“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor Frankl
It’s easy to feel like a helpless victim of outside circumstances right now. Maybe you’ve been hoping to create something new in your life, but you’re afraid to take a chance on it. Or it just seems hopeless.
Well, you can’t always control what’s happening around you. But you can control how you handle change.
The art of managing change puts you back in charge of your own career and life choices.
Some Lessons I Learned About Managing Change
Navigating through my own career changes taught me a few things about managing change.
(1) Let go of the old. Even when you know it’s time to move forward, you can find yourself reluctant to let go of your old identity, your familiar comfort zone. Yet you can’t have a new beginning without an ending. Before you can move on to new opportunities, you need to shed your old skin.
(2) Allow yourself time for inner renewal. This very necessary (and sometimes uncomfortable) stage of the process calls for introspection rather than external accomplishments. During this period, you may feel lost at times and frustrated that you’re not getting anywhere. But it’s actually a very productive time, as you get in touch with what’s most important to you. I like to get out in nature, write in my journal, take walks, and simply try to be more patient with myself. The rewards for getting through this stage are renewed energy and purpose.
(3) Look at managing change as a process. I found this a very hard lesson to learn. I wanted a guarantee that everything would work out. I wanted to see some immediate, tangible results. Once I changed my perspective and began moving with the change process itself, I realized I actually could control what happens in my life, but in a different way than I expected.
(4) Trust in your own judgments and opinions. Don’t allow others to derail or discourage you. You’ll be dealing with your own self-doubts and fears, so you certainly don’t need others to make you question your abilities or chances for success. Keep some things to yourself in the beginning stages. Ultimately, your opinion is what matters.
(5) Take action. I’m a perfectionist. I admit it. I tended to over-analyze my career change from accounting to social work, and then again (but not as much) when I transitioned from social work to self-employed career coach. I wanted to have all the angles figured out, to be prepared for all possible circumstances. But every time I thought I needed to do just “a little more research”, I was actually preventing myself from moving forward into my new role. It’s important to weigh major decisions carefully, but there comes a point when you must stop preparing and take some sort of action despite your fears or worries.
And the best lesson of all? Finding out that the answers do come as you take each step forward. Getting unstuck may feel like walking through quicksand some days, but at least you’re moving.
The path you take doesn’t have to be mapped out. As you’re managing change, give yourself permission to try new things and to experiment. Finding your passion often involves following your inklings.
If you decide to embrace change, you may not always know what’s around the corner. But if you decide you’d rather not find out, you risk never stretching into your new skin.
And if you’re ready for a career change, start your transition now. Begin designing the future you want. Life is too short to postpone dreams or to allow yourself to be a victim of your fears. Decide to believe in yourself and in the future! The world needs what you have to offer.
How can managing change help you see new opportunities?