There's that word again - change - that keeps cropping up in my blogs. It's on my mind a lot lately since it seems like the more you want things to stay the same, the more they change. Kansas schools are going through a lot of changes with new curriculum, new evaluations, technology, and new accreditation requirements. Change is happening in my family as a graduation is looming and a wedding will follow before long. Change is happening in our church as we try to determine the best way to serve the needs of our congregation and the community too. Heck, people change too as they age. It's fun to see my grandsons change and grow up, but when you get to be my age, not all those changes are good. As a result, I must make some adjustments in my exercise and eating routines to account for some unwanted, age-related changes. Most of the time change makes things better, but it is all too apparent that change also makes us uncomfortable, because that darn box we live in just feels so right!
March is one of those months that is full of change, dramatic turns, and tests of our resolve. Even the word "march" reminds us that when people want change, they often "march" and carry signs to demonstrate their need for something different to happen. In schools during March, from preschool to the collegiate level, you find exhausted teachers and students, and probably parents too. State assessments and mid-terms are happening. In an effort to deal with their stress, they are looking forward to spring break - a change in their routine - and even that can be stressful!
Daylight Savings Time is another example of familiar change. In all but two states (Arizona and Hawaii), we go through the annual rituals of "spring forward and fall back," ostensibly to get the most out of the available daylight. Fall back doesn't feel so bad. We go to bed and get an extra hour of sleep. But spring forward? Seriously? We all need to have a spring break to get used to this one hour difference. Ironically the time change used to occur around April 1st - perhaps the biggest practical joke of all time? Now we have backed it up a couple of weeks so it occurs right when Ol' Man Winter and Spring Thaw are competing for domination. So if the weather doesn't give us enough fits with temperature extremes and indecision as to whether we should wear pants or shorts, or take along a jacket or a heavy coat, then we are dealing with sleep disorders while our biological clocks adjust to the change brought on by turning our visual clocks forward one hour. So even though we know this change is coming, and we want it to come, it is still hard for us to transition smoothly into a new season.
If change is inevitable, then what can we do to make our transitions easier?
1. Embrace the idea that change is going to happen. Being open to change in the first place helps your mindset accept change as a necessary course of action for success. Change must happen if we are to progress. How you respond to that change will ultimately determine how smoothly you transition to the new behavior, routine, or situation that results from the imposed change. Plan to be uncomfortable for a while. Plan for obstacles and failures that may happen when the change first starts. Remember that fear of change locks us into mediocrity which is the enemy of greatness. We often waste a lot of time and energy resisting change which keeps us from being great.
2. Make an effort to understand why the change is necessary. Often our resistance occurs because the answers to our "why" questions have not been resolved. Once we understand why, which includes the purpose or reason, acceptance is easier because we can square it with our thinking. "How and What" become easier to implement and achieve if we understand the motive.
3. Focus on doing things that will lead to the desired outcome, and on the benefits that will potentially occur once the change has been implemented. This mindset goes along with the idea that you get what you expect or what you think about most. My dad used to tell me, when I learned to drive, that I had to look down the road to see what was coming, and not just focus on what was right in front of me so I would be ready for whatever happens. It also helps to keep our eye on the prize. We've all seen races where the runner keeps looking back over his/her shoulder only to be caught or to stumble....those doubts and fears distract us. Hope and optimism cheer us on and keep us focused on what is in front of us! Expect success!
So this March think of all the changes that happen every day in your life and about the changes that need to happen in your life. Through what lens will you look at those changes? How will you respond? Make your March Madness be about basketball games instead of the craziness that often overwhelms us during the change process. Expect change and expect great results!