We are coming to the final week of January. I haven’t made any resolutions, but the idea of change has been a resounding thought in my mind all month. This morning, I wondered why many people embrace making resolutions but seem to have a fear of change. After all, isn’t a resolution all about making a change? I guess the difference resides in the amount of control a person has in the process. A person deciding to make a change is one thing, when change is thrust upon them it is an altogether different thing.
Where I’ve encountered folks who exhibit the greatest fear of change is in the workplace, where many surrender to the status quo of how things have always been. Keeping up with new technology or figuring out more efficient and creative ways to use existing technology is something that some seem to find no time for. The thought, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” prevails, even when things are changing in various ways around them.
This can be fine for a while, but what I’ve learned from the time of MS Word’s crushing destruction of WordPerfect as the word processing software of choice to when I was one of thousands of folks in 2008 who found themselves looking for work due to business closures, is how imperative it is to make forced change work for you. The best ways I have learned to do that is 1) accept that change is inevitable, and 2) always embrace the opportunity to learn something knew.
Back in the days of WordPerfect, I was a Jedi Master of reveal codes. Reveal codes were little boxes of code that held all of the formatting properties. I made that software sing. Then along came MS Word and reveal codes were no more. I couldn’t wrap my brain around how I was supposed to process words without reveal codes! In my mind it wasn’t going to work and I dragged my feet into the training that they tried to loft me into. Fast-forward three months into the change, I remember thinking how much easier MS Word was than WordPerfect. Fast-forward to today, whenever I happen to come across a job posting where WordPerfect is a necessity I wonder why are they stuck in a time warp.
I learned a huge lesson from that experience. In the long run it prepared me for the layoff that I would go through in 2008. I went into that forced change with a great deal of confidence. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would secure employment. I had developed a work ethic that embraced the concept of lifetime learning at the forefront, which essentially gave me that confidence. I learned not to look at new technology or a change in process as a threat, but to see it as something else I can add to my repertoire. While I sent out hundreds of resumes that went into the black hole of the internet, within three months I was gainfully employed. This period of time was without much handwringing and stress because I was thoroughly confident in my skills.
Change is something we are always going through. It comes with the rotation of the earth and there’s not a darn thing anyone can do about it. Accepting that and embracing the idea of lifetime learning helps mitigate the fear of change when we have little to no control over things. You just might find that doors will open up for you when things appear pretty bleak.