It’s an inescapable reality: things change. Here’s another reality: life will get increasingly difficult for you if you don’t. Your ability to adjust and adapt in response to change -- and do so quickly in a positive and proactive way -- is an essential skill in today's world.
Change is the way the world works. Resenting or resisting change only puts you at a disadvantage. The challenge is that change asks you to let go of old ways of doing things and embrace a new way that is often uncertain, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable.
When circumstances around you are changing, that is a clear message that you need to adjust and adapt. Success belongs to the people and organizations who are able to manage change and adapt to new circumstances.
Here are six mistakes to avoid in response to change.
Mistake #1: Expect certainty and stability.
We don’t live in a world where things always happen just the way you want and expect. We live in a world that is unpredictable and continuously evolving. Therefore, don’t be surprised by change. Be prepared. Change is a reality, it is a necessity, and it is messy. Expect the ambiguity and instability that comes with it.
Mistake #2: Waste energy blaming and complaining.
Getting angry or being stubborn won’t make change go away, but it will make change more stressful and difficult to deal with. Waste zero energy blaming your organization or the market or other people or anything else. Invest your energy in building your capacity to adjust and adapt. Zoom out to understand why the change is happening, then zoom in to focus on how you need to respond.
Mistake #3: Seek protection in the comfort zone.
The comfort zone is an illusion. It is not a place of safety, and it will not protect you from change. While you are hiding in the comfort zone, the world is changing and leaving you behind. The discomfort you feel is simply the old way resisting the new way. Embrace the discomfort and do the work that change requires.
Mistake #4: Let the past control you or the future intimidate you.
It’s easy to get stuck in ruts and routines that are comfortable but less-than-effective. But doing more of what doesn’t work, doesn’t work. Eliminate what is no longer necessary or productive. What worked yesterday may not work today and almost certainly won’t work tomorrow. Change is the bridge to the future. Your future. Be intentional about contributing to that future. Act with courage and step up to the unknown.
Mistake #5: Slow down and drag your feet.
The need for change isn’t going away, so if you try to slow play it or respond with passive resistance, you’re only wasting time. Accelerate and get busy making the changes you need to make. Do the new things and learn the new skills as quickly as possible. Don’t let the rate of change around you exceed the rate of change within you. The sooner you adjust and adapt, the more successful and less stressed you will be.
Mistake #6: Make change a threat.
Change is inconvenient, uncomfortable, and scary. For that reason, many people see it as a threat. Don’t get misled by the majority. Don’t do what most people do. Change isn’t a threat; it’s an opportunity. Differentiate yourself and make the way you respond to change a competitive advantage.
Many people want change without discomfort, but it doesn’t work that way. Success in today’s world requires you to embrace productive discomfort and do the work that change requires. Your personal and professional success depends on your ability to adjust and adapt.
Do the work.