Adapting To Change
Change or Stagnate and Die!
Adapting to change is a challenge for most people. The challenge gets even more dire when the change is unforeseen, such the death of a loved one or as we've seen in our economy with cooperate downsizing, job loss and the impact on the family. We usually do not grapple with the positive results of change. On the other hand, we often wallow in the negative impact or perceived negative outcome of change. We acknowledge that change is inevitable, but handling the change of circumstances, such as the death of a loved one or going through a divorce, is not easy to accept and can be downright devastating. We simmer in the pain; some people grieve for a short time, others grieve for prolong periods and others for a life time. The loss in these instances is often devastating and yet we have seen many examples of the resilience of the human psychic. We know that this too will pass and we move on, growing in the process. For many of us, the changes that we experience in our lives are incremental and to some extent predictable; we see the train wreck coming from ten miles away. What do we do? We either jump into action or we stand transfixed and watch the crash happen right in front of our eyes.
It is an accepted fact that the world of 2010 is dramatically different from the world of five decades ago. We have experienced mammoth leaps in technological advancement, medicine, scientific research and explorations. Many of our personal philosophies have changed and evolved over the years; we consider ourselves a part of the global tribe; we care more about the environment than we did five decades ago. We've seen apartheid eradicated from some parts of the world; while other countries have and continue to experience genocide. Religiosity has changed and evolved; spirituality involve more than our personal relationship with the Supreme Being but also our responsibility to the rest of humanity. Even though the separation of state and church has brought more emphasis on the secular world as it relates to our government, we've seen that religion continues to play a somewhat major role in governance. While our early predecessors explained unusual occurrences as acts of God, we seek more scientific explanations for major atmospheric occurrences. Human beings have conquered and dominated the world and beyond; space explorations are becoming as common as flying to another part of the world. History has been preserved and challenged; from the four minute mile to travelling supersonic. We have surpassed the records of the previous generations and surged ahead to establish new expectations and goals. We are always changing and evolving.
So why are we so bothered by change? If we accept the notion that change is inevitable or subscribe to the "change or die" mentality, then, why do we resist changes? The answer is not easy; we all struggle with change. We have a tendency to ponder the future; so we worry if it looks bleak or if we may not be able to see the clearly down the road. Even though some of us have experienced many changes in our lifetime, we are still flabbergasted by some of the perceived negative results of change. Some of these worries are only figment of our imagination and over time, and with open minds and some sweat equity, we'll begin to see that they are mostly positive consequences; forcing us to grow. While we are in the eye of the change, we might not see anything positive about it. However, if we realize that change is necessary for the human species to evolve, then we might not worry so much. Over time we will learn to cope more effectively with the consequences of change, but some changes will remain troublesome. The death of a loved one will always stir up much pain and hurt. There is no easy way to cope with the passing of a loved one. We should feel the pain and over time release it.
This leads me to the next question: How does one handle/cope with changes outside of your control? How do you cope with the loss of a loved one, job loss, a divorce, loss of a home, or ill health as in a life-threatening diagnosis? Since some loss or changes are outside our control, does that mean that we are powerless? While we can be proactive and take steps to secure our job, our marriage or our property, the death of loved one is often outside of our control. When a loved one dies, we cannot undo the situation. The first step in handling this type of change is to accept that it has happened. Since we have no way of going back in time and changing the current situation, then we must accept that our circumstances have changed. Yes, it is challenging to move speedily from pain and anger to take action. Being in denial will keep us stuck. Accepting a devastating loss is hard, but in order for self preservation and to continue to live and thrive, it is necessary to surrender to the now. Feeling vulnerable does not have to render us powerless. We can find strength in the memories of a loved one. Many organizations, such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) were founded by grieving mothers to change public awareness and legislation on drunk driving, hence saving lives. The founders of such groups have channelled their pain and anger into effective ways changing the status quo. Not everyone will accomplish what MADD has done over the last three decades. So what can we do? We can accept the situation; negative and positive result. Take stock of our options; not everyone will be able form an organization or make public presentations about their loss. Those who seek the more private route to find healing can look to trusted friends, family members, clergy or professional (therapists, financial experts, medical advisers) to help us find solutions and also come to terms with the change. Individually we have to weigh each option and research each resulting consequences; what is the opportunity/cost? Will I grow or die from this option? After serious consideration, make a decision and be open to amend your decision if necessary or start the process to healing and recovery all over again and again until we find the right combination for our self.
Job loss or divorce. While these life's changes are fairly common in today's world; our failing global economy and the more than 50% divorce rate in North America, they are major life changes with dire consequences. They can be the source of much frustration, devastation and destitution. It can take more than six months to find employment during an economy of low unemployment. In the present economy, it would perhaps take two to three times longer to find work. The job loss is most devastating if both spouses lose their job or if the main earner loses his/her job. Even if Employment Insurance is available, covering the cost of mortgage, car payment, education costs for children and health insurance costs (loss of group coverage from work) will definitely put a financial strain on the family. Even with a strong and secure marriage, cracks can gradually develop in the relationship. What are some immediate steps that can be taken? Working together as a family to survive challenging times can be hard work, but is doable. Take stock of budget; determine needs and wants. What expenditures can be reduce or cut out all together? Should we cut back on eating out? How about reducing phone and cable bills? What of requesting lower interest rate on credit cards or mortgage? Does it make sense to sell the 4,000 square feet dream home and purchase a smaller one? What about getting rid of luxury items, such as boats, additional cars or other expensive gadgets? No one likes to downsize his/her life style. We feel that we have earned our lifestyle through hard work; we've contributed and paid our dues, so why should we scale back. Consider the consequences of doing nothing; everything could be lost, including our most precious relationships. By taking actions early, we can prevent spiralling debts and the abyss of financial ruin; we might even save our significant relationships.
Loosing a job might be an opportunity to consider starting a business. Consider some goods or service that is lacking and find a way to provide it. Many successful companies were started in hard times to find solutions and meet a need. Hewlett Packard was started during the great depression in 1939; Revlon, GE, CNN and Fedex were companies that started during recessionary times. It takes one great idea and tireless efforts to create a great company that could be a success story. So, where is the start up capital going to come from? Consider that HP started from a $538 investment, and today the company produces earnings of over $100 million.
Divorce can wreak havoc on everyone involved, but women and children are most affected in many of the cases as many women end up financially worst off. Financial ruin is not mutual exclusive to men as some men have seen rock bottom as a result as a change in their marital status. Going through a divorce does not have to totally wipe out anyone experiencing such a change. Some women have found their mojo after going through a divorce; they quickly learn to become independent in every sense of the word, including becoming wealthy and savvy business women. Divorce does not have to mean the end but a new beginning for both men and women. It can mean a time to explore new careers and launch new adventures. According to Savvy Divorced Chicks, reviewing your goals help to keep you focused on the steps you need to take toward achieving them. They suggest that you may feel challenged, stepping out of your comfort zone, but that means that you are growing and getting closer to achieve what you set out to. So get out that positive mental attitude, put it to work. Working with an employment/business coach can be a great investment in the future. The world is waiting for the next innovative idea. There are businesses to be started.
Adapting to change demands some insight, courage and resilience; if we look deep inside we'll find these characters. When it come to surviving change, the choices are very limited; adapt and grow or stagnate and die.
Stay tune for Incremental Changes within Appropriate Timeline.