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Change begins with me – life is change.

Change is all around us every minute of our day – the seasons change, the trees change and even the weather changes constantly. Especially if you live in Melbourne, we can have four seasons in one day. People change and their moods change. Your daily cravings change; what you ate for dinner last night is not necessary what you want for tonight. Your workload changes from day to day. Your desires change, what you really liked today you may just hate tomorrow. Change is inevitable and change is necessary for us to grow.

If nothing ever changed there would be no butterflies; just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly. There is no growth without change and there is no world without change.

Some of us thrive on change, to the point where they are constantly seeking change. Some of us despise change and avoid it like the plague; then there are some of us that are just not fussed about change. It’s fair to say that some of us are ready for change and some of us are not. It is on an individual basis.

To better understand the concept, let’s take a closer look at what change actually is.

What is Change?

Change is about moving from the current – something that is known and familiar to moving away from what is familiar to something that is new and unfamiliar.

Familiarity is what our unconscious mind is seeking out all the time to keep us safe, alive and to keep us in the past. We are creature of habit and we find comfort in regularity. Our unconscious mind will always gravitate to what is now, not necessarily what is best for you. Our mind is seeking comfort and is afraid of discomfort or change.

Therefore our unconscious mind finds the unknown scary because it can’t calculate a known outcome with an unknown variable. This is why people tend to repeat behaviours that they know – 95% of our behaviours and decisions are controlled by the unconscious mind.

This is why, when creating change, we must override the mind. To create change we must allow for an unknown variable – something different that the mind is not yet aware of; as the saying goes – you don’t know what you don’t know. The mind knows everything that it knows but it doesn’t know everything that is possible.

Why Are We Afraid of Change?

The number one aspect that most people fear or worry about when it comes to change is the loss of something. A loss of

  • Job
  • Autonomy
  • Competence
  • Remuneration
  • Responsibilities
  • Security
  • Purpose
  • Identity
  • Relationships with people
  • Certainty
  • Connections
  • Hours
  • Location

And… then of course are their expectations of an outcome. When you set expectations, they are merely your expectations; when you have expectations they lead to disappointment and pain.

Why Do We React Differently to Change?

Now that we have greater insight into why we fear change, let’s have a look at why people react differently to change. They are:

  • Gut instincts
  • Habits
  • Values
  • Beliefs
  • Experience

All of the above are the reactions that are driven by the unconscious mind. Your unconscious mind is always here to protect you. Think about a time when you were affected by change. How did you feel? How did you respond? And… how different is the change when you decide to make that change compared to the change that was imposed on you?

Human nature tends to rebel against supreme authority even though we desire boundaries – we do not like to be told what to do and how to do it. So we rebel. Imposed change makes you feel like you have a loss of control and when the change is all of a sudden with no time to digest the information, naturally we will resist.

The one thing you have control over is how your react to the change!

Factors that can influence how we react to change are:

  • How well we understand the WHY
  • Our previous experience to change
  • Levels of trust in the individual or organisation
  • How many times we have gone through change

Many organisations and individuals are great at telling us what the change is and how we are going to do it, but they don’t quite get to the WHY. The unconscious motivator of all aspects of life is getting to the root cause that is the WHY.

How Do You Deal with Negative Responses to Change?

Change may sometimes come with critical feedback or resistant individuals. You don’t need to worry; there is a solution at hand.

When a group or an individual undergoes change, it is not the organisation that changes but the behaviour of the individuals. Understanding change at an individual level is essential to achieve any large scale of change.

We know that change is inevitable and that we all go about change in a different manner. However, we need to focus on the individual transaction to the change. This means that change is an external event – out with the old and in with something new. Transition, nevertheless, is an internal process – an emotional process that one goes through when dealing with external change.

That right there is the secret to working through change; the way we manage the transition is even more important than the specific change itself.

How do we do it?

  • Involve your team on projects – have change agents
  • Get to understand where they are at with the change – what are their fears and what do they worry about
  • Constant communication even if you don’t have all the answers or information
  • Plan properly – focusing on what you can control will help you and your team stay positive. Instead of keeping them stuck, gossiping and dropping in productivity by focusing on what they have no control over, you will help the team move towards change.

We all have conscious free will and choice. It’s amazing – the magical things that happen when you begin to pay attention to you. The great news is that you can change your unconscious mind by asking one simple question – What else is possible for me that I have never yet considered?

The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

– Socrates