Skills for Making Change Work

Thought for the week:   Skills for Making Change Work 

“Change” is a loaded subject.  We tend to despise change when things happen unpredictably and/or outside the locus of our control, yet we desire change when situations or relationships are not going well.  For example, when our partner is doing something annoying or the company we work for is not recognizing our contributions.  Personally we may realize the detriment of habits, behaviors or thoughts within us and admonish ourselves for not changing them.  Addictions are a good example of this.  Perhaps we’ve tried, over and over, and failed to institute changes within ourselves.   These are the times we wish for effortless change.

Clearing out some old document files, I came across a list titled “What You Can Do – Skills for Making Change Work.”  I hope you find some of the suggestions helpful with situations or personal habits you’ve been trying to change:

Change the way you look at change  and anticipate that it is always going to occur.

Take responsibility for your own behavior  (I especially like this one when it comes to couples issues – so easy to focus on what the other.).

~ Start with one thing at a time – baby steps.

~ Write a list to help you identify and concretize the options before you.

Be open to help (advice, opinions) from carefully selected others that you trust, admire, respect.

Carefully select the places and times to express your feelings, rather then on impulse.

Be prepared for emotional and physical fatigue.  Part of change involves re-wiring your brain – this takes time and energy.

~ Keep your sense of humor.

~ Change can be exhausting, even positive change.  Find ways to reduce your physical and mental stress.

~ Use the situation as an opportunity for personal growth.

Be flexible and open to learning new ways.

Don’t blame everything that happens on the change.

~ Remember you can only change yourself, not others.

~ Embrace and immerse in the change – go beyond your duties; look for what else needs to be done.

Support others who are working through change; help them by being prepared to listen. 

(Partially adapted from Making Change Work, GE aerospace & Russell-Rogat Transition Specialties, Inc.,  Cleveland, 1993; and Scott  & Jaffe, Managing Personal Change – Self-Management Skills for Work and Life’s Transitions, Los Altos: Crisp Publications, Inc., 1989).