Like so many people, there is a lot of change in my life right now, especially at work. I would typically say that I’m someone who likes change. I like experiences of living in new places, traveling, and meeting new people because it helps me grow and gain new perspectives. Much of the change I have gone through has been self-imposed: living in foreign countries, asking for changes in my role at work, and choices to expand my family. But sometimes change is so out of left-field and so unexpected that it rocks your world. These changes are emotional, create uncertainty, and force you to look inward at your own values and goals. I thought a lot about this when my Boulder home was flooded in 2013 and here I am again reflecting on the same things in light of the changes before me now.
I’ve learned a few lessons about navigating change, and here they are. I write this both in the hopes that I can share something that would be useful to others, but also as a reminder to myself the next time life throws me a curve ball.
-Reach out: I have been blessed by the generosity of so many smart, experienced leaders that have listened to
my concerns, my emotions, and helped me think through tough decisions. Not only have I gotten great advice,
but having the opportunity to share the stress of change offers me great comfort. People don’t always know
what you are going through, so when you need help you have to ask for it.
-Change is personal: I’ve slowly come to realize that while we all go through the same phases of managing
change (think Elisabeth Kubler-Ross), we do so at our own pace. Some people grasp the reality of change
quickly and others need more time to process. Being aware of this gives me patience in dealing with others
who might be in a different stage than I am.
-Change is not linear: As we move through the process of change, it would be nice to think we are on a
linear path where we accept the change and then are ready to explore and accept how to handle it. But life is
not that neat and tidy. There are days when I think, “I’ve got this; onward and upward!” and then days where
I fall back into, “I can’t believe this is happening.” Realizing that we move forward and backward through
the process of change helps me be more patient and kind to myself.
-Take care of yourself: Change often brings a flurry of activity of things that have to get done to manage
the change and it’s easy to get thrown out of your good habits (eating well, sleeping, exercise, making time
for loved ones). I’m learning that there is no more important time to take care of myself than when big
things are happening. Being good to myself gives me strength and peace-of-mind and it has to stay a high
-Get back to your personal values. I recently was surrounded by colleagues who reminded me of the importance
of getting back to the basics. Yeah, there is a lot going on, but it’s easier to manage when I remember what
I love about what I do, the people I get to work with, and the importance of the work we do. Fun has always
been an important value to me, yet it can be hard to remember to have fun (or it even feels inappropriate)
during times of stress. But having fun is also a way of releasing stress, bringing people together, and
coping during challenging times. My message to myself: Party on Wayne!
Thanks so the many people who have lent me their ear and support as I’ve needed it and I hope one day to return the favor. Life is a journey that gives us what we need when we need it, we just have to pay attention to notice the resources we are offered.
Written by Dr. Leanne Buehler, VP Consulting Services, Newmeasures