It should surprise no one at this point that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in a variety of ways, both personally and professionally. Understanding that we are not there yet, at some point we will come out of this. However, many of the changes that have taken place because of COVID are not going away. While change can be uncomfortable for some, if we are wise, we would do well to remember that there is nothing constant except change and prepare ourselves to adapt accordingly. If you want to make your life difficult and stress yourself out, resisting change is the perfect way to accomplish that.
In both our personal and professional lives, developing a process for handling change is one of the smartest things we can do. In this post, I want to share a few approaches to handling change that I have learned; hoping it will help someone else deal with the challenges of change. Keep in mind that change is not the actual issue, but our reaction to it that can make it difficult to handle. If we can learn to adjust our reaction, which is something we have the power to do, we can view change as something that empowers us instead of stressing us.
The first approach is to accept and embrace change. It does not matter if we like it or not, change is going to happen. Resisting change only affects the resister, not the change itself. Deciding to accept and even embrace change makes living with the rapid pace of change much easier. For example, if you are running a business and you plan on using the Yellow Pages as your primary source of advertising, prepare to go out of business. There are probably people who do not even know what the Yellow Pages are. By accepting and embracing change, you allow yourself to grow, adapt, and use change in accomplishing your goals. Resistance to change is a recipe for suffering. Accept it, embrace it, and build on it with the next approach.
Once you accept and embrace that change is a constant, a commitment to lifelong learning comes next. The speed of change requires continuously learning how to use new tools and develop new skills. Working remotely, collaborating using online tools, virtual meetings and conferences are here to stay at levels we have never seen before. Different providers offer these technology tools, so you will probably have to know how to use multiple platforms. Microsoft has their set of tools, Google has their set of tools, Cisco and other providers have their sets of tools. Some companies use Slack for communication and collaboration, others use Microsoft Teams, and others use Zoom to name a few. Becoming familiar with these platforms is just a small sample of the learning that needs to take place. If you are averse to learning, you will quickly fall behind and become irrelevant in the workforce. A commitment to learning is essential if you want to keep pace with change and find a place in the workplace.
Finally, keeping pace with change means being prepared to reinvent yourself as needed. New technological advances replace old occupations with new ones requiring you to reinvent yourself. According to Yuval Noah Harari, author of 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, this gets harder the longer we live.
“It’s very, very difficult to reinvent yourself when you’re 40 or 50, whether you are a taxi driver who now needs to become a web designer, or anything else. It just becomes more difficult and more scary,”. Yuval Noah Harari.
Getting accustomed to the constant reinventing of ourselves increases our chances of keeping pace with change. Being 40 or older does not mean this is not possible. It gets harder because at that age we have grown accustomed to fixed routines and become more resistant to change. With a shift in mindset, anything is possible regardless of age.
Incorporating these three approaches will help make the move into the post-pandemic world a little smoother and a lot less stressful.
- Accept and embrace change
- Commit to lifelong learning
- Prepare to reinvent yourself
Try them. All the best!