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How to embrace changes for a positive future

When you hear the word ‘change’, many of us are inclined to resist. But it is inevitable – and it’s all about finding your best fit to adapt.

A man leans against a broad windowsill overlooking a city, being thoughtful about change.

Change is ever-present. From the boardroom to our bedside tables, we are constantly bombarded with messages about change being necessary to survive in business and in life. Our workspaces have to change to remain competitive, and by god, if we are comfortable, we must not be reaching our full potential – evolve or suffer the consequences. 

However, we often also discuss change in terms of discomfort and suffering. 

Quotes attributed to people like Tony Robbins, Terry Crews, and Jillian Michaels talk about getting out of your comfort zone, being uncomfortable, disruption, and fear. Change frequently sounds terrible. 

People resist change for multiple reasons. Harvard Business Review put together a simple, straightforward the change likely influences the perspective on the change. 

But what about when we want or feel we need to change? In hopes of mitigating or embracing the discomfort often associated with change, an entire genre of change management books exists to make change less overwhelming. Many of these subscribe to focusing on small changes and a man-in-the-mirror mentality that prioritizes self-change instead of large-scale organizational or maximum-effort change. 

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So, how do you view change? Do you see it as inevitable and uncomfortable? Is it something you choose or is forced upon you? Do you consider it an opportunity to achieve a goal, become a better version of yourself, or contribute to a greater good? How do you view the risk of changing vs. not changing? 

How much of the perception of change is related to the feeling that we have to change because of external expectations, whether those expectations are defined by the boss or by society?

What do you do if you want to change while simultaneously feeling that the process of change is tedious and really does suck sometimes? 

Sarah Carter, in her book All About Change discusses decision-making and engaging change with a focus on what you want your living room to look like when you are 80. This approach requires self-awareness, defined values, and a willingness to make decisions based on the image of your living room or life at 80. What do you want on your walls? Does the quality of your furniture matter? How do your decisions now contribute to creating that space, that life? 

Do you want to wait until you are 80 to make that a reality? 

My dream space includes oversized, cozy furniture covered in pillows, throw blankets, and t-shirt quilts. The walls are covered in vacation photos, theatre and concert posters, artwork, and random things that remind me of all the life I have experienced and inspire me to do things that will end up on the walls. I want doors that open to beautiful outdoor space that I can enjoy comfortably. I want an office space with a bookshelf wall, my degrees on the wall, the lovely painting of children reading from Okinawa, and my vision boards that reflect my achievements in my professional spaces. 

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I am well on my way. So, what had to change, and what was that like? 

I had to get very real about my values and figure out what I was willing to do to be authentic. Period. I am achievement and experience-driven. I love accomplishing big goals. I ran a marathon not to be healthy but to be able to say I did it. While earning a doctorate will contribute to my professional goals, it will also come with the title of doctor. 

These admissions may be off-putting to some, but they are absolutely critical to understanding how I can implement change and if implementing change is even necessary. 

  1. Ensure a change is aligned with values and goals
    1. Know what you will and will not compromise
  2. Articulate how the change is aligned with your values and goals
    1. Are you going to have to sacrifice something like balance in the short term to create opportunities for long-term balance
  3. Define the end goal – Determine if the change is short or long term
  4. Create clear and manageable steps to integrate the change
    1. Kendra Adachi’s The Lazy Genius Way and James Clear’s Atomic Habits are offer interesting approaches that may work for you
      1. Kendra Adachi focuses on removing friction
      2. James Clear focuses on tiny changes
        1.  I personally connected more with Adachi. I found Clear frustrating because it would not provide results in a manner aligned with who I am as a person. There is no singular way to approach this. 
  5. Find an accountability strategy
    1. Find a partner
    2. Create a calendar
    3. Make a list
  6. Celebrate successes
    1. Create rewards
    2. Share with others
  7. Don’t be afraid to adapt 

Some of this may seem simplistic, but in my experience simple works. When considering change, it is critical to focus on what you can control. Changes may seem small and simple, but as you implement and integrate change the impacts will often ripple beyond yourself. 

Steve Jobs said, “Things don’t have to change the world to be important.” When we commit to changing ourselves, we are hopefully making changes for the better, and these changes almost always impact others. They may inspire others or make processes more efficient. The change does not have be huge to be meaningful.

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Kaelin Peterson has a B.A. in Political Science, an MBA, and is currently pursuing an EdD in Performance Improvement Leadership. She currently works as faculty for a non-traditional university focusing on traditionally underserved student populations while also volunteering with a focus on leadership development, values-based leadership, and change management. When not working or doing school work, Kaelin enjoys discovering new foods, quiet spaces, and spending time with her husband and dog.


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