Dealing With Change

Friday, September 2, 2016

I’m terrible at dealing with change.

Apparently I’m supposed to have some sort of 5 year plan that sees me living in a bigger house, or in a better job, or just generally better. Mostly, though, I just think I would like things to stay as they are.

Where I am right now is comfortable and safe. I know what to expect from right now. Even right now isn’t good I’m still hugely resistant to change as at least this bit of “not good” is predictable and known.

That’s why I stayed in jobs that made me unhappy, up to the point they forced me to jump.

The problem with disliking change is that you rarely get to make change on your terms. Outside influences are more likely to force change on you, which is then beyond your control. When faced with some amazing opportunities my fear of change has very nearly led me to turn some down (you have no idea how close I came to telling Lenovo I couldn’t go to Las Vegas), and to turn others down altogether.

Dealing with change

I find uncertainty and change mentally and physically exhausting. I will research situations endlessly until the information stops making sense. I’ll try to plan for every possible eventuality. But not just once, over and over again. It’s no wonder I hate change so much, I’m mentally exhausted from planning for it before it even happens.

Right now I’m in another moment of change. Mr Chick being made redundant is part of it, but I am also considering taking a leap and making a career change myself. Once again I find myself over researching, procrastinating and avoiding making decisions instead of confidently striding into the future and owning it.

Change is an unavoidable fact of life. nothing stays the same for ever. Avenue Q taught me that. How we deal with it is the only thing we have control over. Over the last couple of years I’ve learnt a lot about dealing with pressure from Sports Psychology. I’m trying to apply that knowledge to my every day life and dealing with change. To learn to embrace change, to be that easy-going, flexible, bold person that I would rather be.

I’ve learnt that routines are important. Just because there are some areas of your life that are out of your control doesn’t mean that everything is. Keep going to the gym, eat your breakfast and lunch at the same time and stick to your daily routine as much as you can. Before bed I always make time to read a book with a hot chocolate, for instance. I do that every day, not matter how busy I am, or what time I get to bed. I try to do it when I’m travelling as well to keep that consistency. Routines keep you grounded and constant when everything else is in flux.

Buffy Mug

I’ve also learnt that times of change are exactly the time when you need to look after yourself. If you’re moving home, or doing something else incredibly stressful it’s easy to feel like spending half an hour painting your nails is a frivolous waste of time. It isn’t. Your mental and physical well-being are inextricably linked and feeling good about yourself physically helps keep your brain in check. Brush your hair, have a bath and put on clean clothes, you’ll be much more prepared to cope.

I’m working hard on not over-analyzing. More knowledge doesn’t always equal more control. I sometimes find it hard to realise when I’ve basically found out as much as I’m going to about a situation or topic. I’ll spend ages reading every last website on the planet that covers that topic. Knowledge is power and in some situations can give you some control and an advantage, but it’s important to learn when to stop researching, and just see where life takes you.

Lastly, tell people how you feel. Don’t try to struggle on and cope with everything without letting on that you are under pressure. At least acknowledge that you might be short of time, or lack focus because of a situation you are in. Let people around you know, they might have advice, be able to offer understanding or practical help. At the very least they might be a little more understanding if you’re not as on the ball as normal.

Do you deal well with change? What are your tips on dealing with change?

15 Responses
  • Pippa
    September 2, 2016

    I feel exactly the same. I’ve had a course of CBT to try to help with it, and it has, to a point. I still struggle every day with over-planning and imagining the worst, which paralyses me with fear, meaning I never make the first move on anything, I just drift along waiting for life to happen to me. CBT taught me that I’m actually pretty good at dealing with change, when it happens, and it’s more about the fear of the unknown with me. I try to remember that, along with the fact that sometimes I just have to sit with feeling uncomfortable about a situation, without trying to fix it / plan for it / control it. Its really really really hard but I keep trying.
    Self care is also a great tip, for everyone. I’m glad it’s not just me who feels like this but I’m sorry you experience it too. X

    • Gemma
      September 2, 2016

      Oh this is exactly what I’m like! There’s lots of us out there, obviously!

  • Fabulous Miss K
    September 2, 2016

    Change is always hard and I have had to make some over the last few years due to various circumstances but sometimes you have to just close your eyes and jump as it were??

    Some amazing things have happened since I have made the changes so I would say GO FOR IT – what is the worst that could happen, life is very short so don’t waste opportunities for the fear of the unknown!

    • Gemma
      September 2, 2016


  • Mim McDonald (@crinolinerobot)
    September 2, 2016

    I, too, am terrible about change. Actually, that’s not true: I am terrible about *fearing* change and all the horrible things that could result. When I actually have to deal with change, I do a pretty good job of it. I used to get MASSIVELY anxious at the thought of losing my job, which in a profession like publishing is really a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’, so I make sure I have some savings, a decent amount of recent, relevant work on my CV, and a Plan. There’s no guarantee that the Plan would be what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, but just knowing there are things I could do straight away if the axe fell makes me feel a lot less anxious. And no-one I know who’s ever lost their job has wound up living in a box, so why would I end up that way?

