Q: I'm expecting a lot of professional and personal change in the next several months … and I don't like change much. What can I do to prep myself?
A: Think holistically — body, mind and spirit — and prepare at all levels to maximize your resilience.
The inner game
It may seem obvious, but in order to thrive through this time of change, you need to embrace the changes. Or at least accept them; resisting them will definitely hold you back.
If you're struggling with acceptance, think about this: What's the worst thing that could happen? And consider how likely the worst case is likely to be. If you can take it to the ludicrous extreme, you might get a good laugh, which is always helpful! Also, look back at past changes you've experienced, and focus on understanding the benefits that have resulted from those changes.
Now do some self-assessment on your pre-change condition. Start by giving yourself a grade on your physical well-being. Do you eat well, get enough rest, stay active? How about your mental environment? Do you stay challenged and engaged? Emotionally and spiritually, how satisfying is your life? Keeping all of these at least good enough will keep you in balance.
Look at your external support system, and consider whether it feels like people have your back, or whether you feel isolated within the changes that are going to occur.
The outer game
Build a resilience plan, focusing most on the places where you're normally less attentive, and identifying the activities you normally like to do in those areas. Figure out what could keep you from doing them, and come up with some mitigation strategies. For example, maybe you're good at getting enough rest but turn into a slug when you're stressed. In your plan to stay active, you might decide that you feel good if you do something three times a week, and prefer going for walks or getting to the gym. Maybe feeling tired or stressed would keep you from doing this, and having a gym buddy would help you stay on track.
Reach out to people. Let your friends and family help keep you balanced. If your imagination is running wild about how bad the changes will be, ask for reality checks.
Think about other things. Even in the midst of change, there is room to distract yourself by doing things for no reason other than fun. Or challenge yourself a little to learn something new, again, just to keep from obsessing over the changes you're facing.
Notice the positives of the change. Maybe you never imagined your new boss, new role or new organization structure could be so good. Maybe you never dreamed marriage or parenthood could be so rewarding. Take the time to appreciate whatever is happening in your life.
And give yourself a pat on the back when you keep an even keel. It really isn't easy to override your core tendencies and create a new mind-set, so reward yourself when you succeed, and forgive yourself if you slip.
The last word
Change can be hard, but it can also be exhilarating if you keep a positive focus.
What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, a credentialed coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.