Categories: Professional Development
As my grandmother was losing her battle with cancer, I took her hand and asked her what I needed to know about life before she left me. We were close and I felt afraid about stepping into the future without her. Nearly daily I hear her response in my thoughts. She replied “life is all about how you handle change, Lori. Handle it well, handle it with grace”. She modeled a long full life of gracefully embracing changes like moving from Russia to America, learning a new language, starting new jobs, rearing two active boys and more. During her lifetime she witnessed incredible advances in travel, technology and even learned to embrace her terminal condition with grace.
I consider her advice in my professional life whenever a trusted coworker leaves, corporate announces a new merger or restructuring, my boss asks me to lead a new technology or upgrade I am unfamiliar with or a million other changes come my way. Being willing to gracefully embrace change can be a challenge – especially in these times when change comes at us with such ferocity.
As project managers, we each face enormous change – sometimes it can feel like we are living in a pressure cooker! Below are some change management tips I use in both my personal and professional life:
- Accept my honest feelings about change – It helps to take a moment to wallow in the idea of this change, thinking about it and considering what this change really means. Not trying to solve or manage it just yet, instead simply considering what the change feels like – but the key here is not to linger in this stage too long.
- Look for any positive – Is there any positive for me or others in making this change? Can I alter how I am looking at this change by considering the perspectives of others? Will this change help anyone or do good in some way?
- Recount past strengths – Is there something I faced in the past when I handled change well? Reminding myself of these successes, can help boost my confidence about facing what is ahead.
- Reach out – Finding others to talk with who have already traveled this path to see if there is anything I can learn from their experiences can be invaluable. This website is a great place to reach out to peers for their thoughts. The support of others can make all the difference.
- Make my health a priority – Even experiencing good change can be hard and stressful. Success rates can be improved by making healthy food choices, exercising and getting a good night of sleep which will help keep stress in check while managing change. When I am physically stronger I am better prepared to handle change.
- Believe in yourself and move forward – Project managers model this by setting small, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-framed goals. This works for personal changes too. Sometimes it is baby steps, but even baby steps add up to progress.
Consider embracing and handling change well because as my grandmother so wisely offered – life is all about HOW you handle change – do it with grace. On a final note my grandmother’s name was Grace.