Four Stages of Change

Most of us hate change, and the brain hates change. The brain screams no and tells us to stay in our comfy cozy, safe space. Don’t bother me, it says, keep the way you are.

But as we learned in the last three years, sometimes change arrives unsolicited and unwanted. The only thing constant is change.

It can be gradual or sudden.

A pandemic suddenly shuts down the world.

Kids, once toddlers, grow up and leave home.

A medical diagnosis requires habit change to survive.

How do we navigate through this UNCERTAINTY?

Jason Feifer, CEO of Inc. Magazine, identifies Four Stages of Change.

PANIC – Studies have shown that most people focus on what they will lose by change rather than what they will gain. The grief and anxiety of loss set us into panic mode. How can we give up what we know, what we had, or who we loved? Loss, loss, loss.

Moving through this stage requires focusing on what we will gain. There is value on the other side of this. What are the possibilities? If we have to change, what could be better?

ADAPTING –  Once accepting the change, we adjust and focus on what we can do. The thing that drives people to success is their adaptability. We look at two sides of opportunity. The first is what we are expected to do; the second is everything available to you that no one is asking you to do. This is where growth happens.

NEW NORMAL – When we start to create new familiarity with something that feels comfortable. Old habits are left behind. Empty nesters enjoy newfound freedom. Working from home is a joy.

It’s tempting to stop there. But what if we challenge to understand the opportunities in front of us? What is it for about everything that I do? You may think you are settled, but disruption will happen again.

“WOULDN’T GO BACK” – This moment you reach anything so significant and valuable, you say, I wouldn’t want to go back to a time before I had this. It recognizes the incredible opportunity by reconsidering the impossible. These are things that are always available but were thought to be too complex or too challenging.

Let’s take a look at this framework through the lens of the COVID pandemic.

PANIC – Am I going to die? Shutdown. Loss of freedom of mobility. Loss of friends and family. Loss of workplace connections. Loss, Loss, Loss.

ADAPTING – Building a home office in a closet. Zoom calls to connect with friends and family. More time to commit to hobbies.

NEW NORMAL – Comfortable working from home. Enjoy spending more time with your family. No commuting, saving money and time. Healthier and happier.

“WOULDN’T GO BACK” – Successful work was completed outside the office. I will not go back in person unless it is a purposeful connection. Collaborate with what a hybrid workplace would look like.

What change have you successfully achieved that you wouldn’t go back to?