“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Sometimes that seems true, but particularly at work, it can feel more like “the more things change, the more stressed I am.”
Whether it’s a reorganization, a shift in how things are done at work, or a new colleague, facing change can bring discomfort, anxiety, and full-on fear. What if we’re not as happy, successful, or capable? It’s the unknown, and navigating it can be a bumpy path.
A common default when it comes to handling a change we either don’t want or we fear is resistance. We may be determined to stick to the familiar, complain, and be reluctant to try out the change. But, this approach does little to help us cope and adjust and can keep negative feelings and stress swirling.
So, what can we do instead? Following are some tips to think about when it comes to adapting to change at work:
If the decision is made and the change is happening, you’re better off thinking about the present and future rather than the past.
Can you do something to learn more and possibly help yourself and others cope? Maybe you could ask questions to clarify some doubts or offer to be part of a group that puts together a plan for the change. It may not make your anxiety magically disappear, but it can help you feel a bit more in control.
Keep an open mind.
Sure you may feel understandably unsure or uneasy, but, as they say, “fake it until you make it.” Be flexible and give the change a try — you might be surprised at how things go. And if it doesn’t go so well, at least you can talk about that from experience.
Allow yourself an adjustment period and don’t be discouraged by some growing pains — it will take time to settle into a new way of doing things.
Talk to others about your needs and thoughts, whether it’s connecting with colleagues or seeking out professional supports if you’re really feeling overwhelmed and out of control. It’s OK to need help with adjusting. Venting can be helpful to get negative feelings out, but make sure you also focus on moving forward and coping in positive ways.
During and after the change, take time to think about how things are going. You may have lost something due to the change, but have you also gained something? Taking time to reflect can help us identify what we need to cope or important conversations we need to have rather than having emotional reactions that may not be constructive.