“Change (noun): the act of becoming different, or the result of something becoming different” [Cambridge University Press, 2018]
There are two categories of change. Some are voluntary; whether the situation is in dire need of ‘rectifying’ or the transition is a positive advancement – a natural progression – within an existing framework. The latter bracket involves changes that are thrust upon us.
There are also two collectives of people; those who embrace change, jumping at the opportunity, and those who have not experienced much change in their life, are less adapted to adapting, and fear it. Change brings newness. Change brings the unknown.
Some Unsolicited Advice…
In an age when everything and anything appears on social media as instantaneously as it occurs in reality; when undergoing a transition, you may wish to hold back. This enables you to digest the change, react to it, and adapt accordingly. By posting on social media, a person opens a private situation to the public’s opinion. If you are not ready to receive potentially adversarial comments (not that they all will be, rather you cannot control other people’s views), which is likely, seeing as times of change can also be times of fragility, delay posting until you are. Otherwise, you may not respond appropriately and you could let your mood at that time influence your relationship with another person for a lifetime.
Furthermore, while ‘a change’ can seem to be a big thing, e.g. marriage, moving homes, changing jobs, etc. one transition is really an amalgamation of smaller actions. If you can break down every major change into its smallest counterparts, you can conquer each one individually and overcome a major change without realising it.
Finally, avoid taking on too much change too fast. Where possible, graduate your changes. Yes, in certain situations, this is not possible (e.g. both marriage and divorce come hand in hand with moving homes), but otherwise, try to plan your calendar so that changes occur in stages.
“Be Prepared” (Baden-Powell, 1907)
There are so many ways to prepare for upcoming changes. When moving homes; you can take the time to visit the new location, stay in a local hotel, travel around the area, and learn which shops are locally available. This all helps people become accustomed to a new community before joining. Similarly, before starting a new job, a person can adapt their routine and purchase everything they require for that position; e.g. durable work-wear, stationary, etc.
Having a baby comes with 9 months of preparation time. Nothing can truly prepare new parents for the phenomenal transition couples experience when their baby is born and the few months thereafter. However, having a long pregnancy period enables parents to read the books, participate in the classes, and buy the necessities before the baby arrives.
Not all, but certain changes can be acclimatised to physically, mentally, and/or emotionally. Unfortunately, some changes are forced upon us suddenly, or else are too difficult to adapt to so quickly, such as sudden illness or death, or redundancy.
Are Certain People Better at Handling Change than Others?
Rogers Diffusion of Innovation Theory (1962) asserts that a new product will be adopted differently by different categories of customers. Among other uses, the model declares 2.5% customers to be ‘Innovators’, 13.5% ‘Early Adopters’, 34% ‘Early Majority’, 34% ‘Late Majority’, and finally 16% ‘Laggards’. A very small group pioneer the change, a slightly larger group adopt a new product quickly, but most customers wait for the comfort of Opinion Leaders’ testimonies that the change is worthwhile before adopting it. Reluctant to change? Do not worry, so are 84% of society.
Another view is that a person’s resistance to a transition will increase or decrease depending on the cost/benefit analysis of that change. The greater the expected benefit, the better the individual will handle the proposed adaptation, although this gain can be undercut by the unpredictability of the benefit. The reverse is also true; the greater the cost of a certain transition, the more unlikely a person will be to accept it. If the cost surpasses the benefit, a person’s resistance will be exceptionally high.
I personally believe that certain people are more amenable than others. This usually comes hand in hand with significant past experiences of change. I recently moved homes, and when people ask how I coped with the change, I always respond very casually. Why? I have moved, on average, once every three years of my life. I have moving down to a science!
People are not so averse to change as they are to the unknown; change occurs constantly, universally. The common metaphor of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly cautions that we all go through changes at our own personal paces, but we all get there in the end (Rose, 2016).
More mindfulness and wellbeing tips can be found in my motivational calendar for 2019.
Whether reflecting on experience, or looking forward in anticipation, every day is an opportunity to do something positive. TV psychologist & author Dr Audrey Tang (43) and creative writer & millennial business blogger Rachel Gordon (23) have teamed up to inspire your 2019 – whatever your age!
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