Change isn’t necessarily hard. That might sound counter to common knowledge because we’ve all experienced change that feels grueling. Even changes that are well-conceived strategic initiatives are met with opposition and resistance, resulting in protracted implementation phases. The pain point in change is usually not in accepting the new, but in letting go of the old. No matter the change, whether adapting to a new process, taking on a new responsibility, or roughing it through yet another reorganization, we all have routines and identities that are disrupted by the change. Even positive changes, like accepting a promotion, require us to let go of habits and customs that we have developed as part of our role. It might be easy to learn a new process or skill, but it’s much harder to shift from feeling like an expert to feeling like a novice, or shift from feeling eager to contribute to the team to being relied on as the team leader. Moving through change means bringing proper closure to our old identities and roles. A simple process can help you shift through a challenging change.
1. Review what you are holding onto. Pay attention to what you like about how things were before. What was working well already, before the change?
2. Retain and document the practices or values to carry over as you shift into a new role or process. What part of your identity do you want to retain as you enter a new way of being?
3. Release what you want to permanently let go of. Not all behaviors or attitudes will serve you as effectively after the change than before it.
4. Ritualize the transition. Ceremony is an important feature of smooth transitions. How will you mark your departure from where you were to where you are going?