Dealing with change comes naturally with every phase of life. You (and your parents) faced a significant change when you went to Kindergarten or College. In adulthood, you deal with change as you move towns, switch jobs, start a family, or move in with a loved one. Everyone knows the saying—change is the only thing that is constant in life.
While the Covid-19 pandemic was an abrupt change, “little” changes continue to happen—return to in-person work delayed, lockdowns being lifted and then being put back in place, school and university plans changed frequently, and not to mention change people may have going on in their personal lives—necessary moves, a change in family and friend relationships, etc.
The simple solution to managing change would be to “Go with the flow.” However, that’s a lot easier said than done. Here are some practical tips to help you adapt to change when “Going with the flow” is difficult.
Focus On What You Can Control
You can’t control what is causing the change, but you have to accept it. However, chances are even if it’s a significant change in your life—say moving, you can control your reaction to the change and focus on something constant. For example, if you are a runner and you are moving to a new location, scoop out all of the good running spots using trail apps and Google maps before moving. That way, when you arrive, on the first or second day, you can immediately go on a run and feel like your usual self. Starting a new job or going remote? Keep your morning routine the same, right down to when you would get in the car to commute. By focusing on the little things that you can control, you can ease the burden of the significant change.
Sometimes, just talking it out helps. Stay connected with your family and friends. Since, for many of us, this isn’t possible in the current environment, schedule Zoom or Facetime meet-ups with your loved ones. During these convos, make sure to discuss topics that will get your mind off the change and, if they are a close relationship, talk about the big change itself. All the little things that are bothering you and making you upset aren’t so bad when looking at them from the bird’s eye view your friend sees them as. This will help you put the change in perspective and potentially reassure you quite a bit.
If you are experiencing a big change in the workplace—a pushback in office start dates, a shift to remote work permanently, etc., stay connected with your co-workers. Quite a few of them likely share the same feelings, and it will help you feel less alone when you can express your concerns with people who understand.
Tap Into Your Empathetic Qualities
Everyone possesses some level of empathy. If you are a manager, it is imperative to tap into your empathy. You may know that your employee is experiencing a big change in their lives, but you don’t know all the little details. Your best bet is to accept that you don’t know what you don’t know and be as flexible as possible. Let your employee know that you acknowledge their change and are happy to be as accommodating as possible in the work environment. (Hint: even if you don’t know of a change, flexibility and empathy is always a good idea). If you are a team member, remember that your fellow employees may be going through different changes themselves. If you don’t have kids or live with family, be empathetic towards your fellow team members who may be managing remote learning on top of other things. If you do have kids or live with family, be understanding towards your fellow team members who are feeling a little lonely if they are missing out on social opportunities that help them feel grounded.
Managing change can take up quite a bit of mental energy and headspace. It is crucial to maintain your outlets for coping with that change by drawing boundaries. If you are working from home or starting a new job, remember that you don’t need to prove yourself as a new employee by working more hours than asked, and you don’t need to work more just because you no longer commute. Attempt to start and end your day at the same time. Don’t feel guilty about taking little breaks throughout the day, especially because those breaks are likely to recharge you and help you come back to your work stronger. After drawing boundaries at work, the life part becomes much easier—and you can spend adequate time socializing, exercising, reading, or doing other things you enjoy.
Focus On The Present
Lastly, for many people, when change comes, they tend to fixate on the future. Focus on where you are right now, and take it one day at a time, especially if you are in a new place or position. You can create new routines; you can make new plans. However, you can never get back the time you spent worrying about the future.
Although many of us secretly hoped that when the calendar flipped to 2021, the chaotic problems of 2020 would be left behind, we know that isn’t true. Since change is the one constant thing, shift your focus to adapting and managing it to keep yourself healthy and happy.