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Ten ways to embrace change

Blindsided by a job loss, the unfamiliar isn’t to be feared. It can be a chance to turn your life around.

The author lost her job a few years ago in a shrinking industry but far from letting it ruin her life, it gave her the chance to do things she had always hoped to do In the process, she discovered a lot about how to survive when head-rattling transformations are thrust upon you. Here are some of the tricks she picked up along the way.

1. Don’t just do something; sit there. If you are facing a massive resealing of your life, your first impulse will be to go into a whirring spin of activity. There is a lot of value to sitting quietly instead. You need to allow yourself a fallow period before you can blossom.

2. Mother yourself a little. When familiar routines suddenly dissolve, it can seem as if all your supports are gone. For a while there is a sense of being in free fall. It’s crucial while absorbing the shock of the new, to make yourself feel well taken care of. Prepare nutritious meals for the week ahead. If you can spare the cash, have someone come in and clean the house. Yes, you need to take some time for yourself.

3. Ignore your inner reptile. There’s a part of the human mind that is often referred to as the “lizard brain”, because it existed in even the earliest land animals. The lizard brain is concerned with survival; it likes the tried and true, so it’s likely to pipe up right now, flooding you with adrenalin warnings of “Danger!” as you veer off course. This was a handy function to have when deviating from the familiar path to the watering hole may have led to an encounter with a sabre-toothed tiger. In the modern world it’s like a misfiring alarm: pointless and annoying.

4. Silence your inner know-it-all, too. If you are so smart that you can’t rethink your position, all your IQ points won’t do you much good when your life is turned upside down.

5. Seek out new perspectives. Zen practitioners cultivate the “don’t know” mind; they work to assume they don’t know anything and in that way see the world fresh. This is a way to approach change — as an opportunity to start anew, to consider possibilities. Ask naive, wide-eyed questions of anyone who is doing anything you might be interested in trying. Listen seriously to arguments you might once have dismissed.

6. Try something new and slightly scary. Why? Because now is the time to explore what it is that you really like.

7. Be sceptical of common wisdom. It’s dangerous to live in the aggregate, especially when you’re trying to figure out your next move. One year, everyone knows you need an MBA to succeed in everything. The next, they’re saying there are no jobs out there anyway, so don’t even try.

8. Learn to live with uncertainty. That anxious feeling does not signal that you’re doing something wrong, only that you’re trying something new.

9. Say “really?” a lot. When you start to turn this sudden shift in your life to your advantage, you might shake up a lot of people, especially the ones who aren’t happy with how they’re living. To them your efforts to move forward may feel like a glaring searchlight that needs to be switched off and fast. To their descriptions of the terrible fates that will surely befall you if you dive headlong into a new life, respond with “Really?” Alternatively, “Oh, yeah?” works too.

10. Shed your old skin. Discard physical clutter, tired ideas, and old routines. It is only when you cast off what has been weighing you down that you can finally move on.

This column By Katherine Russell Rich was submitted by the EAP. If you need help contact EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) of Bermuda on 292-9000.

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Published June 25, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated June 24, 2013 at 8:18 pm)

Ten ways to embrace change

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