How To Manage Change

Posted by on Sep 23, 2011 in Career Management | 10 comments

Stability is a concept of the past. Very few of us have true job security or business security, and changes in technology and business force us to adapt to change if we want to enjoy our best life and career success.

Three years ago I started looking for work for the first time in over 5 years in a completely changed job market. As someone who considered myself a skilled and successful professional, I wasn’t prepared for the changes in the job market that occurred. After 6 months of looking for work while I had my pay cut and lost my benefits, I was laid off.

In the last two years I’ve had three different jobs. I have learned a lot from the last three years of employment instability and change, and I now feel better prepared to succeed in any economy and I am far more experienced at dealing with change.

Managing change is one of the most valuable skills you can have in your life and your career. It will help you stay calm and rational, reduce stress during stressful times, and will build your reputation as a valuable employee.

Here are some lessons I learned about managing change:

Don’t panic.
You don’t have all the information yet, and I strongly encourage you to wait for more information before making a major life decision during a transition. You may get laid off, but if you quit before the layoffs you could loose severance pay and unemployment benefits.

Depending on your financial situation, you may have the opportunity to turn down a job offer if the job is not right for you. If you’re not yet unemployed, or you’re newly unemployed, you don’t have to accept the first offer you receive.

I accepted my first job offer on unemployment out of fear, and had to quit that job because of unsatisfactory work conditions. After that experience, I turned down three job offers before accepting an offer that was right for me. I’m grateful I didn’t accept another job offer out of fear.

Keep it in perspective.
Unwanted change is scary- terrifying even! Your mind will start processing the worst case scenarios.

The truth is you don’t know what will happen. A positive outcome is just as likely as a negative one, and I repeated that statement to myself anytime I needed to hear it. I kept repeating it until I believed it.

Let go.
Recognize and accept the situation is out of your control. There is peace of mind and heart in letting go of what you can’t control.

When I experienced the height of my uncertainty, worry and anxiety, I wrote the following on a note that I attached to my computer monitor, Just for today I will love myself enough to give up the struggle over something that is out of my hands.

I looked at that note every day, and every time the knot in my stomach started to grow. I took a deep breath in, and out. I walked. I stretched. I found some way to release the tension and negative energy from my body and I let it go.

managing change

Believe in yourself.
You’re capable, you’re skilled and smart and talented! Find your confidence within.

You have valuable skills and experience and you can put them to good use. Choose to put them to good use. Focus on what you can do (be the best at what you do best) instead of what you can’t do (change the situation).

After my company was acquired I was reassigned to a new job. I made a poor first impression on my new boss by focusing on my fears instead of my strengths. I started focusing on doing my best work instead of focusing on my fears, and I soon renewed my good reputation.

Invest in yourself.
Take advantage of opportunities to grow professionally.

Learn a new skill, network, take on a new project, get involved at work. You’ll boost your confidence, increase your value, and raise your visibility.

During my employment transitions I found a mentor, took advantage of training, joined professional associations, started this blog and improved my confidence and my skills. Taking an active role in my development made me feel empowered instead of helpless.

Take care of yourself.
You are better equipped to manage change when you’re practicing self-care.

Get enough sleep, get support from family and friends, eat well. You’ll feel far less stress if you are taking good care of your mental, emotional and physical well-being.

I notice a huge difference in how I deal with stress on days I feel well rested. Minor events that might disturb me when I’m tired do not disturb me when I’m rested. I can concentrate better, breathe easier and manage change better.

Think positive.
Stop negative thoughts and encourage positive thinking.

Your perception of your situation is vital to your success. When I was focusing on everything I didn’t like about my unwanted job change, I perceived my job to be terrible. When I choose instead to focus on everything I did like about my unwanted job change, I perceived my job to be a promising and exciting opportunity for growth.

I love your comments! What unwanted change have you experienced in the past three years? How were you affected?

Image courtesy of xcode.

10 Comments

  1. Great message!

    Change is constantly happening. Sometimes it’s a bad change, such as job loss. We can’t let it get us down! We must work through it quickly and efficiently.

    When we start thinking negative thoughts, we start to surround ourselves with negative situations. We have to learn to break these habits.

    Invest in yourself, like you said. This is crucial! From what I have learned over the last few years is that about 80% of why someone hires you revolves around your personal development. Speaking skills, communication skills, personality, politeness, drive…etc. The other 20% is simply the job skills. Anybody can be trained a new job and how to do it well, but it takes huge amounts of time to improve the personal development. Invest in yourself 😉

    Great post!

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Brock!

      I love what you said about thinking negative thoughts leading to negative situations and I couldn’t agree more! It has certainly been true in my experience. And it’s equally true that positive thoughts lead to positive situations and I love that! I can begin to change my situation and my experience by thinking more positively!

