This checklist can help you get better at dealing with change

We’re all dealing with a challenging year. There’s a reason why logic isn’t enough to help you adjust.

This checklist can help you get better at dealing with change
[Photo: Stephan Henning/Unsplash]

If you made any plans for 2020, chances are they were changed. The way you work probably changed, as did the things you do when you’re off the clock. While many of us love things that are new and fresh, when it comes to being forced to change? Not so much.


“Change is all about people, and people are emotional, irrational beings,” says Campbell Macpherson, author of The Power to Change: How to Harness Change to Make it Work for You. “Most change leaders seem to think that logic and process will be enough to bring about successful change, but they won’t. If we are to embrace change, we humans not only require clarity of what we are trying to achieve, but we also need to know why.”

To address change when you feel resistance, Macpherson recommends using this checklist:

1. Accept that change is inevitable

“It just is,” he says. “End of story.”


2. Accept that not all change is going to be good

Even bad change needs to be embraced at some point, so we can then start to look for the opportunities and move on.

“Reframe how you think of change,” suggests Macpherson. “Instead of thinking of it as obstacles thrown in your way, look at change as opportunity.”

3. Understand that all change is emotional

When confronted with change, most of us put up barriers. To overcome them, you need to recognize them. “Resisting change is a natural evolutionary survival instinct, we all do it,” says Macpherson. “We all erect our own personal barriers to change.”


For example, you may be afraid of failing, losing your status, or looking stupid. Or you may be worry that you’ll be blamed for not changing earlier. “Some of these last a millisecond,” says Macpherson. “Some may last a lifetime. But we can learn to overcome them.”

4. Detach from those fears

Once you face your barrier, let it go. This can include your negative thoughts, emotions, ego, and identity. “If our heads are full of negative thoughts and concerns, we need to learn to detach ourselves from them,” says Macpherson. “The simple act of observation will instantly stop us from identifying with them. They aren’t us. They are just thoughts.”

Then lessen the fear by putting it into perspective and breaking it down into smaller bite-size steps. For example, overcome a fear of the unknown by doing research.


5. Create favorable conditions for change

No one changes simply because they are told to. They must want to change. To turn a desire into action, you need a supportive environment that helps you create new habits. Remove obstacles, rituals, and routines that get in the way of embracing change. Then create a better environment that helps and doesn’t hinder change.

6. Be your own change catalyst

Analyze the situation you are in, take stock of your personal strengths and build your own plan of action. “By identifying our own change barriers and finding our own emotional triggers, we have the power to enable ourselves to change,” says Macpherson.

Treat yourself like your own change project. Ask for help from those who have already addressed the type of change you’re going through. And do a personal SWOT—strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats—analysis.


7. Help others

“Helping others to navigate their way through change is not only a wonderful thing to do but it is also fantastic therapy for ourselves,” says Macpherson. “We usually learn as much, if not more, than the people we are helping.”

When you help others deal with change, your focus is outward. This helps you not hyper focus on your own issues, which can be overwhelming. Stepping outside of your own feelings and concerns is healthy for you, and for the person you’re helping.

8. Check your attitude

When change arrives, even when it is forced upon you, remember that you are not powerless, says Macpherson. “This year we learned that we can embrace change—even when it’s difficult change that is forced upon us—as long as we have a strong emotional reason for doing so and are supported during the change,” he says. “People across the world compiled with lockdown restrictions unheard of in peace time because they were protecting their health services and saving lives. You can control how you react, and that can make all the difference.”


About the author

Stephanie Vozza is a freelance writer who covers productivity, careers, and leadership. She's written for Fast Company since 2014, and her byline has appeared in several other leading publications and websites


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