The world is changing. I see it in my coffee. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air conditioning.
Much that once was remote is lost...drawn back to the office.
Whether you are the one making the policies (and doing your best to make them work) or just another one of the ‘grunts’, change happens. I feel that for everyone, change causes some kind of chaos – good or bad. We are creatures of habit. The human brain (especially our ‘lizard brain’ instinctual side) loves routine and derives comfort from it.
But what happens when change strikes? When the unexpected happens?
Many of us take an extra coffee break for some hyperventilating as we nervously pour another cup of coffee, extra strong this time. We think thoughts like "how will this work out?" or "why are we changing X again? It was just fine," or even "why do I even work here?"
We often have questions. Questions that need answering. And often there is no Gandalf to come to our aid at the dawning of the fifth day.
That’s why we need to be our own Gandalf and use the methods outlined below to help us deal with unexpected changes.
1. Take Stock of Your Situation
The dictionary definition of anxiety is as follows:
noun – a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. (Allow me to emphasize "uncertain outcome")
We get anxious when we are no longer confident in an outcome or the steadfastness of something/someone that has otherwise been consistent. In many situations, anxiety rises out of fear of the unknown. Take a moment to step back and try to understand the change better. Have a private conversation with the person leading the change. Call a ‘council’ session like Elrond did.
Do what you can to understand more about the situation. You may be surprised how a better understanding can alleviate stress and anxiety.
2. Understand What You Do Have Control Over
This could be part of ‘taking stock’ above, but I felt it was worth mentioning this as its own item.
Control is another big thing our animal side likes. While we all have different levels of how much control we innately desire, at the end of the day some level of control makes each of us comfortable.
Ask yourself, “what do I have control over?” Simple as that. And actually take some time to think through your answer in detail. Write it down if you have to so it gets embedded in your brain more thoroughly. Think of Aragorn at Helm’s Deep with Gamling:
A: “Is there no other way for the women and children to get out of the caves?”
G: “There is one passage…”
There is always at least one passage. There is always a choice you can make. It may not be fun or easy, but there is always something you do have control over. Find it.
“It’s the job that’s never started, that takes longest to finish.” - Sam Gamgee
Now that you have the information you need, go do something about it!
Action and intent create momentum. Momentum from action and intent leads to better ends than sitting idle and hoping affairs will work out in your favor (spoiler: they won’t!). With an ounce of patience, some diplomacy, and a healthy helping of action you can find the best way out of any uncertain situation.
I’ll leave you with one last quote to ponder as you navigate change: “Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.” Elrond
Remember, until next time, be the hero your life deserves.