    I hope your new venture, if you decide to go for it, will be a successful one. Look at all you’ve proved you can do – there’s no reason why you can’t take those skills and all that drive and experience and be a roaring success. Your track record is in success, not failure!

    • Gemma
      September 2, 2016

      Oh yes, me too, when it actually happens you just roll up your sleeves and get on with it, but I’ll resist letting it happen!

  • Terri Lee
    September 2, 2016

    Believe it or not, I actually started to cry when I first began reading your post. I could have written this. It’s the way I’ve been most of my life, always anxious, worrying, trying to control the things around me—afraid of change. As you stated, life moves forward and onward with or without you “being okay” with it. Ten months ago, my worst fear came true, when my husband suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Change has been forced on me and my life ever since has been fraught with such extreme ups and downs, sometimes it’s all I can do to keep going. I also have Crohn’s, so I have to make sure I eat right and do what I can to maintain my health. People don’t always get it though and many expect me to be “all better” by this time. Yeah, not gonna happen. You are absolutely correct about treating ourself once in a while to something frivolous, something that may not be a necessity, but that just plain makes you happy. Painting your nails. having your hair done, buying some shoes or clothing that you fall in love with—these are little things that give you a sense of normalcy. It keeps you in touch with who you were before Life closed it’s fist and socked you right upside the head. Oh, and donuts. Donuts help, too.

    • Gemma
      September 2, 2016

      Oh I’m so sorry to hear that. I hope you have people who support you. Things will get better, they always do. A few years back I was having a really terrible time, and that Avenue Q song really made me feel better. I know it’s silly, but the little things are important xx

      • Terri Lee
        September 2, 2016

        Thank you so much, Gemma. I don’t have a lot of support, but I have learned how to make many decisions I’ve never had to before. So far, I’m still financially solvent and the house is still standing upright. Most importantly, my cats and I are alive and kicking. I must be doing something right. 🙂 I had never heard that Avenue Q song before. Isn’t it strange how a song can get right to the heart of the matter and make even change a more palatable concept? There’s nothing silly about being silly. I truly believe my sense of humor is my saving grace. Much love! Terri XX

  • Fiona
    September 3, 2016

    Oh how timely!!! I like change but my husband hates it. I am trying to keep some routine so that our move is not too traumatic for someone who hates change. Good luck with your changes xx

  • suzanne
    September 3, 2016

    I feel you.

    I was so much better at dealing with change when I was younger. Travelling on my own, not knowing where I’d stay, how I’d earn money, none of it really bothered me. With all those years of constant change under my belt you’d think I’d be better prepared for major life changes at 50 but I’m not. With every passing year I find change harder to deal with.

    We are preparing for a major life change in the next month as my husband will be moving overseas for a job in Asia. It is not by choice and it is hard. Really hard. Life throws us curve balls.

    Change can be good and it is how we grow. Trying to remember that while feeling stressed and out of control is the challenge.

    One thing for sure, worrying doesn’t help anything.


  • Steph
    September 4, 2016

    I hate change too. Or not change so much, but I have a massive fear of failure! Anytime something goes wrong I analyze it endlessly and I always blame myself, and this definitely holds me back. It’s ironic, because I seem to have gotten a reputation for being good at ‘change management’ at work so keep getting given projects that put me right into crisis mode! I thought I’d gotten good at dealing with it, but I went through a break up a couple of weeks ago and it was a bit of a set back. Great advice – keeping myself as busy as possible is what mostly keeps me going. I am far too much of a thinker, so anything that keeps my thoughts from wandering to the past and what I coulda shoulda woulda done helps! And talking! Vocalising it is so much better than letting it run around in your brain over and over. If there isn’t anyone on hand to talk to I find writing it down helps too. Sometimes reading it back helps you get a bit of clarity.

  • Lori Smith
    September 4, 2016

    I’m petrified of change. I recently applied for and got a job at work that is the pay grade above my last one. Two months in and I’m still worried that I can’t do it and should have just stuck with the last role because I knew what would happen… I knew the job so well that I knew I could deal with whatever cropped up. I probably can now too, but it’s so scary just because it’s different. Thanks for the advice!

  • Alice
    September 6, 2016

    You’re right, it is not easy to accept the changes, especially if your lifestyle is safe and comfortable. But sometimes the change of welcome!

  • Bridie
    September 19, 2016

    Change is the only constant in my life right now! We have been in the process of moving house for the past 18 months – having 4 purchases fall through. Finally we are almost to completion on a house near Banbury, but living with the uncertainty has taken its toll. Your post made me chuckle as I can’t remember the last time I took time out to paint my toenails, so that’s on my list for this week… if I haven’t packed all my nail polish in a box ?