Principles of Change: The Fifth of Nine

Quick Acceptance of Change Lessens the Pain

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Ariane de Bonvoisin
Ariane de Bonvoisin
I've interviewed thousands of people going through all types of change -- job loss, divorce, a cancer diagnosis, a baby, a new business -- and I've noticed some very similar patterns, behaviors and attitudes in people who are good at change. I've discovered nine principles, and I'll highlight one of them in each of my columns in the next few months. Here, then, is the next one:

Principle 5: People who successfully navigate change know that the quicker they accept a situation, the less painful it will be.

Resisting change is never the answer, and yet, we all do it. We resist the new boss, we resist the expense cuts, we resist the new strategy from the top or job responsibilities we didn't really sign up for. We resist that we lost money, we resist that we are getting older. But as one of my favorite quotes says, "When you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time!" (Byron Katie)

More Principles of Change
People who successfully navigate change give themselves permission to be human. They feel their emotions and know how to move through them.
People who successfully navigate change know they are resilient, strong and capable of getting through anything. Period.
The Change Guarantee: From this situation something good will come.
People who successfully navigate change have positive beliefs.

But quick acceptance of change does lessen the pain. The image I like to share is of being in a river. Change is about going in the direction of the river. What makes change hard is when something we don't quite expect or see as positive happens, we desperately cling to a rock; we don't know how things are going to turn out so we prefer keeping things at least as they are; we don't switch gears; we don't focus on what to do now, but instead beat ourselves up; or, worse, we start rowing back upstream -- we want the team back, the job back, the relationship back.

Remember this: Everything that is right for you now is ahead of you, downstream. We often longingly look back to how things were. Let go of the way life should be, or work should be or the company should be. The quicker you can get to a place of accepting whatever has happened, the easier it will be. Don't resist the momentum, even if it looks totally different than what you were planning.

Acceptance comes in two forms: accepting yourself and accepting whatever may be happening, personally, professionally, financially. Accepting yourself means allowing yourself to be human, to not get it right, to make a bad decision, to miss out on an opportunity or deal, accepting how you look, your strengths and weaknesses. How much time do we waste beating ourselves up, kicking ourselves, telling ourselves negative stuff. Ask yourself, what part of yourself don't you accept?

Then, ask yourself what you still need to accept in your life: that you missed out on the stock rally, or you've put on weight, or that you were dumped or fired. When we resist, we give these situations more power. When we don't accept something, it's like trying to drive forward with the parking brake still on.

Finally, ask yourself who you need to accept -- whether it be your spouse, boss, annoying colleague or parent. When people around you feel accepted, that's surprisingly when they then start to change. For anyone you are having a challenge with right now in your life, focus on accepting them completely instead of hoping they will change.

Allow things to be as they are; on the other side of that is where change really happens.

Ariane de Bonvoisin shares her change secrets in a free daily e-mail. Her book, "The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Making Any Change Easier," is now available in paperback. She can be reached on Twitter: @clickariane.
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