Why you need to get comfortable with change.

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I hate to break it to you but you’re getting old.

Ok, ok… me too!

I don’t like to think about it and most people I know are too nice to say anything.  Most people except for my kids, that is.  

Yes, those babies whose diapers I changed in the wee hours of the night just a few years ago have realized I’m never going to play in the National Hockey League or face Federer on the ATP tour.  

Now, they not only remind me of change by how they are growing and acquiring new skills but also by ribbing me about my lack of ability on the ice or the tennis court. What happened to respect for your elders, anyway?

They are my walking and talking reminders about how constant change is, and that’s probably good for me.   

It’s probably good to be reminded that we are not the same as we once were; that change is always there despite our intense desire to ignore it

Most of us are guilty of trying to hold on to the way things are for as long as possible, when what we need to do is to keep up with change.

 

We try to fool ourselves into thinking things aren’t changing.

 

Wouldn’t it be great if you lived in an anti-gravity bubble without mirrors?

It could almost fool you into thinking you weren’t changing.  You wouldn’t feel or see the effects of gravity on your body. You wouldn’t notice the new grey hair that showed up yesterday.

We can’t do that, but we tend to do a lot of things that make it seem like things aren’t changing.

Traditions are a good example.  When is the last time you added new items to your boxes of holiday decorations? You pull them out every year and, lo and behold, your house looks the same as last year (or the year before, or the year before that).

Some people keep their kids’ rooms exactly the same as they were, long after their children have moved out.  The room is frozen in time, almost.   (Ok, maybe that is out of necessity these days for Millenials)

The worst of us ignore the ever-changing world of fashion, and go out into the world looking like a nineties music video.  (I could be referring to mostly the males of our species).

Then there are the face-lifts, tummy tucks, etc.  Gee! Do we hate change!

We do the same things at work.  Ignoring updating the website, our product line, our systems and processes.  Why? Because we think they’re all working just fine. After all we just got some of them in shape a few months ago.  Why would we need to change?

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But time has a wonderful way (or awful way - depending on your perspective) of letting us know that change will happen whether we like it or not.

Just look at businesses like Kodak or RIM. Once, they were magnificent examples of innovation. They let change pass them by while they weren’t paying attention.

 

 

When you don’t keep up with change, it hurts.

 

I have been a fan of workout guru Tony Horton for several years.  

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Sucked in by a late night infomercial, I got started with his video P90X over 10 years ago.  Knowing that this particular program was going to be a bear, I tried to get in good enough shape just so I could do the workout plan. (It’s a 90-day home program using cross training and periodization along with a nutritional diet plan).

Once I got started, I found it to be the hardest home workout I’d ever done. I had never been so sore in my life during that first week.  Sitting down and getting up were painful, which made life very difficult.

I hobbled around for a few days but stuck with it. Eventually the soreness subsided and I even got some pretty good results (I’m sure you’re thankful I have no pics that I’ll share).  

I even did a couple more rounds of it but staying on diet is always the hardest part for me. (Perhaps you’ll recall my post about the great pizza adventure?)

Wanting to follow up on the success of P90X, Tony then released P90X2 and then P90X3.  P90X3 was great example of adapting to change.  He listened to his client base and created a version that took half the time of the original P90x but claimed to give similar results.

 Pizza by the metre -  Vico Equense, Italy

Pizza by the metre - Vico Equense, Italy

It’s been my go-to workout for several years now, mostly because it’s only 30 minutes long and it does the job. (But I still eat too much pizza)  

Perhaps like many of you, I go through periods of slacking off and then ramping it back up again. And it’s in those periods of slacking off that I begin to fool myself into thinking that change isn’t happening.

 

 

Those times are the ones when I think, “Hey, I’m in good shape now so I can just take a little break for a while.   I feel good, my clothes are fitting well and I’m ready to be a model in a beer commercial.  (Ok, maybe not quite that far!)

But after an undetermined period of time (maybe after a summer spent on patios), I put something on that fits a little tighter than usual and I realize it’s been a while since I have seen my friend Tony. So I pop in a familiar DVD.

But now, instead of keeping up with Tony’s seemingly effortless moves, I am paying more attention to the person he calls “the modifier” (i.e. the person who does a simpler / easier version of the exercises – the way a “newbie” might need to do them).

But wait!  I’m no “newbie”. Tony and I go way back.

But it’s happened. Time and change have worked their magic on me.  The people on those videos haven’t changed. They are frozen in time in peak shape. I, on the other hand, have been reminded the hard way that change is constant, and you can’t ever stop if you want to keep up with it.

 

 

How to not fall prey to change

 

So that’s it when it comes to change.

You can’t take your eye off the ball.  You have to accept that it’s happening all the time.

If you stop for a moment and pretend that things are not changing around you (which we all love to do), then you fall behind.   And it gets a little harder to get back to where you were. It doesn’t mean it can’t be done but damn, it can be hard.

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It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about keeping up with your workouts or about something you’re trying to accomplish at work.  You can never just sit back and relax, thinking that things won’t change.  

 

 

 

But look at it this way - thinking about change could be fun.

 

One way to be more accepting of change is to spend a little time imagining.  

 

 

Think of your life or your job and ask yourself a few questions:

  • What are some things that would make it better?

  • What could change in your life or your work without you doing anything?  

  • What benefits would come from change?

  • If you froze yourself in time, what would be changing around you?  

  • What effect would those changes have?

  • What would you have to do to make some changes?

 

Thinking like this is actually preparing you for change and that’s good, because half the problem in dealing with change is that we plain ignore that it’s happening.

I’m not saying making changes or dealing with change is easy. I know it’s hard.  But ignoring it is not going to get you anywhere.

There are other ways to deal with change and I have written about them in these posts.

One way is by building up your resilience, which I talk about in my post: How to be more resilient to change

Another way is by realizing that even if things are changing, you have anchors you can hang onto. You can read about that in this post:  what you need to do to win at change

Or if you’re a leader and you need to lead your employees through it, this post will help: Help your employees through change

So now that I am finished this post, I look around my office and it seems that not much has changed. But once I get up, step outside, and take a look around, I bet I’ll find something.

If all else fails, I have my kids to remind me.

As always, I welcome your comments about how you deal with the changes in your life.