Leadership Solutions from Read Solutions Group: Adapting to Change

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Adapting to Change

An earlier blog was about “Decide to Change”, yet often change is thrust upon you. It could be a reassignment, promotion, family/life event, company sale, accident, or health crisis. Unless the event is so dramatic that you are stopped in your tracks, your brain will try to force-fit habitual thoughts, actions, perceptions and decision-making approaches to the new situation.

In moving out of your comfort zone, decision-making ability tends to suffer. Do I do this or do that? I’m being asked to do something that I don’t want to do. I’m able to operate more independently, but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with it.

A quick trick to help you adapt is to create some new rules. Your strengths haven’t changed. Your values haven’t changed. If you can create a set of rules around what to do, and what not to do, you will move more quickly back to a steady state, and stay true to your strengths and values.

For example, early in the development of my business, opportunities were being presented that didn’t feel right, yet I was reluctant to turn anything away. Instead, I wasted energy thinking about and talking about the opportunities, but not committing to making them a reality. A set of criteria for evaluating opportunities helped me make clear decisions about the ones that didn’t feel right, and released me to pursue those that did. Think about the criteria in the form of an open-ended statement. Examples might be:
  • I will make decisions without consulting my manager when ...
  • I will set non-negotiable boundaries with my teenagers when ....
  • I will go to networking events when ...
  • I will pursue new job options when ...
  • I will leave this job when ....
Having the criteria in place relieves the burden of guilt, uncertainty and discomfort. Having the criteria in place does not lock you in; rather it may lead you to a place where you need to re-evaluate your criteria, add a new one, or make a decision. In any event, by giving yourself rules on when to act or not, you have given yourself additional mental energy for creating the new habits of thought and action needed in the change.

Share with us where you have found criteria helpful in your life.

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