By Jim Madrid
If you don’t like change, 2015 is going to be a tough year for you.If you don’t like change, your emotions will be taxed to an all time heights in 2015.If you don’t like change, you will be overwhelmed and stressed beyond belief in 2015.If you don’t like change, 2015 is going to be a tough year for you (it was worth repeating).
I can go into all of the change that is coming but I think you know that it’s coming. And that’s not the point of this article.
Whenever you’re facing significant change—no matter what that change may be—it’s your attitude toward the change that will determine how you get through it and whether something good comes from it.
Here are some things you can do to meet the challenge of change and come out a winner in 2015 and beyond.
Steps 1: Acknowledge the Change
Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts”. Arnold Bennett
Recognize and analyze the change. Don’t try to ignore it. Remember, you can’t control your response to change until you accept the fact that things are actually changing. So you need to let go of the past, say good-bye to how it used to be. You’re not going to find it as easy as you did last year. The market has shifted, and competition has become fierce. So you acknowledge it: “Okay. Things are different.” And then you ask yourself the moving on question: “Now what?”
Step 2: Adjust Your Attitude
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” Maya Angelou
Change is much easier to manage if you decide to see it as a challenge, not a threat. Challenges teach you some important things about yourself. So does change. Challenge and change both force you out of your comfort zone.
Challenges present you with an opportunity to remind yourself of what’s most important to you, and change does the same thing.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
If you’re feeling threatened by change, or a little anxious, admit it. Then, do something about it. If you’re feeling unsure of your ability to successfully ride the wave of change, acknowledge it. Then, decide to take steps that will create more confidence. What kind of steps? Create some affirmations that will address your feelings of uncertainty and fear.
• “For every door that is closing, I find one that is opening.”
• “I see change as a challenge and an opportunity for growth.”
• “Change is an essential part of life; I welcome it and adapt quickly.”
• “I take change one step at a time, and I’m proud of my ability to adjust to new circumstances.”
• “I change whatever I need to change inside myself in order to successfully handle change on the outside.”
• “I build better tomorrows through the changes I face today.”
Step 3: Stay Balanced, avoid learned helplessness
He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.” Frances Bacon
Another useful part of a change management strategy is making sure that your life stays balanced. Change, particularly sudden or major change, can temporarily upset your normal routines. For a while, you may feel out of control, overwhelmed, off balance. It’s important to make that time as short as you can. When some things in your life are changing, it’s a good idea to keep in close touch with the things you value that stay the same.
Routine can be a great stabilizer, so make sure you keep doing at least some of what you usually do, especially when it comes to exercise, sleep, healthy eating habits, and spending time with family and friends.
Walk your dog at the same time you usually do, and take the same route. Play Candyland with your preschooler for the three hundredth time.Play a round of golf on Saturday mornings, as you like to do.Things like this serve as reminders that, even though it may feel like it some days, everything in your life is not changing.
Step 4: Avoid “Learned Helplessness”
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James A. Baldwin.
Learned helplessness is exactly what it sounds like. Through your past conditioning and through your self-talk, you create a state of mind that you fall into now and then which sounds something like this:
“I can’t do anything about it, so why should I try?” “I’m a victim of forces outside myself that are much bigger than I am.” Of course, you may not actually say those words to yourself, but that’s what you believe, and that’s how you behave. You know that one out four people that own a VCR in this country haven’t had their blinking clocks set. Do you know why that is? It’s because their owners believe it’s too complicated to program them, so they don’t even try. This is learned helplessness.
When they’re faced with a change of any great magnitude, and, very often, with any change at all, many people become paralyzed with this energy draining state of mind. This is happening to me, they think. I didn’t cause it or create it, and I can’t do anything about it. And they are partially right.
Sometimes you can’t stop an unwanted change from happening in your life. You can’t change the refi market right now. You can’t change interest rates.But you sure as heck can control how you respond to them. You can program yourself to overcome learned helplessness and, instead, find a way to take advantage of change. Think about it.
You can always use these changes, which no one likes, to become more flexible, adaptable, and strong.You can use them to learn from and grow.
Step 5: Keep Long-Term Goals in Mind
It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” W. Edwards Denning
When you’re faced with change, especially change that’s imposed from the outside, it’s a very good idea to keep your long-term goals in mind.
