At my desk, I have a sign that reads, “The most dangerous phrase in the language is ‘we’ve always done it this way’ by Rear Admiral Grace Hopper.”
Growing up as a child of a military serviceman can be seen as the ultimate training in becoming comfortable with change. We moved
around quite a bit, and each time, we started over. I attribute my sociability, flexibility, and adaptability to this form of ordered nomadism. Still, I managed to become a creature of habit over the last few years.
While we view much change as negative, even good change can elicit feelings of discomfort, anxiety, and fear. Over the last few months, I have had a rollercoaster of feelings about the potential of positive change. Endeavors that would directly benefit me have caused me much stress. There are a few things I consciously do to trek forward optimistically when faced with change.
1. Acknowledge that your feelings are real.
When change is occurring, especially good change, those external to your situation do not understand why you could possibly be stressed. However, it is not the circumstance itself causing you to fret; it is the feelings of change as a result of that circumstance. These feelings are normal, and do not let anyone invalidate your feelings by claiming them as pretense.
2. Find others who have experienced similar change and ask them for candid advice.
There are persons in your network who have moved to that city, worked at this university, or were promoted to that management position, among countless other examples. Few people mind giving advice, and sometimes their advice proves to be far more valuable than you think.
3. Use your support system.
One of my favorite things to do is talk things through with family and close friends. I am not seeking advice necessarily. I just need to be heard and encouraged when they reassuringly say, “You’re doing fine. Everything will work out fine.”
No matter how much change you have experienced, change rarely gets easier. Perhaps, this is because change forces us out of where “we’ve always done it this way” resides. Good or bad, it is still change.