February/March 2019

Change is inevitable, but how do you cope?

I was having a conversation with a friend who’d worked for many years in a small family run business. She’d started her working life there, had worked in every area of the business and as such had acquired many skills throughout that time. Now the family was closing the business and she was really struggling to cope with the inevitability of the change that was coming.

She was feeling insecure, lost, fearful about the future and concerned as to how she would cope.
This is not unusual when we’re faced with our world suddenly changing; a longterm relationship ends, our health unexpectedly suffers, the children leave home or we reach a significant birthday and life can seem quite scary and uncertain. Some of us glide effortlessly through, whilst others feel rather differently and are hurt, unnerved, struggling to compute what’s happened. It can be a massive blow to our identity, confidence and sense of who we are. Our life path, once so very clearly mapped out has now become unrecognisable.

How do you cope when you know that change is inevitable?

Grieve for the loss of the familiar. Allow some time to adjust to the loss of the life you once knew, it was so much a part of your reality. Yes those automatic, everyday routines are now gone; the route to work, knowing where everything is, what’s expected of you, the relationships, security and expectations. Accept that it’s a lot to cope with and allow a period of time to heal and come to terms with the ending of that part of your life. Take time to reflect and acknowledge all that you’ve received, the lessons learned, the character-building experiences you’ve been through as a consequence. They’ve all contributed to you becoming the person you are today, and can be viewed as stepping-stones to your future, to who you’ll eventually become. Relax and determine to continue evolving, growing and improving.

Do some research. If you have dates and information about forthcoming planned changes use the time to investigate, learn and understand what’s being mooted. You can then prepare mentally and perhaps even physically. Being healthy and informed gives you better control, and allows you to make positive decisions about the part, if any, you may wish to play in future changes.

Start to plan ahead. Impending change can prompt you to query if you want to stay in the same location or line of work. You will no doubt have made contacts within other businesses in your field. You could introduce yourself, maybe form liaisons with people with complementary talents, or even set up something on your own. Might it be a good time to explore what’s available and transfer some of your skills to another employer or business?

Life’s not all work. Explore groups where you could make new friends, interests and enhance your skills. Treat this time as a great opportunity to enrich your life. Many people will be in the same position as you, starting out again for a variety of reasons. Make yourself available and support each other.

You’ve made new starts before! There will have been many times when you’ve had to adapt and accommodate change throughout your life; change is inevitable, with new schools, teachers, friends, homes, colleagues and ways of doing things often having to be absorbed into your daily life at different points. Look forward to bringing your knowledge and experience into this next stage of your life and moving a little out of your comfort zone.

Don’t assume change is going to be difficult, awkward or unpleasant. Be positive and anticipate the chance to grow and improve, to maybe update your skills. Resist prejudging new opportunities as being too different, difficult or alien to you. You were new in your old role once and learned to become the competent, proficient person you are today. Hold onto that knowledge and enthusiasm. It’s time to direct it to a new home!

Be proactive. Your old employer doesn’t owe you anything; yes you’ve successfully worked together for many years, but they paid you for your services, respected and trained you, supported you on occasion. Life moves on and now it’s their time to move on. You also need to, so start accepting invitations to network, make new connections, get online and join groups. Then you can explore what’s out there and discover what might be of interest or suit you.

Would updating your image be a valuable step to take? Often when we freshen up our look with a new hairdo, new way of dressing, toning up a bit, losing a few pounds, we feel better able to cope and ready to take on the world. Yes, change can rock our foundations, but sometimes that’s not such a bad thing. Embrace the inevitability of what’s happened or is happening to you. Allow even health-related issues to push you to look at life differently, learn to value your genuine relationships, prompt you to start volunteering, make you adopt a different pace.

Accept what you can’t change and determine to enjoy those new doors as they open.

Susan Leigh
0161 928 7880