Change can throw you off track sometimes, but it can’t send you on a detour for long if you have a clear picture in your mind of where you’re going.When you stay focused on long-term goals, you regain a sense of control over your life. You remember that what happens around you doesn’t have the power to change what is inside you, unless you give it that power.
Visualization helps enormously. I highly recommend that you take a few minutes every day to close your eyes and imagine the end-result you’re working toward. What will it look like? How will it feel? And, most important of all, why do you want it? Make it as clear and real as you can, and remind yourself—you don’t have to know exactly how you’re going to get there. You’ll invent that as you go along. But you do have to have a clear picture of your destination. You’ll deal with obstacles and challenges as they present themselves, and get help if you need it. You may have to alter some plans, but if you know where you’re going and you refuse to quit, I can guarantee that you’ll get there.
Developing a Change Management Strategy & Controlling Self-Talk
Don’t let this list intimidate you. None of us is perfect.
We are always going to be more or less of any one of these things. Maybe you’re a little weak on self-esteem, for example, but you’re wide open to new ideas. Maybe you have a great sense of humor but you tend to tolerate too much distress—so much that you put up with bad behavior from others far too long. Or maybe one of your strengths is that you’re very organized, but you’re having a hard time developing the self-discipline it takes to really make the most of some of your other talents. So what can you do? First of all, don’t expect perfection. That’s not reasonable or even achievable.
But do challenge yourself to keep growing. You can decide to develop the qualities that you’re a little weak in, and, at the same time, you can create a change management strategy that plays to your strengths. For example, you can use your openness to new ideas to help you come up with ways to build your self-esteem. You can use your sense of humor to help you relax while you stretch your comfort zone by creating some clear personal boundaries.
You can use your organizational talent to create a schedule that helps you stay disciplined and on track.
If you have trouble coming up with a strategy that uses your strengths to help shore up your weak spots, you might want to consider using a personal coach for a while.
Creating growth strategies that take advantage of your strengths is one of the things that good coaches do extremely well. They’re also very good at supporting their clients through times of transition and regrouping. Even if you choose not to hire a coach, don’t overlook your need for that support system. Don’t listen to self-talk that says things like, “I got into this, so I should be able to get out of it without any help.” Or “I feel angry and discouraged, but I don’t want anyone to know.”
The first step in overcoming those feelings is acknowledging them, and it definitely helps to talk about them to someone who’s on your side.
The next step, of course, is to substitute positive affirmations for every negative thought. Turn your self-talk around by saying things like
I have what it takes to stay the course and achieve my long-term goals.”Or “I am a resilient person who always rebounds from a setback.”Or “I get great results by enlisting talented people to help me achieve my goals.”
Use your own words and fit them to your situation, visualize them often enough to make an impression on your subconscious, and make sure you keep reminding yourself that these are truths you are affirming, not fantasies.
Focus, Focus, Focus
Whether life is presenting you with a challenge or a cruise, more than anything else, the thing that determines how you get through it is what you choose to focus your attention on. A quick way to tell where you are focusing is by questioning yourself, and being absolutely honest with your answers. What kinds of thoughts are you thinking? Are they helping you or holding you back? What kind of people do you surround yourself with?
What do you do with your time? What kind of life do you want, and, most important, why do you want it? What are you doing to get there? In short, where is your focus?
It is often in times of great turmoil and trouble that we find ourselves pushed to our limits. And then, very often, we discover that our limits are much further out than we thought they were. During such times, there may come a defining moment or turning point, a moment when we become very, very clear about what we want and what we don’t want. Never again, we may say, will I get myself into a situation like this. Never again will my family have to worry about money. Never again will I take risks with my health.
Never again will I put those I love last and my work first. Never again will I take my safety and security for granted. At these moments, our focus shifts and narrows, and we use this clear focus, this defining moment, as a catalyst for propelling ourselves into a different way of being. Focusing can lead to tremendous positive change, because there is nothing, absolutely nothing, more powerful than a determined mind.
Football great Russell Wilson was so focused during a game that he refused to have eye contact with anyone or anything that broke his concentration. During the post-game interview after winning Super Bowl, he said this: “I believe I can accomplish anything I set my mind to…the mind is the strongest thing in your body. It will overtake anything you want to overtake.”
The W word
Something that many people in my line of work seem to avoid talking much about is hard Work. They like to make staying the course in changing times sound easy. All you have to do is affirm and visualize, develop a positive attitude, And—Presto!—your life will become a walk in the park, filled with success, money, love everything you ever wanted. If that doesn’t happen right away, well just hang in there, because, sooner or later it will.
