CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE…
Change can seem daunting. This time last year (April 2020), many of us were fearful about how we
would cope, having been bounced into the biggest ever global change programme – the Covid 19
pandemic. No more face-to-face chats with colleagues and clients, no more journeys to and from
work. At first, there may have been some relief from the relentless demands of day-to-day life. But
as weeks turned to months, I often heard how much people missed the chats and off-loading to
colleagues and even the commuting, which was an opportunity to decompress, and a ‘drawbridge’
between work and home.
Now, not surprisingly those same fears are re-emerging about how we transition back to a new
normal. There is anxiety about losing some of the advantages of online working, the realities and
demands of being in a room with many others, not least of having to get dressed properly!
Since June 2020, we’ve trained over 1,000 people online; each with a story of personal change.
Every experience we have, whether good or bad can be helpful. We discover the possibilities and
resilience within ourselves we never imagined, while equally when things didn’t go well, we can now
empathise more with clients and others who have change imposed on them.
The cycle of change helps us make sense of any personal change journey. Too often change can seem
like a lonely struggle, and this is particularly so when someone in a position of power dictates how it is
to happen – planning for, rather than with.
We want to convey that going through change is a progression or journey together. That’s why using
our own experiences of lockdown can help connect and relate with others, without imposing our story
but recognising that we have a shared experience of significant disruption even if our circumstances
may be very different.
Many have realised that they were slipping into less healthy behaviours, perhaps increasing alcohol
use, or “becoming too friendly with the fridge” as one of our Lancashire friends put it. Given all we’ve
been through collectively, this is not surprising. If we feel a sense of weariness, shame or blame, it will
likely hinder us, just as it does with clients. So self-acceptance and kindness to ourselves is important as
we ease out of lockdown towards the new normal. Using the elements of the cycle of change outline
below, to identify where we are in the process is a helpful tool in the journey of change.
We justify our current behaviours in some way. Listen to our inner talk and notice what is happening
without judgement of ourselves or others.
Early stage – We acknowledge the issue to some extent – problem recognition
Middle stage – The ‘shoulding stage’ because we become more aware of what we should do, even if
we don’t want to do it
Late stage – Beginning to think more deeply about the possible change, moving from the head
(should) to the heart (desire)
We may know we want to change, but this stage helps us think what that might involve and work out
what’s realistic. Planning and preparation doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it’s enough for us to make
the decision about what the change is, what it will involve and how we’ll begin.
I think of this as the ‘little and often’ stage as usually that’s the key to real long-term change. Some
people of course might prefer the big leap – they often describe themselves as ‘all or nothing’ in their
approach to life