Change is Hard
I have been wanting to burst into print on this topic for a while but, as I often do, have been overthinking it. Is it appropriate? Is it positive? Is it too cynical? And, is it too blunt? It may be all those things, but the reason I want to share my thoughts, is because they are real, honest and my gut tells me many people and businesses are feeling the same. Change is hard. So, after a whole of “should I, shouldn’t I”, here it goes.
Life has been and still is a rollercoaster and, anyone who says it’s not is either superhuman or lying! The world really is crazy right now. One minute it is business as usual and overnight we find ourselves surrounded by fear, uncertainty, unrest and escalating levels of stress and anxiety. Our professional and personal lives are affected as are the lives of everyone around us.
Theory vs Reality
In theory, we understand and can see the opportunities that have been presented. The notion of this being a great chance to finally make those ‘niggly’ changes, makes complete sense. When we read or hear the suggestion to reach out for support we agree. The idea of balancing speed and considered thought as we navigate our way forward, is met with furious nods of agreement.
However, despite this, our heads are spinning. What if I get it wrong? I might give a competitor information or support that will help them and therefore disadvantage me in this ‘dog eat dog’ competitive environment? I want to move forward and embrace the theory of change and what needs to be done, but I am second guessing my gut AND just do not know where to start. Sound familiar?
The Contradiction is Real
This fear and stress can be paralysing so I thought it might help if I share my experience and what I have done (and am doing), to move forward.
The picture above is me – often! Feeling frustrated, wanting to scream and definitely fragile – that feeling that if someone says the wrong thing at the wrong time, you might just explode!
- I know exactly what I need to be doing, but when things are outside my comfort zone (which many things are at the moment), I tend to make excuses, 2nd guess myself and generally procrastinate.
- I feel a contradiction around marketing my business – on one hand, this is exactly the time that many businesses and leaders could use the support of my experience and my unique no BS approach to planning. However, on the other hand, I feel somewhat uncomfortable in promoting my services for fear of seeming opportunistic. My challenge has been working out how to “show up”, be accessible, top of mind and true to my brand, should people need the support.
- Like many of us, the household dynamic has changed. My husband and I both working from home, kids until a few weeks ago were not at school and zoom meeting and screens in every room. We were under each others feet…all the time!
- Balancing the frustration of all this with worrying that everyone else is OK. How are they coping with the isolation, home schooling, working from home, change in or lack of routine?
- Not socialising like I used to – missing those precious interactions with friends!
All this thrown into one melting pot has been challenging and made it difficult to get momentum.
“Persistence is everything. I make mistakes, slip into procrastination mode, and disappoint myself BUT I keep going. When you mess up, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going”
How to Break the Rut?
- Small chunks of focussed time. If I am having one of those days, I decide to commit to an hour of focus – calls, email followups, proposal writing etc. If I find I am gathering momentum, I stretch that to 2 hours etc. If not, I take Maggie (our gorgeous dog) for a walk or do a quick 30min workout in the back yard. Then back to work for another hour.
- Compartmentalising my head has been a critical skill to learn and sometimes one compartment needs a little more attention than another. Warning – make sure that any priority you give time to is real and not an excuse or avoidance tactic!
- Use a diary. Plan and diarise as much as possible – work, training, running the kids around, errands etc. The blend of work and home is greater than it has ever been so we might as well acknowledge that and plan the blend as much as possible to remain focussed and on task.
- Identify what the most important things are ie the ones that will have the biggest impact and even if they are the hardest on your list (which they probably will be), commit to pushing yourself to action.
- Decide you will take action.
- Do you know what that action looks like for the issue on the top of your list? Can you articulate what you need to do? In my experience you probably do, but sometimes it is easier (and an excellent avoidance tactic), to justify in-action with, “I don’t know what I need to do” or “I am working through the options”. Get clear on exactly what action you need to take and the outcome you expect from taking it ie be clear on why! Write it down.
- Count backwards from 5 and then take action! Anyone know Mel Robbins’ iconic book, “The 5 Second Rule”? Check the book out if you want and all the info on the neuroscience behind it, but in a nutshell, it works based on a commitment to a few simple steps :
- actually count 5,4,3,2,1 – the counting focuses you on the action and not the worry of doing it AND,
- when you hit 1, you have to push yourself to act…..You will never ever feel like doing this hard stuff but the result of doing it, will motivate you to action over and over.
- “You have a 5 second window to move from idea to action before your brain sabotage’s you”. Mel Robbins The Five Second Rule.
- Another great book that I am half way through – Atomic Habits by James Clear. Even the first 50 pages or so was so impactful – simple and practical tip on breaking bad habits and starting new ones. Will save more detail on this for another time but thought it worth mentioning as it has already started to help me.
- I have learnt to be nice to myself. Yes, I still beat myself up (but less than I used to), but I have also learnt the benefits fo giving myself a bit of space – if my head is not in it, I walk away. It will still be there in an hour, a day, or a few days.
- Awareness – name it and own it. We all have “our thing” – our sticking point and this will always be our achilles heel. Being aware, is a huge step forward in managing through and around it.
- Persistence is everything. I make mistakes, I slip into procrastination, I disappoint myself BUT I keep going. If you mess up, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going.
What is the worst thing that can happen?
Firstly, you know your business better than anyone. The first thing is to trust your gut – you know what is needed. Next, build some clear actions and milestones around your decisions. If you then take small considered steps, any mistake you make will not be catastrophic.
Ask yourself, what is the worst thing that can happen and how easy is it to fix? Most of the time, you will find the answer reassuring. That perspective alone has helped me to act on many occasions.
If the answer does prove to be too scary and outside your risk profile, then break the action steps down. Construct a series of smaller steps to which the answer to the above question is comfortable.
The point is, you are still committing to that action or decision but at the same time exercising diligence and ensuing you can sleep at night.