Change is good, right? Then how come it feels jarringly similar to watching an entire episode of The Tyra Banks Show: definitively painful, with undertones of morbid fascination. I would be shocked if anyone reading this has been lucky enough to escape the clutches of change in this unprecedented economic climate. With job losses, budget cuts, having to do more with less – we’ve all been impacted to some extent and in many cases, either directly or indirectly, it’s effected life outside of work.
So, what are you going to do about it? My general advice will have pessimists cringing so consider yourselves warned: you have to find the ‘good’ in the change. You call it optimism; I call it realism because honestly, what other choice do you have? You could resist, but change is like quick sand, the more you struggle and resist, the harder it is to escape. So it’s tough love time for all of you out there who are wallowing in your it’s-not-fairs. If you were hoping for affirmation of your feelings, Oprah has left the building – you’re stuck with me. With changes come opportunity, your challenge is to find it and here’s how:
OK fine, wallow a little!
Indeed, change is uncomfortable and sometimes it downright sucks. Allow yourself a cathartic experience or two – just don’t get too comfortable here. Complain with colleagues over drinks, succumb to a little retail therapy, watch an entire marathon of America’s Next Top Model (just because I make fun of Tyra doesn’t mean that she’s not entertaining) Whatever works. Do what you’ve got to do and then emerge from your guilty pleasures ready to do the hard work that will get you to the other side of this change better off than you are today.
Visiting the ghosts of work past
I want you to picture your pre-change situation. It’s easy to idealize the past when you’re less than thrilled with where you are now. So, resist the urge to recall it as peachy keen. Drown out the sound of harps softly strumming in the distance, puppies playing and babies laughing. What wasn’t working? What were you complaining about then? (Pessimists – see this is fun for you too!) Write all this down. This should help you realize that while maybe things seemed better in the past, there was still room for improvement. Also, perhaps these issues can be addressed now because things are different.
Finding the “Good”
Now it’s time to look at your current situation with a critical eye. Chances are there are at least some good aspects of this change, or opportunities that can work in your favor. For example, even if you’ve lost your job, which can be very difficult on many levels, the possibility of finding an even better job that may be more interesting, pays you more, or has an easier commute, is now available.
It can be hard to find the silver lining when you’re unhappy or your instinct is to resist transition but it’s a critical step toward shaping the situation to your advantage. What can you do to capitalize on the positive, leverage the opportunities and bridge the gaps you identified in the past? Again, write it down! Capturing these thoughts and ideas in a way that you can refer back to will increase your chances of actually doing something about your plight. This can be tough but when you find the answers to the question I posed above and then act on them, I think you’ll find yourself better off than you were before. You’ll also feel incredibly empowered by your ability to turn a seemingly bad situation around for yourself.
What I suggest is not the easy road but change is inevitable and what you’re experiencing now is probably not the first or last time you will encounter discomfort of this variety at work. So are you going roll over and let change happen to you or are you going to use it to make your job, your career, your life – better? That’s a little deep for an article whose title steals and then modifies the name of a popular disco song for comic effect but I stand by it, darn it!