The changes you experience, both big and small, can dramatically affect your point of view, mood and energy level. New circumstances bring new challenges, yet no matter how joyous or upsetting they may be, you have an option about how you choose to think about and respond to the changes you face, both at work and at home. Change champions know that dealing with external change is an internal game that requires clarity of feelings, the ability to reflect and self-determination. They also know that internal change requires a purpose greater than itself and an ability to keep going when the going gets rough. No matter how tough the terrain, people who are skillful at working with change have some common precepts of personal responsibility they live by.
Enjoy the Journey
Those who stay calm in the midst of chaos are above all realists who are honest about their circumstances but don’t easily succumb to pessimism. While they may hope that difficult situations get resolved, or that the pressures at home and work lessen, they aren’t caught up in magical thinking — i.e., believing that one day, they will miraculously have enough time and resources to get everything done perfectly. Rather, change masters understand that they have the power to shape their attitude and approach so that they can enjoy the journey now rather than later.
Enjoying the journey means not wasting energy thinking about everything that isn’t when your life is so full of everything that is. Ask yourself:
1.How much of your time at work is spent wishing you were somewhere else, doing something different? (Warning: if you spend one hour a day wishing you were somewhere else, by retirement age, you would have wasted a year and a half!)
2.If, as you approached the end of your life, you were magically granted an extra 18 months, how would you spend it? Would you waste time wishing you were somewhere else, or would you enjoy every moment?
3.What would you have to do to be more focused on what you’re doing right now?
Invent Meaningful Contexts
Because masters of managing change are unwilling to put off their satisfaction until later — and because they realize they can’t change many of the irksome aspects of life (interruptions, deadlines, policies, etc.) — they choose to view their circumstances through a meaningful context.
Focusing on a meaningful context can instantly alter how we relate to even the most trying of circumstances. For example, in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, many ordinary people who had lost loved ones chose a context of love and compassion over one of hate and revenge. Some of the bereaved started charity groups to help bridge cultural divides and worked to build schools for children — particularly children in Muslim countries.
Less wrenching but still significant context possibilities present themselves to us every day — if we choose to take advantage of them. Ask yourself:
1.What negative contexts do you have about:
Your family members?
2.What positive aspects can you find in any of the above situations?
3.How can you turn those positive aspects into a meaningful context?
Find the Success in Failure
We all experience failure. For most of us, not meeting a deadline, not quite completing a project, or not reaching some other goal is accompanied by a raft of excuses that help protect us from the unpalatable truth — we failed. We blame circumstances, management, other departments, our families, interruptions, morale, market trends — even the weather — but in doing so, we miss an important opportunity to grow and learn.
Change masters see failure as an opportunity for discovery rather than a chance to apportion blame. Regardless of who was at fault, they know that if they focus their attention on who should get nailed rather than on what they could have done differently, they stop being a powerful player and become a victim.
Failure is a wonderful opportunity for discovery because it makes visible what was previously completely unseen. As soon as something stops working correctly, we are forced to become more aware of how it functions. Think about the last time your computer had a glitch or your car broke down. Up until the point of failure, you were probably unaware of the mechanics and engineering at play; however, once the computer or car stopped working, you became excruciatingly aware of how it was supposed to function — and were forced to figure out why it wasn’t. Likewise, failing in an endeavor offers us the opportunity to understand and improve upon what has previously gone unnoticed.
1.How often do you blame others or the circumstances? Frequently, occasionally, or rarely?
2.How often do you see yourself as the victim of other people’s failures? Frequently, occasionally, or rarely?
3.Is there a relationship between your answers to question 1 and question 2?
This post was originally published at Karen Leland’s Featured Small Business column on The Huffington Post.