We all go through lots of changes in our lives. Some are developmental changes that happen without our conscious participation. Others are changes we can predict will happen, whether or not we’re happy about them. Some of those changes come as a complete surprise. Experiencing change is a part of our shared humanity.
Whether change is planned, expected, or a surprise, whether it comes from external factors or from within, as we develop skills for handling change, we can grow stronger and clearer about who we are and how we want to live. We grow better at navigating life’s inevitable changes, as our past experiences provide guidance in handling current changes (McLelland,1998).
In nature, summer yields to fall, followed by winter and spring, a continuous cycle of changing seasons. Life’s changes take place in a similar, predictable sequence. The Seasons of Change (SOC) model helps us to know where we are in the cycle of change, and see where we are going. We can know what the purpose of each season is, and what tasks we should focus onto successfully move through each season.
Fall heralds a coming change. Our purpose in Fall is to sense things shifting, to recognize that life in the future may not be the same as it has been. In Fall, we may find ourselves waiting for news, feeling worried about the future, or feeling unsettled and uneasy. Fall’s central tasks are to 1) acknowledge that change lies ahead, 2) get support, 3) create a safe space to shelter us from the harsher conditions ahead, and 4) review our options.
For Anna,* the signs of change came from within. She was in a good job that paid well and earned her a lot of recognition as the director of content development for an online information center. She liked her co-workers and was happy with with her salary. But after eight years there, she was feeling the need to leave.
Anna felt she could no longer bring the best of herself to her work. As the company grew, there were more and more rules and procedures to follow, to the point that she felt constricted, controlled and stifled. She felt the gap between her own values and beliefs and the company’s was widening. She wanted to work in a setting where she would be a better fit, and where she could find the creative control and satisfaction of making a meaningful contribution. Within the safe space of our coaching sessions, we brainstormed options open to her as she considered this change, and further prepared for the coming Winter by focusing on identifying additional sources of support, and on strategies for creating a refuge within her own home. Taking these steps eased Anna’s worry as she planned for an unknown future.
Think of a change you recently experienced. What were the early signs that a change was coming?
McCLelland, C. (1998). The seasons of change. Conari Press: York Beach, ME
Take the Seasons of Change questionnaire to get a sense of where you are in the change process. The questionnaire won’t score or rate you. Instead, it offers a great starting point for our discussion. Contact me to talk about it in a free, no obligationhalf-hour Ask-A-Coach phone session. I look forward to talking with you.
*Name changed and details altered to protect privacy.
First published November, 2013 as “How to Handle Change”
Updated August, 2017.