Voluntary Change: Thought processes in anticipation of change

April 7, 2014 | Hamilton, Ontario
Contributed by Teal McAteer, Associate Professor, Human Resources & Management with Kristine Leadbetter, Advancement Officer

lazy-manA three part mini-series on voluntary change.

Part 2 – So how do we recognize when we need to shake things up?

For those of you just joining us, this is the second edition of our three part mini-series about “Voluntary Change” featured in Month@DeGroote. Read Part I – Why in 2014 we need to deliberately give ourselves a kick in the pants.

We tend to only make change when the pain of the present becomes greater than the pain of the unknown. When we are staring at the uncertainty, finally realizing that it is a better option. Why must we wait until this point? What is our personal indicator to make changes? Do we tune in and listen to our “internal compass”? Work may be satisfying — but not challenging, a relationship moderate — but not fulfilling, business and personal relationships toxic — but we’ve not yet recognized the signs. Everything may seem to be going well but we start to show or feel “symptoms” that change needs to happen.

The body has an amazing way of starting to show evidence. Similarly, corporately your company or employees will produce signs.

We sometimes choose to ignore these warnings and the signs will come to surface in ways that can be behavioural, psychological, or physiological. The body has an amazing way of starting to show evidence. Similarly, corporately your company or employees will produce signs. Stress gets exhibited in response to not settling a resistance, not being able to end a toxic pattern or shift when you know you need to. Symptoms and unusual patterns come to light, and while we may not see them, others around us may take notice. Behavioral symptoms include changes in riskiness, aggressiveness, drinking, sleeping, and eating patterns. Psychological symptoms include anxiety, depression, sadness, or worry. Physiological symptoms include chest pains, headaches, skin rashes, dizziness, backaches, and digestive problems. These ‘symptoms’ are brought on if you haven’t made the shift that’s necessary. We sometimes need to be at this point before we realize that something is wrong, to realize we are showing signs that there is an issue that needs to be addressed. If we work backwards we can find the stressor, and therefore identify what needs to be changed.

When we then start to contemplate making that shift we experience pain and stress; the fear that we may regret our choice or make the wrong decision. This toxic thinking begins to form and thus prevents us from committing to making the required change. Pain and discomfort comes from moving away from your comfort zone and your sense of normality. Not that the current normal is good, or ok. It could in fact be very bad, but none-the-less it is our “normal” or “familiar”. To find our new sense of normal takes us through a journey that for some, can be quite difficult.

80% of the population, once they have the guts to make change, start walking, hit a wall and then turn back” ~ Just Change It, Peggy Grall.

80%. Think about that. So only 20% of us can get to the other side? Are you part of that 20%? You must remember that if you are being prompted by yourself internally there must be a reason for it. If we keep circling back to the fork in the road then isn’t it time to tune in and take the other path? Your “internal compass” is communicating with you, do you listen? You may not be able to articulate the why, but you can feel it. No person or business is alike; therefore no one has the same journey or the same reasoning for change.

break down, to break through

But once you feel it and have identified what the necessary change is, it is time to act. We must “break down to break through”. This process is absolutely necessary in order to begin our journey to the other side of change — a place that will become our “new normal” filled with potential and opportunities.

Join us next month for the third and final edition of our three part mini-series about “Voluntary Change.” PART III – The other side of change, and what it takes to get there.

mcateer-thDr. Teal McAteer is an Associate Professor in Human Resources and Management at the DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University. Dr. McAteer specializes in the areas of Leadership Development: Change and Stress Management, and Strategic Career Development.

Dr. McAteer maintains her own coaching practice offering change, stress, and career management services to organizations and on an individual basis. Her primary emphasis continues to be in helping people articulate their goals for change in their personal and professional lives, establish specific action steps with time lines, anticipate barriers to change, initiate measures to ensure accountability for actions, and embed progress measures to reach change success. To find out more about Dr. McAteer’s coaching sessions, you can contact her at mcateer@mcmaster.ca or dr-t.ca.

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