10 Tips to Handle Change

We all have to deal with change whether we like it or not. Yesterday, I posted HERE how I have some impending changes coming up that I'm not excited about. If you need to deal with an unexpected change (job loss, medical illness), or even a conscious decision to change (to lose weight, or quit watching TV) these steps will help you through the process.
  1. Be Prepared – If you're losing your job or losing your home, you probably have some idea that change is happening. Use this time to update your resume, or save that extra money, cut down on unnecessary expenses and put off future travel or large purchase plans. People may call you lucky if you are prepared for this change, but really it was your preparedness meeting opportunity. Wouldn't it be great if you got a new job, or sold your home before you lost it? Likewise, if you are making a conscious decision to change by going on a diet or quitting smoking – it helps to be prepared. This could involve rearranging your cupboards and donating all fattening snacks and foods that will sabotage your diet efforts. If you want to quit watching TV, disconnect it and move it out of the room. If you want to quit smoking, get some substitute to satisfy your oral and tactile senses – like gum, a toothpick to chew on, or a fake cigarette to hold..
  2. Find Your Purpose – One of the first things to do when you are faced with change is to consider your alternatives. Figure out why you do what you do. What is the motivation behind your job? Or where you live? Why will you tolerate the change? Do you have to? Do the benefits of accepting the change outweigh other options? For example, I work for the State at a lower pay because I think its worth more vacation time, flexible work hours and I thought job security.
If the change has been forced on you, figure out your best choices and follow through with a plan that meets your goals in life. If you are told by your Dr. to quit smoking, consider all the cost savings and health benefits. If you want to lose weight, pull out some old clothes you outgrew when you gained weight and make it your goal to fit in them again.
  1. Seek To Understand – what will the new change mean? Find out where the official rules or policy are that govern your new situation. What exactly do you have to change to comply? If its important, find out why the situation happened so you can avoid having it happen again. If the situation is within your control, educate yourself so you can prevent it from happening again. Remove yourself from the temptation if your change is a result of lack of self control – spending too much money, smoking cigarettes, and eating too much food can easily be stopped with will power. Try to understand what triggers or root causes you are having trouble with, and seek to overcome them.
  2. Find Support from others in the same situation – If you can't do it all by yourself, get together with others who will understand your dilemma. Either in person, or in online forums you can find a support system to share ideas, solutions, struggles and situations. Hopefully, this will make you realize its not that bad and others have overcome greater obstacles and you can too. Others will have tips and experiences on how they successfully handled the new situation. It will be motivating to hear success stories of how people got out of debt, or quit smoking, or lost weight or got a new job.
  3. Let Go – Once the change is taking place, break the attachment to the previous situation. Quit putting yourself in the situation where you crave what used to be - its over. Change your routine so you don't miss the past routine. And most important, quit complaining about the change. Now. Put it out of your head and move on.
  4. Acceptance – This is an important step in the process, acceptance. Remember you can only control yourself. It is your attitude that will determine how the changed situation will affect you. Try to be like a duck in water, and let it slide off your back. If you are struggling with a diet or quitting watching TV, playing games on the internet or quitting smoking – you are in charge to convince yourself that you just can't do that anymore. Remember the SEED of Change (Sleep, Eat well, Exercise and Drink water) to help you stay strong during this time of acceptance.
  5. Look for the Good – Soon you will have realized that this is the way its going to be now. This is the time to find the silver lining, or the good things about the change. Is your health better? Do you have more money in your pocket? Have you improved your time management skills? Have you learned new skills in your efforts to adapt? Think back and determine what is better now that things have changed, do you have more choices? I'm betting the answer is yes to a lot of these points.
  6. Find Your Peace – One important thing is to take time and find your spiritual strength through this change whether it is through meditation, prayer, nature walks, solitary time, exercise, religion or other peaceful activity. This time of reflection is where you can strengthen your will power and convince yourself you're on the right path. Clear the clutter from your mind and find peace in your new situation.
  7. Be Active – Do not stagnate, do something to deal with the new situation so it gets better. If you lost your job, find ANY job to keep busy. I'm lucky to have two part time gigs doing guest services for concert and sporting events. While the pay is poor, it is income and something to do. If I'm denied using my coupons at one store, I'll try shopping at a competitor to see if the process is easier. Fortunately, more stores are accepting competitor coupons so there are more choices to shop. If you crave a cigarette or a twinkie, get away and walk a bit to get your energy up. If you want to less screen time (PC or TV), pick up a book to read, or listen to a radio talk show, or better yet – engage in a social activity with others.
  8. Help Others deal with the Change too – Once you have successfully mastered the change and adopted to embrace it as part of your life, its important to share your experiences with others who would benefit from your learning. Share it online, twitter, facebook, in a blog, in a meeting or at the park or grocery store. Let others see how you have successfully dealt with what you once thought was a terrible turn of events in your life. Offer solutions if sought, ideas, tips and encouragement to others who are struggling with the same change.

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