      I have also found it to be true that many employer’s hire for soft skills over hard skills, and professional development is how employees build soft skills. Any kind of professional change is a great opportunity for professional development; it’s an opportunity to make the best of change.

      Thanks again for your comment! I really appreciate your energy!

      Chrysta

  2. Hi Chrysta, my 1st time visiting your blog today! I must say that I resonate with everything that you have shared here.

    One of the key factors we can truly help people with in preparing for the turbulent road that our business endavours surely bring is – how to remain emotionally stable. It’s so easy to go into reactive mode about how we are dealing with things, especially because it seems that many things can so quickly be changing all at once.

    The best thing we can do is learn to keep our heads level so that we may be able to discern things rationally and not get sucked into the usual pitfalls which you so nicely outlined solutions for!

    Thanks for the fantastic share!

    Best regards,
    Cat Alexandra

    • Thanks for your comment, Cat!

      Emotional health and stability is so important to managing any type of life or career transition and we’ve all experienced plenty of both, I’m sure.

      When I went through my most recent career transition I didn’t handle it well at first. Fortunately I was able to turn it around and my situation is greatly improved, even though my situation has remained essentially the same. My attitude and mindset are what has changed for me.

      I’ve learned that it’s never too late to turn my day or my experience around. I can choose to adopt a different attitude and work on nurturing the attitude I want to have. And I have to say it’s a great feeling to turn a situation from bad to good.

      Thanks again for stopping by and thanks for your comment!

      Chrysta

  3. Back when I was in the corporate America I went through some of the same things. Actually, my boss of seven years decided to retire all of a sudden when he had told me when I was first hired that he would never retire. He would cut back on his hours but never retire. Because of my age, I almost didn’t accept that position because I was worried about that exact thing. He did it to me anyway and I found myself looking for employment again.

    Luckily I had a year to find another job and I went on dozens of interviews. I finally settled with a company where I knew the owner through other dealings with him and accepted that position. It turned out to be a nightmare and I came home every day praying for things to change. Once I was let go due to downsizing, I was actually thrilled.

    So being scared of the unknown venturing into the online industry since I made my choice right then and there that I wasn’t going back. I wasn’t comfortable not knowing how to do any of this but I was bound and determined to succeed. There were many nights I doubted myself and cried myself to sleep. It was much harder that I thought.

    But I continued to believe in myself and read personal development information that helped me through those times and I’m so thankful that I did. Always be prepared and stop beating yourself up over things that are out of your control. I know that’s easier said than done but it’s true. Just continue to believe that everything will fall into place as it should.

    Thank you for sharing this with us Chrysta and I hope all is well now.

    ~Adrienne

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Adrienne! You are an inspiration.

      I think many of us have been through unexpected and unwanted job changes that we struggled to manage. I hope our stories can help someone else discover solutions that I had to work out for myself.

      Have an amazing day, dear friend!

      Chrysta

  4. Hi Chrysta,
    I believe that anyone who is employed by another should be working on creating a small side business for themselves. Most people don’t earn enough money in their full time job plus we don’t know if we may be laid off or let go.

    Having a back up plan is a great idea. I highly recommend an online business, but that is just me.

    • Thanks for your comment, Justin!

      I agree it’s important to work on professional development, networking and side projects to be and stay employed and successful in today’s economy. There is just not enough job stability to rely on long term employment or the ability to get a job after being laid off. One of the many reasons I started my blog was to create professional opportunities for myself, now and in the future. Many people have a lot of great skills that could be used to earn some extra cash and create a cushion in case of job loss- from crafting to blogging and so much more!

      Thanks again for stopping by and commenting. Have an amazing day!

      Chrysta

  5. Hi Chrysta,

    I absolutely loved this post. I’ve been unemployed now for two and a half years, come this January will be 3 years. How I’ve managed to get through this period in my life you’ve covered, and then some. It can be quite disheartening when one moment you’re on top of the world, and then the next the world seems to be on top of you. You can easily lose faith in yourself and start doubting your capabilities. I truly almost did just that. Thank goodness I was able to look within myself like you stated and find the confidence to see that I have so much to offer. This was an incredible post my friend. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Deeone!

      I’m happy to hear you could relate to my post, and the solutions that have worked for me. I feel very fortunate to have tried different solutions until I found some that worked for me because the alternative is being unhappy with life and I don’t want to be unhappy if I can help it.

      You’re certainly not alone in being unemployed long term and I’m so impressed you’re continuing to find ways to be productive and grateful. You are an awesome inspiration to us all!

      Have a grateful day, my friend!

      Chrysta

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