The challenge of change
The sudden change of weather and temperature has heralded winter’s arrival. Samhain (summer’s end) has passed through our country, with dress up, spooky movies, bonfires and trick or treating. Our symbolic Celtic festival marks the beginning of the ‘darker half’ of the year and the end of harvest. A time when the boundaries between worlds (inner or outer, mortal and immortal) are merged and possibilities open up. It seems an ideal time to think about change – and more specifically the challenge of change.
The notion of change is by now a ubiquitous and cliché concept. Technology has fundamentally altered every possible profession and sector; education, manufacturing, health and finance to name but a few. The World Economic forum has predicted that adaptability to change will be a key marker of career success for the future. And yet, change (personal, professional and organisational) often challenges us at our very core.
One significant reason for this is how our brain responds to new information. We now know that new ways of thinking or working require us to build neural pathways (a road map for the brain). It therefore takes huge neural energy and effort to lay the foundation for new behaviour and new ways of thinking. Our brains naturally prefer the easy, predictable, same old, same old, what is known and safe. However our hearts and souls often yearn for change, challenge, stimulation and adventure. Like the ‘in-between’ worlds of Samhain, we can view change with a mixture of anticipation and dread.
So how can we welcome inevitable change? Here are my top five suggestions:
- Acknowledge that letting go of old habits/jobs/friends is difficult.
- Use your motivations or goals to fuel you through the transition process e.g. “attending this course means I can reach my potential in my new job”, “by joining this club I will make new friends”, “if I can swim, I can join my kids in the pool” etc. etc.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Those friends, family, colleagues, mentor, counsellor who are supportive and will help keep you on track.
- Practice, practice, practice. Every time you practice, you are strengthening the connections in your heart and mind and eventually, the conscious ‘work’ of a new task will become second nature. Remember when you started learning to drive or ride a bicycle or speak a new language?
- Try to protect some stable zones in your life. So maybe buying a house, starting a new job, taking on a new course ALL AT THE SAME TIME is not the best strategy. Keep some islands of predictability and safety.
So work with yourself, not against and remember
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”
George Bernard Shaw