If There's One Thing You Can Count On, It's Change

Life has a way of making sure you don't get too comfortable - especially in your work. Just when you think you have your job all figured out and arranged to your liking, along comes change. Changes such as mergers, downsizing, a new boss, a new workplace and even hoped-for changes, such as a promotion, bring a bewildering combination of stress, uncertainty and opportunity.

The Stages of Change

The process of change has definite stages - a beginning, a transition and a completion. The process has been likened to a home remodeling job:

  • The beginning. After long agonizing, you make the decision to tear out the first section of wall. Or perhaps the decision was made for you against your will by a fire, earthquake or other disaster.
  • The transition. In the midst of change, all is chaos. The old no longer exists, but the new has not yet been built. You struggle to maintain a normal life, and you work overtime to get the remodeling done. You can't imagine that you will ever finish. This is the most difficult stage of change.
  • The completion. At long last you can enjoy your completed home, remodeled to meet your changing needs.

Change at Work

When you're confronted with change at work, take it one step at a time. The change may be one you hoped for, or it may be one you have long dreaded. Either way, change can bring stress, uncertainty, even grief. Gather information from newspapers and industry magazines on whatever it is you're going through. Talk to others who may have been through the same process. But there's no need for you to get it all figured out right away. Accept that you may go through a period of uncertainty. And remember, others have survived this process.

Attitude Is Important

Whether or not you desired a change at work, your attitude may determine how you weather it. If possible, get on the bandwagon early and support the change in your office. Resistance only causes pain and impedes the process. Work with your boss and other employees to understand the change more clearly. How can you make things move ahead more smoothly? Your positive attitude may make the change easier not only for you but for those you work with.

What Not to Do

Some people try to cope with change by drinking more coffee or alcohol, by smoking more or by using drugs. In the long run, this only increases your stress level and makes the adjustment even more difficult.

Where to Go from Here

Remember that change and growth go hand in hand. Once the change is in effect, try to discover its positive effects on your life. Perhaps it taught you patience and flexibility. Perhaps it brought you an opportunity to learn new skills. Or perhaps you welcomed the support that your coworkers showed you.

At a certain point the change should come to completion. If you feel you haven't reached this point - that you are still having trouble adjusting to the change after two or three months - seek counseling or outside support. Talk to your supervisor, personnel department, Employee Assistance Program, friends or family members. Change may be difficult, but you don't have to go through it alone.

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