After two mind numbing days of career counseling and resume writing seminars, the writer had a chance to reflect on some issues facing all of us in our careers. How do we just go for it-try something completely different as if our career were an adventure? The idea of losing a job that we have been in for over ten years, or even twenty years is a shock to most people. Their job that they love, are good at and enjoy is going away. It’s gone! And so they get angry, they grieve, or refuse to believe it’s really happening. These are all coping mechanisms.
In the midst of this turmoil, some are planning a new life. They want to start over, go into another field, get more education, and move to a different part of the country. They look at the situation from a whole different perspective. For them it’s good to change, it’s exciting to go on a new adventure, a new job. Maybe they won’t find one immediately, but they are already making plans.
What makes the difference? How will you and your personal brand cope with a big change? Do you embrace it looking forward to the exhilaration of trying something new? Or are you the person who I encourage to try to start doing one little thing differently in your life, like taking an alternate route home from work? Change can be very empowering if you are curious about what else is out there. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard professor, speaker, writer, thought leader gives us ten reasons people resist change. Loss of control is at the top of the list. Change makes people feel that they are not in control of their fate. Uncertainty about the future is also a part of it as is the surprise element which gives the person no time to get used to the idea. Change often happens abruptly, announcements are made and suddenly, everything is different.
I think back to my schooldays in childhood. I used to take a bus to school. There were some noisy kids on the bus, and even some bullies. You were always at the mercy of the bus schedule. Then one day, my older brother taught me how to walk home. This was in Queens, New York where there were big streets to cross, so caution had to be taken, and the route was not without some measure of danger walking along the storefronts on the big avenue. However, any potential danger paled in comparison to the sheer exuberance at the freedom from taking the bus. I was now in control of my destiny, I could walk home on my own, or with my girlfriend. The world was ours. We could even stop at the candy store and share a soda on the way, big luxury as we sat with two straws each monitoring the other’s intake, like rival inspectors.
I’ve never lost that feeling when I can do something for myself and get that much more control over my life. I relish it. But I could see in the faces of the people I spoke to that it wasn’t the same for them. So I come back to it, what is your personal change brand? We all know that work is changing; companies need us one day, and not the next. We accept it, or role with the punches and it does take a toll on us, but there are things we can be doing to prepare ourselves? I noticed that the people who stayed in tune with current events and technologies had a more optimistic outlook on the possible outcomes of the change. The people who were aware of potential changes from doing research seemed to feel more comfortable with the changes. Maybe because they had that awareness beforehand, they experienced less surprise when the move was finally announced. These same people kept up with news of companies coming into the area who may provide employment.
It’s possible that those who are better able to cope with change are the people who somehow anticipated it could happen, followed the thought to its logical conclusion which guided them to prepare for something different coming. They were curious about what would be next in their lives, as if it were a new adventure. It is this spirit that buoys us on the rocky seas around us. We start thinking how it might even be better than what we are doing now. It’s an impulse we should preserve within ourselves, for it’s the one that urges us to get ready, make plans and possibly adapt to the new environment. Keep your options open, stay curious, and be willing to embrace your personal change brand.