When It's Time to Pivot- How to Tackle Uncertainty & Changes
This topic has been on my mind for a while and I literally thought about it for weeks. I would start and stop, literally asking myself if this was a blog that really need to be written? If I write it, will you want to read it? Then I realized that this blog was more for myself than anyone else. I felt like if I didn't write this blog then I might not write anything else. So here goes...
Before reading this I want you to think about the last change you went through or the change you are going through right now. What does that feel like? You may be saying stressful, confusing, difficult... the list can go on and on.
Here's the thing, we all count on routine for so many different reasons. It's safe, it is predictable, and you can make plans according to it. However, at some point in time, on your job, in your family--change happens. So what do you do? You've relied on this routine for however many years, and now poof, things have changed. So I'm here to offer you just a few tips to cope and move to the next level.
It's perfectly okay to be in a moment of shock. However, this is not a state you want to be in for too long. So take a moment and gather your thoughts, give them a name. What are you feeling? Are you sad, mad, confused? Whatever it is... live in those moments for as long as you need to. Think about what's happening and the emotions that go along with it.
This is obviously a step you are going to want to do privately, at home, in your car, in your office behind a closed door. The last thing you want to do is externally live out a huge change in front of others that may judge your reaction later (i.e. coworkers, direct reports, or even family and friends in some cases). We often react to change versus working through it, so taking these moments in private prevent you from saying or doing something you may regret later.
So here comes the work. Now that you have dealt with your feelings, you need to take out your some paper and write. You will want to describe the event and everything that just took place in great detail. Don't leave anything out. What is this change and how has it made you feel? How do you translate what is going on in your head and heart to actual words on paper. Think of the word catharsis which is derived from the Greek terms meaning cleanse and pure. So take these moments to clear it all out.
To go a step further, ask yourself what does this change mean for me. What are we really talking about here:
Change at work = more work for me
New boss = creating a new relationship
Divorce or break up = way of life changing
Job loss = job or career search
Relocation = changing my way of life
Change to pay = realigning my budget
Death or loss = grief and other affects
Other = whatever the impact may be
This is a time where you can list what the actual results are if they have happened already or any impacts that could happen.
Now that you've captured everything and stored it away, you may find that this is a time you need to recharge. Take some time off, maybe it's a day, maybe it's a week. Take the time you need to empty your mind and fill your spirit with family time or getting back to you. Take that trip that has been sitting in your bucket list. Finish that project in the garage. Whatever it is that gets you back to a place of productivity, do that. This will prepare you for your next step in the journey.
Depending on what just happened, a trip or spa day may be a luxury you either can't afford or just doesn't make sense. That's okay, you can still take a step away. Maybe it's putting a puzzle together or taking a walk. There are many ways to recharge, the point is to intentionally do it. Your cup has been poured out and now you need to refill it.
So what's next for you? If the impending changes are mostly positive, you are already a step ahead. If they are mostly negative, here is where we refocus.
How can I get ahead of this change?
What actionable steps can I take so the change has minimal to no effect on me (or my paycheck, family, work life balance, budget, household, etc)?
What are all the options available to me?
Have I been given or offered resources or options that will be helpful to me?
What plans did I previously set in place for this?
When you're in the midst of a big change, it is very easy to forget all the things that you have already done to avoid this so in the midst of your regrouping, be sure to have a sign of relief or a pat on the back for taking care of yourself ahead of time. If you are reading this and don't have things set up (like an emergency savings plan, life insurance, disability insurance, a networking plan, etc) there is no better time to start than now.
So we know we took some time away to reflect, refocus, and hopefully time away from the office or home to also recharge. So now is the time to reconnect. Write down the major players in the change. Who do we need to reach out to (new boss, coworkers, family, friends, network, etc)? Who is causing the change? Assuming this is a change you can not prevent, you want them to know you are on board and have created plans to move through the change.
If it is at work, send a positive note welcoming the new boss or the new change and let them know they have your support. Depending on the channel, you can list a couple of ways you will promote the change or move through it.
If this is a change that happened at home or affects the home, gather the family and have a sit down on what has happened, what the plan is, and how you will move forward. Get others involved in the conversation and hear out their feelings.
The biggest step you can take in this process is to pay it forward. Identify who you need to help move through the change (your direct reports, peers, spouse, children, etc.) Share the knowledge in which you have gained with this process. Seek out how others are feeling, ask thought provoking questions, and find ways to be helpful and to remove mental and emotional barriers. Not only will you be doing a great deed that will be noticeable in the office or the family, you will also give yourself your own confidence and energy boost as you relive the process you have gone through to be able to accept the change and move past it.
Change isn't easy and it will take time, but if you spend the time constructively, you can get through it. There are always additional resources to help you such as seeing a counselor or therapist (consult your employer/HR to see if your company offers Employee Assistance Programs). You don't have to go through change alone but you can come out on top!