Have you ever decided to clean out a closet or a room and you start and all of a sudden it looks way worse than the mess you were trying to remedy?
It happens to me all the time. Sometimes knowing this makes me even reluctant to start. Once I do start it can even be a bit daunting.
Then I realized that this happens when I make changes, too.
Changes never happen in a bubble and while we are looking for positive results we get this chain reaction of change- almost like a snowball rolling down hill, gathering more change as it goes- that can be very disorienting.
For example, if someone decides to change their diet they have to deal with a host of other changes as well. They will have to change how they shop for food. They may need to educate themselves about food choices. They may have to change their habits about when or how often they eat. It’s almost never just one change. Sometimes even the smallest step towards change can start off this snow ball (link). However, it seems the bigger the change, the bigger the snowball.
There are things that can be done to keep it from being a little overwhelming.Even when we welcome change it can be scary. Click To Tweet
Prepare or Accept
If this is a self-motivated change then we should prepare for it. We need to think it through as much as we can and get our ducks in a row. Do a little planning and get ourselves mentally and/or physically prepared for what we know is coming. When we prepare there are less surprises. Less surprises can reduce any anxiety that is going on. After all, even when we welcome change it can still be scary.
If the change has happened without our consent (job loss, change in health, etc) we have every right to have our pity party but then we have to accept what our current situation is all about. We can’t make any positive change if we live in a world of “What if?” or “If Only…”. It is what it is and we have to deal with it from that point of view.
Take some time to evaluate what is working and what isn’t working anymore. This could be habits, routines, the physical set up of our surroundings, or the way we manage our time. We have to take time to identify this or we will continue to spin your wheels.
This step can be the hardest. Sometimes we are so deep in it we have a hard time being objective. If we need help with this, a trusted friend or mentor can tell us what they see. We need to be open to hear what they have to say. While not all advice may be something we can use they may have insight that we do not.
I find that usually when I am the most frustrated, that is a time where I need to self-evaluate to see what it is I am doing that isn’t working and address it. For example, I work mainly from home unless I am physically teaching a class somewhere. Working from home has its own unique sets of problems. For me it is often a guilt filled tug of war between “Business Work” and “Family Work”. If I am doing one I feel like I should be doing the other.
This frustrated me. I was suffering from what I call ‘Wonder Woman Syndrome’- trying to do it all. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t multitask myself to success. I reassessed and realized that I couldn’t concentrate my effort if my brain was focused on two things at one time. So I made a rule to start the day with a house chore, then work, then do another chore before I took a lunch break, then work, then do another chore at dinner time. This worked great to alleviate the guilt and provided me with built in breaks so I don’t get burnt out with either my work or my home obligations. This is now the protocol when I am working from home. The frustration eased up.
It is easy for us to justify why something isn’t working. It’s easy to justify why we can’t. Maybe we can’t work out because there is no one to watch the kids. Maybe we can’t cook more often because we are too tired. Maybe we aren’t being as productive at work because others keep coming into our office and interrupting the flow. Those are distractions that perhaps need a little creativity to solve but can be addressed if we indeed want them to be addressed.
We can work out at home so we don’t need a sitter. We can make two meals at one time and save another meal for another day and cut our cooking time in half. Maybe if we just shut the office door, this will be a deterrent for all but urgent questions.
I recently realized that my biggest distractions were email and social media, two “necessary evils” in my life. I would try to get it out of the way first thing in the morning but it was like a black hole for me. I just couldn’t get out of it. I had an epiphany that I am most productive during the hours of 6am-10am and that I didn’t want the email and social media eating up all my good energy. So I made a rule.
My new rule is that I am not allowed to answer email or social media….no matter how much my phone is binging at me…until after 10 am. This was like a miracle cure for me!!! I am getting so much done simply because I am using all that good energy for things that make more of an impact. When I don’t follow the rule, I am always sorry that I didn’t.
Rearrange the Environment
Many times when a change snowball hits us we haven’t got our environment ready. Maybe we need to change our office and set up new systems that reflect the new things that are coming. Maybe we need to get our fridge and pantry diet ready. Maybe we need to carve out a new space for a new activity or acquire a new tool or simply rearrange things so it is easier to work.
Sometimes we also need to modify our environment simply for our attitude and our mental health. Some may need a little color in their life to do their best and some may need something neutral. Each dilemma is easily solved with a can of paint. One person may crave an open space to work while another may crave a door. Many people benefit from being surrounded by things that make them comfortable. Maybe more light or less light would help. It is all very personal but if it impacts our attitude and well-being it is an important component.
We don’t always get it right the first time. It is important to keep trying new things to see what works for us. It may mean starting from the beginning again. Just keep at it until you are comfortable again.
Change is always happening whether we are conscious of it or not and sometimes it is slow (every day we are a little bit older) so in many ways this is just an on-going process.
Photo credit: Andy Maquire
Have you ever been caught up in a Change Snowball? How did you handle it?