It has been said the only true constant is change, but what exactly is it? Most important, how do we deal with it? According to Google Dictionary, it is “The act or instance of making or becoming different”. My personal definition is that of “a flux in time.” I like my own description because it reminds me that all change, good or bad, it temporary. It’s a bend in our existence, a hiccup in history. The effects of the Coronavirus has given most of us more change than we have had to confront in recent years.
No matter how you define it, all major change is going to be an upheaval to someone’s life. Even what we consider to be good change will more than likely have a negative effect to someone, somewhere. What it boils down to, is a loss of certainty.
A few years ago, I taught an adult Sunday School class and I noticed a recurring theme with many of the lessons. Whether it was about attitudes, a particular sin, or our relationships with one another, the moral was that to truly see God’s Grace, we would need to let go of our own sense of control. That’s when it struck me that we as humans are actually OUT of control more times in our lives than we are in it.
As a self-confessed “control freak”, that is not an easy thing for me to do. But the universe is much larger than I. Look at how many times a day, decisions have already been made for us. The alarm clock tells us when to wake up. Society or our spouse tell us we should practice personal hygiene each morning. Traffic lights tell us when we may or may not proceed through an intersection. Our boss tells us what we will do that day and when to leave work. Our children tell us how we will spend our evening. Then, we do it all over again, because we have to. More decisions are made for us than we make ourselves and it has always been that way.
Control is an illusion. But we hold onto that illusion because it gives us a sense of security. We like to know what to expect. The world is a much scarier place if we do not know where our next paycheck was coming from, how we would put food on the table, or whether our children will receive an education. Yet, this is exactly what millions of Americans are dealing with now. Once the pandemic subsides, much of what we once knew in the country will have changed. But to what degree? We will have to wait and see.
Business futurist Alvin Toffler stated in the 70’s; “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Many may have to find a new job or learn a new skill if the old employer is no longer there. Some having little in-pocket cash have turned to a barter system or trading with neighbors for necessities. Online or “distance” learning is now the new normal. Change has come at us fast. The one thing we still have is how we decide to deal with that change.
Much has been mentioned about the psychological and emotional health of those who are “sheltered in place” right now. Over the years, I have noticed those who are happiest and most successful in business are those who are able to adapt to the changing times. Fortunately, this rarely involves changing our core principle, but it does mean making a shift in our perspective. Perhaps we all know someone who still believes the internet is just a fad. In fact, it’s the only way in which most schools, institutions and many businesses are functioning at all right now.
There are a few things we can do to help us deal with change and protect the six inches between our ears. I have compiled a list of half a dozen things that will help us transition during and after this current health care crisis.
1) Flexibility; When I was a young pup in the Army, I had a difficult time of dealing with change, especially when the work for one plan had already been done. Sergeant Finnel, my squad leader once told me “Above all, remain flexible”. I’m not sure why he said it that way, but it is something that I always remember him saying. I’m not perfect, but I do strive to be flexible in the face of adversity.
2) Manage Your Expectations; A lot of discussion had been had as to how long we must hunker down in our homes or exercise precaution when we venture out. Physicians and politicians are not always of the same mind as to how long this will last. It’s probably best to set any hard dates in our minds in order to avoid upset later.
3) Show Appreciation; This may be something we do almost begrudgingly, but it is necessary none the less. At the risk of sounding cavalier, keep things in perspective. There are other countries who are having a much more difficult time with the Coronavirus than us.
4) Limit Your News Intake; How much news did you watch a month or two ago? Was it just half an hour a day? Try to return to that level now. I remember after 9/11 it was reported people not anywhere near the attacks suffered from depression simply because they watched the hour-by-hour reports on TV.
5) Establish Daily Routines; Sleeping in until almost Noon when we normally wake at 6 a.m. is not a good practice. We all know how it feels to return to work just after just a week of vacation. If you are not able to work from home, clean. Organize, paint or take up a hobby for a certain amount of hours a day. Gain back a certain amount of that sense of security by keeping a schedule for yourself.
6) Draw on the Support of Others; If you or a family member begins to feel despondent, be certain to have a conversation with loved ones and express yourself or ask for what you feel you need. Also, be there for others, even online. Someone may be having a tougher time of it than you, though they don’t show it. Check on your neighbors, even if you don’t know them that well. A pleasant conversation with you across the fence could be the best part of someone’s day.
Change is inevitable, but we can help one another through it. This is a time of challenge and we decide how will face that challenge. Our attitude, at least, is still in our control. No doubt, we will discover things about ourselves we never imagined. What do we want those discoveries to be when we look back at the flux in time?
Blaine Little is the founder and CEO of Momentum Seminars Training & Coaching, helping companies remain profitable by investing in their people. He is also a certified life and business coach. Learn more at http://MomentumSeminars.com