The Yo-Yo of Change (or Hanging by a String….)

I have been trying to write a blog post for two weeks now. I have literally started four posts only to abandon them after being stricken with writer’s block, either based on my fear of boring my readers or because I myself was completely bored by my subject matter.

Last week, I forced myself to create a communications plan since as a recovering communications professional, I felt it was something I “should” do. I thought if I had a plan, I would then feel compelled to write and accountable to follow the deadlines. But, in the words of one of my leadership teachers that has proven to be a FLUNKER!

So I took a step back and asked myself today the question I ask any time I feel stuck. “Why is this so hard?” You see, I learned long ago that anytime I find myself either power through something or procrastinating doing it, there’s either something in the way or something missing. So I stopped trying and started asking…Once my braincells settled down (they all like to compete to have the right answer) the truth emerged.

CHANGE IS HARD.  

No matter if the change is sudden and done TO you, or whether it is something you choose, as is the case with me and my career change, it’s still hard. In the course I took on Leading Organizational Change, a model was shared with us which has stuck in my mind as I have navigated this change of mine.

It was created in the 1970s by Hopson and Adams and looks like this:

The numbers represent stages in the change process.

  1. Immobilization – People are overwhelmed
  2. Denial – People have false hope that the pain of the change is “over”
  3. Depression and anger – People experience a sense of loss
  4. Letting go – People accept that the old ways have come to an end
  5. Testing – People try out the new system and look for new ways to be
  6. Search for Meaning – People try to understand and merge their experience of the past with the current situation
  7. Internalizing – People accept the new reality

It’s important to note that the stages in the change process are not linear. People will often shift back and forth, especially during the early stages. You might notice that the stages are strikingly similar to the stages of grief written about by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her book on death and dying. And it’s true, change of any kind is like a kind of death. The old way is no more and the new way is frightening.

I am writing this from somewhere between stages 1 and 4. It depends on the moment how I am feeling. There are days I regress to being overwhelmed and immobilized. There are days I feel like I can take on the world. There are days I am just TIRED. There are days I am angry because everyone wants to tell me how to do things or because things just aren’t going my way. And there are days when I see, just out of the corner of my eye, that what I have done up until now is over.

Man.  CHANGE IS HARD. But it’s worth it. Every time I go through a major change, it makes me appreciate the process even more. After all what kind of change agent would I be for my clients if I had never navigated the waves of change myself?

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