5 Ways to Survive Change – Even if it’s Really Scary
Things change. You either love it or you hate it. Are you wondering how to survive change even if it’s really scary?
Many people hate it. The prospect of a new job, moving to a new house, leaving a relationship or buying a new car can make those who resist change want to run for the hills.
I love change.
I have spent much of my life changing things up. I have lived in San Francisco, Maine, Tokyo, Athens, Boulder, Vermont, Sydney and NYC. Since I graduated from college I have lived in 17 different homes and have worked in the hotel business, the food industry, retail management, real estate sales and now I am a life coach. I have been divorced and lived through my kids going off to college.
I am the person I am today because of opportunities for change that were presented to me throughout my life, ones I chose to pursue. And I love the person who I am today.
They say that people who choose change are happier for it. The process can be messy but once you get through it life just might be what you have always wanted it to be.
I am here today to help you get through that change, so that you can live the life of your dreams.
#1 – Don’t forget to breathe.
When presented with the possibility of change many people freeze up. The prospect is so terrifying that their body actually reacts as it would if faced with the specter of death. And then they run, run for their lives, from that change.
This is when it’s important to remember to breathe. Without breath neither your brain nor your heart can function and making rational choices is impossible.
Think about when you drive by a tractor-trailer on the highway. It’s a scary prospect and you start thinking of all the things that can go wrong. And you hold your breath in anticipation of those things. Next time, try taking a deep breath right before you pass that truck. The breath will calm your body and clear your mind and you will pass it with ease.
It’s the same with change. Try it now. Inhale for 3 seconds, out for 5. Repeat as needed. Your heartbeat will slow and your mind will clear. Very helpful.
#2 – Remember change is GOOD.
Many people are so unaccustomed to change that the prospect seems unbearable. This new thing is going to come in and shake up their lives and they don’t think they can survive it.
But this just isn’t true. We can survive anything. And research shows that most people who make a big change are happier on the other side. Happier. Sounds pretty good, right?
Think about a time earlier in your life when you faced major change. Now think about how you went about it and what the end result was. Was your life ultimately a better place because of that change? Even if things were really messy along the way? Think carefully.
The process can be difficult, and we will address that, but picture yourself on the other side of that change. Life will be different, yes. But that is not necessarily a bad thing.
#3 – Gather information.
One of the most important pieces of thriving in the face of change is the gathering of information. It is impossible to make a smart move without the right information.
It’s time to make a list – a list of all of the positive things and all of the challenging things about your potential change.
If you are moving will it mean a bigger house? Better weather? A longer drive to school or work? An acre lawn to mow?
If it’s a new job will it be better hours or pay? Will the dress code be challenging? Will your boss be someone much younger than you?
Once you have your list of your perceived pluses and minuses address each minus individually.
A smaller house might seem a minus but really a smaller house means less house to clean which would give you more time to do something fun instead.
A younger boss might seem a minus but really a younger boss could teach you some new skills for the ever-evolving workplace. And the fact that you are older could mean built in respect because of the years of working experience you bring to the table.
For every one thing that seems like negative there is a corresponding positive. You just need to identify what those things are. Once you do you will feel ready to face real, substantial change.
#4 – No negative self talk.
We are our own worst enemies. In the face of change our brains tell us that we just can’t do it. That we aren’t smart enough or strong enough or that the change will destroy us.
Again, this just isn’t true.
I have a client who has been given an amazing job opportunity. It has been literally placed at her feet and is hers for the taking. And she is struggling to accept it.
She thinks two things:
- That people will judge her for changing jobs AGAIN after just two years in her current position.
- That she will fail.
I asked her what she would think if she heard of someone switching jobs after 2 years. She said she would think “Wow. That person is really moving up in the world. She is being recognized for her successes. Good for her.”
I asked her to list for me all the reasons that she would fail. Try as she might she couldn’t name one reason. Her brain had been telling her that she would but she couldn’t prove to me that what her brain was saying was true.
Again, our brains can make us our own worst enemies. Recognize that and talk back to that brain. Don’t let it and it’s pesky untruths hold you back.
#5 – Get excited about the possibilities.
Take a good look at that list that you made. Of all of the possibilities that your future holds.
Change is a scary thing but really it is also so exciting. You get a chance to do things differently, to re-invent yourself, to maybe experience things that you haven’t before.
The first steps will most likely be difficult, and scary, but once you get started the sky is the limit. It’s like starting out on a hiking trail and looking up. You wonder how the hell will you get up to the top. And then, when you do, after a fair amount of huffing and puffing, it’s just amazing. The sky is blue and you can see forever. And looking down you can see how far you have come and feel pretty damn proud of yourself.
I am not saying that the prospect of change isn’t scary and overwhelming. It is scary and will be overwhelming. What I am saying is to embrace it, to look at it as a positive thing even if your first reaction is “not so much.”
In my last blog I wrote about getting divorced. A friend of mine said he was jealous. How lucky was I that I was getting a chance for a reboot at 46 years old. And that’s what I got. The reboot itself was rather painful but I was given a new beginning and my life is now amazing. Truly.
I wish this kind of happiness on everyone I know and love. Take a risk. It will be worth it!
Are you struggling with how to survive change?
I know it can be really, really hard. Let me help before it overwhelms you!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get started!
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.