Do you know what you need to thrive during times of change?
This may be a change that you choose like finding a new job, losing weight, or seeking a new romantic relationship. Or it could be a moment of change that you don’t choose, like your favorite yoga studio closing, your job being eliminated, or breaking up with someone you thought was the love of your life.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that some people are able to just go with the flow and other people seem to hang on or resist change so tightly that they live in a constant state of stress. I’ve dreamt about being one of those “go with the flow” personalities. And then I find myself back in my journal planning how I’m going to finish my weekly to-do list when everything around me is going crazy. How about you?
Change can be difficult, regardless whether you have a preference for Judging or Perceiving. Here are three strategies to help you manage change better and face every unexpected transition with confidence, not fear.
Three Change Tools for Judgers
1. Plan for different scenarios
My last boss was a Perceiver who loved to make last-minute changes to our elaborate leadership development program plans. I would get incredibly frustrated every time he made small and large changes that would impact me and my team. Eventually, I realized that I needed to use my planning skills to manage the situation. He was the Vice President; he wasn’t going to be the one to change!
What I did first was develop a personal mantra: “Come with a plan, be ready to change.” This allowed me to acknowledge my Judger’s need to have a detailed plan of action and, at the same time, have some alternative options mapped for my spontaneous boss to choose from in the moment. Using this mantra made me feel more prepared and in control. It wasn’t much, just a simple mindset shift, but it allowed my team to feel less stressed and more prepared to deal with any changes.
Using mantras or affirmations is a great way for Judgers to interrupt their rigid thought patterns and develop new behaviors to manage change. Here are a few suggestions:
- I don’t have to make all of the decisions today.
- I have adapted to other changes in my life successfully and I can do it again.
- I am in control of the way I react to change.
2. Identify what you can control
Sometimes, the best way to navigate change is to focus your mind and energy on the aspects of the change that you can control. I like to use a simplified version of the psychological concept called the Locus of Control.
Take a piece of paper and draw three columns. Label the first column “Have Control,” the second column “Areas of Influence” and the third column “Not in Control”. Take 10-15 minutes to think about your situation and list the facts for each column.
Example 1: Looking for a new job
- Create or enhance your job profile on LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.
- Make a list of friends or colleagues you could contact for networking
- Apply for open positions
- Practice your interviewing skills
Areas of Influence
- Send a “thank you” note encouraging the employer to hire you after an interview
- Demonstrate or explain how your skills can be transferable to the new role if you’re looking at a job in a new field or at a different level
- Asking for additional vacation time or a higher salary
Not in Control
- Available jobs in the market
- Your competition for the role
- Final job offer
Example 2: Difficulties with someone you’re dating
- Initiate a conversation about how you’re feeling and what you want
- Take action on making a commitment or letting go
- Reflect on the positive attributes of the relationship
- Take responsibility for your thoughts and actions impacting the relationship
Areas of Influence
- Negotiate what changes need to be made by both partners for success
Not in Control
- Interpretation of your words and actions by your partner
- Final decision to stay or go
At the end of this exercise, reflect on the items you listed in the “Have Control” and “Areas of Influence” column. Focus your mind on taking those actions instead of worrying about the things you listed in the “Not in Control” column.
3. Do something (anything)
What things do you like to do to feel in control during change periods? Do you create goals? Make lists with inspired actions? Don’t laugh, but as an INFJ personality, when my life is feeling out of control, the first thing I do is change my hairstyle. Yes, you heard me right. I change my hairstyle because in some small way, I know that this is one decision aera where I have total control.
I encourage you to identify the small things you can do that will bring you joy and make you happy. This positive energy will propel you forward to take on the more difficult tasks needed to manage the bigger changes in your life.
Perceiving Change Tools
1. Shift your focus to a “lens of exploration”
Change is often more exciting to people who prefer Perceiving because of their need for spontaneity and variety in their lives. The challenge for Perceivers comes when they do not have enough information about the changes. When that happens, they don’t feel ready to commit to taking action and struggle to get onboard with the transition.
Once, I heard a motivational speaker suggest that you think about change as going on an adventure. This works, because having the mindset of an adventure is much more thrilling than thinking that you’re about to start a diet or search for a new job! If the adventure mindset seems too crazy, try shifting towards a ‘lens of exploration’. Exploring the change means giving yourself time to discover how the change will benefit or possibly challenge your current lifestyle.
At work, exploring means you take time to learn about the new processes required for your role, the new company culture, or the do’s and don’ts of working with your new manager. In a new relationship, exploring change means you ask lots of questions to get to know this person on a deeper level, or you try out different types of dates such as a wine-tasting dinner, going to a concert or maybe watching something online together through Zoom.
Choosing a lens of exploration mindset will help you discover new people, situations and places – all the things that will help you make sense of your new normal.
2. Brainstorm a possibilities list
During change periods, a strength that Perceivers bring to the table is their ability to see a variety of options or future possibilities. However, if the change feels forced or if a decision has to be made abruptly, that may feel overwhelming for a Perceiver. The internal mantra of a Perceiver is “There isn’t just one way to change.”
Here, it’s worth trying to get the thoughts out of your head or mouth and give yourself 10-15 minutes to brainstorm a list of possibilities. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are alternative ways to view this change?
- Who do I know that can help me with this change?
- When can I make a different decision? Or when might I be able to do something different?
- Where might I find a new…?
- What would make me feel better about this change?
The goal of the list is to help the Perceiver feel more in control of his options, and not feel ilke she is being forced into one single way of doing something.
3. Shift your perspective with improv
Have you ever watched a comedy show that uses improvisation? The actors or comedians fire their responses like bullets by quickly adjusting to the environment or adding onto something that already exists. For Perceivers, learning an improvisation exercise is one way to develop their natural ability to go with the flow when they are struggling with a more difficult change.
“Yes, and” is an improvisation exercise where you say “yes” to acknowledge what is happening around you. It is not an agreement that you like or will accept the changes—it is simply acknowledging “what is”. This exercise is often used in team or group environments, but you can do this activity with a close friend who understands the change you are experiencing, or even write your responses in a journal.
The “and” refers to how you might adapt to the change. For example:
- “Yes, I lost my job, and now I can finally work on starting my online business.”
- “Yes, my yoga studio is closing down, and maybe I could try an online program that will save me money and I can stay fit.”
- “Yes, my partner isn’t happy with my level of support, and next time I will try to listen to them when they’re upset.”
Improvisation provides a variety of techniques to shape a Perceiver’s natural way of adjusting to new environments, people, and processes. It helps you take some intentional action towards the life you want to live.