The Career Coach is In

Dealing with change Pt. 1

Question:

I have a really hard time dealing with all of the changes going on in my life, not only the professional ones but the personal everyday changes. Any tips on how to deal with change better?

Answer:

The world of work is changing at an extraordinary pace. The old rules no longer apply and new rules are being written and rewritten all the time.

These changes can be unsettling, whether they're potential or actual, positive or negative. You may be gearing up for a promotion, staring at a wide open field of new prospective clients or launching new products and services. Or you may be hunkering down in the face of outsourcing, downsizing, mergers, takeovers, and local and global competition.

How We Respond to Change

As soon as something nudges you out of your regular routine, or challenges your understanding of how the world works and where you fit into it, it will likely trigger a deluge of feelings, including fear, anxiety, excitement, distraction or denial.

In turn, these feelings can manifest in your behavior. You may, unconsciously, act out with aggressive or passive-aggressive communication, both at work and home. You might feel compelled to push yourself and others to overwork, or take the opposite approach and procrastinate, avoiding the work that's on your plate.

On a personal level, your self-care may suffer. You may reach for unhealthy substances or behaviors, get less sleep, skip meals or overindulge. You might cut yourself off from friends and family and spend more time alone or with other people who have unhealthy habits.

The Impact

Both positive and negative stress can have immediate and long-term detrimental effects. Stress inhibits proper digestion and the absorption of nutrients, impairs your body's ability to ward off germs and illness, can cause insomnia and is guaranteed to worsen any pre-existing health conditions. If you're also engaging in unhealthy behaviors and poor self-care, you're at an even higher risk for serious illness and injury.

Dealing with change requires flexibility, resilience and an ability to think on your feet. Unfortunately, when you're caught up in your reaction to change, these mental abilities are affected as well. When you're preoccupied, worried, and focused on the future instead of the present, it's much harder to concentrate and apply your brainpower to what's in front of you.

Great leaders are admired for their serenity and confidence even in the face of uncertainty and upheaval. For many of us, though, when change is afoot serenity is far from our reach. Instead, emotions are much closer to the surface and can flare up at the most inopportune times. Whether you lash out, cry, or pound on your desk behind closed doors, it's incredibly uncomfortable to feel so out of control.

Consider, also, the impact on the people around you. Emotional outbursts, whether at work or home, can irrevocably damage your effectiveness, your reputation and your relationships.

By

Marshall Brown

 |  September 22, 2010; 6:27 AM ET  |  Category:  Career Management , Work/Life Balance , Workplace Interactions Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Finding joy at work | Next: Dealing with change Pt. 2

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Posted by: chadwick23 | September 23, 2010 3:39 AM
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