Crushing Fear of Change
The concept of change can be daunting, you may feel like a fish out of water during the transition and it might cause a lot of discomfort and stress. Rest assured, change does not need to be so dramatic! It is one of those things that can be quite enjoyable once you shift your mindset a little to the positive spectrum.
It is February, a month into the goals you had set for the year, and you realize few tweaks are needed to complete those ambitious goals you had set for yourself. Maybe you need to tweak small habits, your time schedule, how you organize your tasks, or maybe you are faced with bigger changes such as a physical relocation, a career change, a start or an end to a relationship.
Whatever the change is, big or small, there is absolutely no need to panic. Most people fear change because they feel they need to jump straight into the new status. They do not realize there are phases to a successful change.
There are many models for change management depending on how significant the change is and the environment in which it is implemented. Common models are: ADKAR, Kotter’s 8-Step, McKinsey 7-S, Deming Cycle (PDCA), and Lewin’s Change Management Model. In this blog, I will discuss the simplest of them all, the Bridges’ Transition Model by William Bridges.
The reason I pick this model is because it is more focused on the “transition” to a change, taking into consideration people’s emotions rather than the strategy and tactics for the change.
Bridges Transition Model has three steps to it.
Step one is dealing with The Ending. Before we take any steps towards embracing a change we must deal with current realities, and allow sufficient time to let go of the way things are. Understanding the “why” behind the change is critical in this stage. If there is no good reason for change then why change? Change must be for the better, it should make you feel it’s the right thing to do.
What follows is The Neutral Zone, where you start planning for the change by setting smaller goals and celebrating quick wins. There might be a lot of confusion and questioning through this stage as you struggle to adapt to the change. It might be uncomfortable and you might even doubt the reason for change. Therefore, it is important to stay on track, remember the reason for change, and address any morale issues.
The third and final step in Bridges Model is The New Beginning. This is when you fully embrace the change and become productive in its new context. It is important to keep the momentum going, have an active communication and learn from the process.
A real-life example
Let’s take the Bridges Model through one of the change examples I mentioned earlier. Let’s use the example of dealing with a physical relocation, something I am very familiar with. Say, your job requires you to relocate to a new country! (a new city or State will be too easy).
During the Ending stage, you would take actions to acknowledge the reality of the relocation and communicating it to your loved ones. You might want to set a to-do-list in preparation for your departure, and start researching requirements for living abroad.
During the Neutral Zone, you start taking small steps towards the relocation, for instance, terminating your home lease, gym membership, dealing with your car …etc. You might consider opening a bank account in the new country and transferring money, applying for visas and work permits as needed, shopping for a new climate …etc. As you can imagine, this phase can be surrounded with chaos and frustrations as you make your transition from the old to the new.
Finally, the New Beginning happens when you land in the new country, become accustomed to your new lifestyle, understand the culture, know your surroundings, things to do and establish new relationships.
Change is never easy, even for those who have undergone many changes in their lives. Anyone who says otherwise is not being honest. But there is no reason for change to be daunting or scary. It boils down to the state of mind you choose to adopt, and your commitment to a model to structure your transition.
I hope this blog tackles some of the fears for change, and helps you look at change in a different light.