Becoming more change-positive

We are all probably familiar with the proverbial spring cleaning that accompanies the first warmer days of spring. For some it’s cleaning out the closet, making space for some new pieces. For others this time comes with cleaning windows or finally tackling household chores that were put off during the cold winter months. But how often do we revisit our lifestyles, goals or even careers?

Think about it: We don’t just outgrow our clothes or homes, but also our ideals, relationships and environments.

Experiences change us in so many nuanced or extreme ways. External factors, both on an individual and global level, impact our lives and our circumstances.

Our inner compass changes, too. What we believe in or how we approach situations evolves over time as we grow and mature into new ways of thinking or feeling.

Beginning of the year I wrote about focus for The Creative Insider and reflecting on what works and what distracts us. Reflection is so important and the first step in really moving toward a fulfilled life where personal and professional endeavors harmonize over time.

I believe our environments and relationships need to provide us with the opportunities to realize our potential.

If they don’t, we would be wise to revisit what holds us there and what is keeping us from changing things.

Ah, yes, but change can (and almost always is) to a degree painful. It takes courage and consideration, reflection and curiosity.

Sometimes change will take you to a place where a bigger reset is necessary, where it’s not about moving forward in the current direction but switching lanes altogether and finding a new path. Already it is clear that generations Y and Z will have multiple careers in their lifetimes compared to older generations that stick with one profession until retirement.

We need to become more comfortable with change and make it a habit to reflect, reset and grow.

But is there a formula to help us with this without throwing us into soul-searching, rollercoaster phases? In my own experience over the years, I’ve found that three skills are important to living with change.

Why believe me? I’m no stranger to the subject. It’s been an ever-present part of my life, from early childhood and constant relocations across continents, to being a young professional and shifting career lanes to stay ahead. I believe that the fact that I consciously work through change and toward growth helps me gain a much better understanding of myself and what suits me best. And it takes the panic out of suddenly there new circumstances.

So, I present to you:

3 skills to more comfort with change

1. Develop a growth mindset

First, believe the cliché of “Nothing stays the same.” The pandemic is the most recent proof of how quickly things change and how flexible we need to be about adapting to those new circumstances. The sooner we learn to embrace the idea that anything and everything can (and most likely will) change, the better we become at creating opportunities from that change and grow.

Second, when you are open to change you become more aware of opportunities. Because you know things change, you allow yourself to recognize the things that come along that may be a good direction for you, even though they would not have fit into your current vision or ideal. That openness creates possibility. If you decide to pursue it or not is your choice. But at least you have that choice.

2. Create new habits

It’s difficult to change or adopt new habits. But the reality is: It’s crucial for moving with the times. When we form new habits, we also rewire our brains and keep our minds sharp. We develop willpower over our automatic systems and reshape our perceptions.

There are a few great books on the subject. To get you started, we suggest “Atomic Habits” by James Clear on forming new habits and “The Bullet Journal” by Ryder Carroll on turning habits into accountability and productivity.

3. Invest in yourself — Education and learning

Our industries are evolving faster and faster. New technologies sprout up in a heartbeat calling for new skills and expertises. What you learn in university is just a single building block of everything you will need in a lifetime of work. Having the capability and capacity to keep learning new things that will either build on your expertise or help you develop knowledge in new fields is crucial to remaining competitive professionally.

And don’t just limit it to professional areas, either. Cultivate your curiosity and follow your interests beyond your usual sphere of topics. If you spend most of your time in digital work, do something with your hands for a change, which also stimulates different areas of your brain. Or if you are in a creative field, learn a business skill or something with numbers or mathematics.

As you perform your spring cleaning this year, take a good look at your personal and professional life, too. Breathe in the fresh April air. Reflect on your achievements, but also your frustrations.

Take a moment and ask yourself, kindly:
Is the road you’re on leading in a promising direction? Or are you following it just because it’s there?

If you only do this exercise once a year, choose a time that promotes new beginnings. Like this month of April, when spring begins flirting with us and really anything is possible.