This is simply not true.
In our ‘Ten Principles of Mental Conditioning’™ we teach the techniques of affirmation, visualization, and positive thinking, because they are powerful and useful tools, and everyone should know how to use them.
But make no mistake. They aren’t magic wands. To get where you want to go in life, to stay the course when times get tough, to pick yourself up and start over again when you’ve had the rug pulled out from under you— all those things require hard work. They require determination and persistence and effort. Daily effort. Week after week, month after month, year after year. It is not a walk in the park, although it’s true that as you grow and develop, it does get easier. Yes, it’s filled with satisfaction and joy and the thrill of achieving a difficult goal, then going on to set and achieve many others. Yes, it offers lasting, high-level happiness in the long run.
But it’s also got its share of disappointment, heartache, and frustration. Every once in a while, you will really be put to the test. There’ll be days when you question your ability to hang in there. There’ll be days when you want to quit. Days when you’re sure that your get up and go got up and went. But I want you to know and remember that you can do it.
You absolutely can.
If you stay on course. If you are flexible and embrace change. If you are consistent in your efforts. If you ask for help when you need it. If you want it, plan for it, visualize and affirm it, and if you do whatever it takes to get it, with all your heart, on a daily basis. In a way, it’s like brushing and flossing your teeth, and I use this example because I want you to keep in mind that it won’t always be something extremely difficult that presents the biggest challenge. In fact, your greatest challenge will very often come from the routine, day-after-day grunt work that you really don’t like and tend to avoid. But if you do what you need to do, then you can walk away with something to smile about.
To stick with this simple example, of course you don’t walk away with a Hollywood smile every time you brush and floss your teeth. But imagine for a moment what your smile would look like, what your mouth and gums would look and feel like, if you didn’t consistently brush.
In just the same way, the changes that you make in your life, all those positive, focused things that you do on a daily basis, may seem small, even insignificant for a while. But the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, and most major changes happen in small increments. If they are done consistently, small things add up.
The Attitude of Gratitude
In closing, I want to tell you a story I heard from a good friend of mine.
He said it was driving him nuts that whenever he’d come home from work, he’d find his driveway full of bicycles, scooters, Hot Wheels, and miscellaneous toys. Almost every day, he’d have to get out of his car, move the toys off to the side, then get back in the car and pull into the garage.
He lectured his kids about picking up their toys. He even shouted at them a time or two. He offered them rewards, gold stars and special privileges. Everything he tried worked for a while, but in a couple of days, it’d be a disaster area again. One evening, it was particularly bad. It was raining.
Fuming and furious, my friend got out of the car and began throwing bikes, trikes, Barbie dolls and Ninja turtles onto the lawn. Then, his neighbor, a retired man whose youngest son had just gotten married, walked over and began to give him a hand.
My friend started to gripe about how sick he was of this daily cleanup, but his neighbor just smiled. “Actually,” he said, “I kind of miss doing this. Maybe you should enjoy it while it lasts. Your kids are going to be grown up and gone before you know it. You won’t believe how fast it all goes.”
That was a moment of insight and focus for my friend. An important turning point, even though at the time it seemed small. From that day on, he says he has practiced feeling gratitude when he sees the driveway looking like an aisle at Toys-R-Us. As he puts it, “My neighbor taught me an important lesson, and I’m just grateful I was open enough to hear it. My kids are still with me, but not for long. I want to treasure the time we still have left.
And kids, bless their hearts, are just natural-born slobs.” I love that story.
A situation that was causing ongoing frustration and anger was completely transformed, and not a single thing changed except my friend’s attitude.
The value of an experience, any experience, is up to you. When something bad, even something really terrible happens, you can react as you may have been conditioned to react, with defeat, frustration, helplessness, hopelessness, and anger. Or you can decide that you will salvage something from the loss. If you’re having an experience that you are not enjoying, you can try to change it, if you can, and if you can’t, you can choose to learn from it and grow. What you allow yourself to think about an experience determines the effect that it is going to have on you. You are not helpless. Things are not hopeless. Bad times don’t last. And you can make whatever you choose to make this meeting, this market, this year, and your entire life.Jim Madrid is the Founder of Advance Sports Technology, Inc..You can reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at: www.jimmadrid.com