As I am about to embark on one of the biggest changes in my life (having a baby!) it got me thinking:
Why are some changes in life scarier than others?
Contrary to what you may think, I am more scared about coming back to my work role after maternity leave than I am about having a baby. Crazy, right?
Perhaps not so crazy. A few universal lessons about change might help to explain why my feelings are perfectly reasonable. I’m going to try to remember these in the midst of all the change I will be experiencing—and maybe they can also help you with change that is going on in your life.
Change is easier when it is planned. I wanted this change and I have had nine months to get used to the fact that this baby is coming. I have adequately researched what I need to do. And while I know things don’t always go to plan, I’m as prepared as I can be and I have a reasonably clear vision of the future. I am sure the experienced mums and dads reading this are smiling—and I know the reality will be challenging—but the thought of this change isn’t scary to me.
Providing a clear vision of the future is paramount. We aren’t always given a clear picture of what life will be like after a change. A clear vision—at least as clear as is reasonable—can help temper the unknown and make people feel more relaxed about the proposed change.
Don’t expect things to be perfect. No one wants to fail—and change that brings the possibility of failure can be even more daunting. If you are the one implementing the change, remember to let people know that everything may not go right at first. Sometimes we have to fail in life to succeed.
Step into the process. It’s hard to embrace change if you feel you had no part in the process. If a change is imposed on you and things start happening quickly, you may feel as if you have no time to think. This would be scary to anyone. What can you do? Take a step back and ask yourself a question: How can I influence this situation?
Use time wisely. The right timing is important. Give people enough time to digest the change and vocalise any potential pitfalls or concerns. But don’t let it go on for so long that the change loses momentum. You want people to have enough time to get ready, but not so much time that their enthusiasm fades.
As I prepare to step into this new chapter in my life, I am aware that planning for change is very different from living through the change. Every change is different and every person has their own perspective. Remember to break down the change process and analyse each stage. I know I will—and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you when I return from maternity leave.