Dearest ones, How are you managing these first months of the year? I have an undeniable feeling of exhaustion. Even if I had a few days off for Christmas, it almost faded away in a blink when we restarted engines back in January. I wonder, have we been able to integrate and digest the constant waves of change that we have been facing, for a year now? The clear answer is no. As I was preparing a keynote on change management earlier this week, I reflected on what we call "the change curve" and the axis that comprise this theory: motivation and time. We need both in order to move forward and further from the starting point - shock.
Source: The Six Change Approaches by Kotter & Schlesinger
The reality is that we haven't had sufficient time to even reach to the 2nd part of the graph. The moment we started experimenting with new ides and solutions to generate the integration, we were drowned with another wave of change - if you don't believe me, here is an official stat: the UK government has changed its lockdown rules 64 times since March last year - I'm sure that this number brings some surprise. Beyond the obvious criticism of this fact, I want to focus on the fundamental element of change - we need time to absorb, digest, come with creative solutions to implement and overcome the changes. And we haven't had sufficient time. What are the obvious consequences? What I call "change burnout" or general exhaustion. Our brains can't cope with so many changes coming right, left and centre, simultaneously. Our capacity to process and come up with solutions (problem solving) is overwhelmed, creating a general feeling of frustration, hopelessness and paralysis. You got it, we got stuck in the 1st part of the graph.
So, knowing what we know, what is that we can do about it? Here is a very simple process we can follow through to not only release the feeling of "stuckness" but in fact, start generating solutions to things we can actually change:
1/ Discerning between what I can control / I can change and what I can't An obvious yet sometimes missed first step is to acknowledge that we aren't in full control of what happens in our life. But, there is a very important realisation. We might not be able to change events happening around us (aka lockdown for instance) but we can definitely have full agency to decide and choose the actions we are taking as a response. And it's fundamental we focus on those aspects we can change only - to narrow down the scope but also to bring awareness to the steps we can action instead of disappearing in a space of despair about those things we don't necessarily agree with but we can't really influence. 2/ Providing time to decompress / self-care / digest / integrate As shown in the graph, time is a fundamental factor that enables change integration. As we narrow the bandwith of things we want to change or action, we need to make time in our busy agendas to integrate, in whichever way you like: sleep, walks in nature, yoga, reading, journaling, painting, brainstoring, meditation....anything that will provide a "break" to our overworked brain to process and come up with solutions. 3/ Dealing with loss, with compassion and boundaries Part of this process also involves loss. Change takes away the previous status quo and brings a new paradigm. Allowing time and space to acknowledge the feelings, with a loving a compassionate approach instead of forcing them to unfold quicker (which will be detrimental for a long lasting integration) will make all the difference for a successful sustainable process 4/ Prioritise + Focus, with presence As you move through the process, it's time to choose your way forward. What are the things you want to focus on, that you want to change, that need your attention. And get cracking - avoiding distractions from anyone else - and yourself - as your old narratives might pop up trying to holding you back from actually succeeding in implementing change (what I call internal resistances) 5/ Put it into action - Practice And of course, the most important thing! After we have been though this intense process of discerning, becoming aware and prioritisation, it's time to take action. How are you moving forward? Which actions are going to support you best? Who is holding you accountable? Are there any potential obstacles coming your way - and if they do, do you have a contingency plan for it? Give it a go and let me know what you think - as always, happy to have a chat about this in case you want to explore it further With love and hope, Monica x