How do you know when it’s the right time to make a change? What can we do to make it as smooth as possible and to ensure that the change achieves what it’s meant to do?
Some level of change is a constant in anyone’s life. Just think of the weather. But clearly, there are many variations on this theme. Let’s consider just a few examples:
- Some have difficulty with change beyond their control. For example, this could be a reorganization at work that puts them in a different department or doing a different task. If you live with chronic health problems, out of control change is a constant factor in your life. Others move with the change they can’t control smoothly because they’re comfortable not being the initiator.
- Some have difficulty initiating change and are more comfortable when it happens to them. For instance, they might not even realize it but they prefer to be fired from a job rather than to initiate leaving by quitting. Or they might choose to be miserable in an apartment rather than learn to adjust to living in a new place. Others can’t bear not taking action when something feels difficult.
- Some find that a change to daily routine can be disruptive. For some, finding that their favorite morning coffee shop is closed, requiring they go somewhere else for their cuppa java, can be mind bending. Others seek at new places daily because it adds zest to their lives.
- Some seek big change and resist the small changes depending on their life situation. For some moving across country when they are 25 years old is easier than making a decision about changing the length of their hair. That same person, years later, tired of her home of 30 years, might find that moving the furniture creates sufficient sense of change rather than buying a new house.
Get the picture? Even at the starting point, where the idea emerges, each of us responds differently. For most, the very idea of change can bring an emotional charge, positive and/or negative.
I wonder about this frequently because the desire for some type of change is one of the primary reasons that people contact me for coaching. I’ve found, however, that it’s not enough to merely for a person to want to change something to make it happen.
Effective change, the kind that achieves what you seek, requires clarity. It starts with recognizing the real source of dissatisfaction that is creating this need. Then it takes a sufficient level of motivation (which varies depending on the degree of change required) to do what it takes to make the change.
I’ve wondered and played with this idea as I work with different people around varying situations. The question as I see it is:
What information and insight allows a person to approach the idea of change with as much clarity as possible? And what would that clarity actually mean to the end result?
When this issue came up recently in several coaching calls, I created an ‘assignment’ ( the project work that clients work on between calls that supports what we’ve been discussing).
When you find yourself thinking,
- I need to leave this …. or
- I need a new … or
- This …. has to be different
try this exercise.
Ask yourself the following 6 Questions and write down each answer.
- What do I believe is creating my dissatisfaction with the status quo? (Describe)
- What would this look situation ‘look’ like and/or feel like to me if it were different? (Describe)
- What would specifically have to change for me to experience satisfaction? (List and/or describe)
- What would improve from this change? (List and describe)
- What options do I have in creating the change or changes that I seek? (List and describe)
- What am I willing to give up to achieve these changes? (List)
Use these 6 questions to achieve the clarity you need to create effective action. They can apply to any setting and they’re not just useful to situations in which a chronic health condition is a factor. But the issues that come up around wanting change and making it happen are even more complicated when you have health challenges, primarily because you feel more vulnerable and less resilient. Getting very clear is a wise first step for anyone.
I’m sharing this exercise specifically to get your feedback. I’m revising my workbook (Keep Working With Chronic Illness) and want to include such an exercise. Please share here: What works and doesn’t work for you in this exercise? What might it include to make it more effective? Test it out and post your thoughts here!