I believe Socrates said it best when he wrote, “The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”