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noun: the act or instance of making or becoming different.

"There is nothing permanent except change." — Heraclitus.

There is no new information here. So why is it that one of life’s absolute certainties “CHANGE” can be the cause of so much stress and anxiety in every area of our lives, especially our work?

You would think that since we know that change will continue to happen no matter how much we fear or complain about it, wouldn’t it make sense to figure out a better way of handling change instead of resisting it?

Change happens in every part of our lives from the day we are born. We are constantly changing as individuals and so is the entire world around us. This affects every single area of our lives - from our minds and bodies to our relationships, our careers, and everything in between.

Why are we so shocked by something so predictable? I have spent so many hours of my life (too many to admit) worrying about change and feeling anxious about the future especially when it came to my career. I know most of you that are reading this are in positions where your performance is tied to a specific number, as it has been for me for the past 29 years.

Whether I had an individual quota, leading a team in my corporate career, running a business where I was solely responsible for every single dollar that came in and went out or I was answering to investors for my tech startup - my career has always been tied to a number and that number and the circumstances surrounding it only had one certainty… CHANGE.

I spent MANY nights laying in bed wide awake stressing about work trying to anticipate possible changes and how I would handle them if and when they happened. Although I do not have any regrets in life, the one thing I would go back and do differently if I could would be to not waste time planning for things that never happened. Once I learned how to master change everything in my life improved and became easier, especially with my work and whatever number was tied to it.

I know, I know you are probably thinking it is much easier for me since I run my own company to handle change but that is not true. I have had the luxury of vast experience from corporate, to small business, to tech start-up, to building my own personal brand and regardless the fear of change had always impacted me.

I'm not sure if many of you know this but I do not watch the news. I used to be consumed with watching multiple news outlets and even listening to it while driving a carpool back in the day. When I started to meditate 5 years ago I decided to take a break from the news and listen to books and podcasts instead. Well... I am still on a break and show no signs of going back.

Shockingly, I find that I am not any less informed but I am a lot less stressed. Somehow I always manage to have the information that is relevant to me and my business and I do not miss the news one bit. That being said I am fully aware of the economic climate.

Layoffs dominate the headlines and the minds of so many. From Meta to Disney and everyone in between making changes in the workforce. Stress has become a baseline for many and we have no idea what the long-term effects are from the bank closures which adds a whole other layer.

Leadership as well as individual contributors are feeling the pressure. In many cases, quotas are being raised while teams are getting smaller. Even writing that made me feel pressure and brought me back to my days in corporate sales. I had seen it all, the exec of the 90s, the boom, new comp plans with a focus one year on market share, and the next year it was all about profitability and multiple recessions and economic crisis.

I was a director at a tech startup during 9/11 and watched our entire company change in one week - from projections to the workforce to product development.

When I ran my small business I went through the highest highs and the lowest lows. From hours where we would sell over $10,000 of pizza slices, to the Boston Marathon bombing where we took shelter in place and fed the entire community without opening a register.

So, you would think that I was probably really good at handling change. NOPE. As I got more experienced the worse it became.

It wasn’t until I went through breast cancer in 2019 that I woke up and realized that all the additional stress I was creating for myself was killing me. So I made a conscious decision to CHANGE how I handled CHANGE. I learned many things from my cancer but the most important and liberating thing I learned is that by accepting what is - I can truly live a life that is easier and happier. Period.

You don’t have to wait for a life-threatening disease to make this adjustment. Once you commit to something it becomes a way of life. We often feel that our life’s circumstances are in control of our lives. Once I flipped that around and changed how I saw things then the things I saw changed.

This is how I did it…

I switched off my victim mentality. I took responsibility for my life and everything in it. I accepted that things change and most of the things I was stressed and worried about had very little to do with me but more to do with others making decisions that impacted me.

My baseline was to blame someone else because of a change that had occurred and I would focus on how I wished it was different. Boy did I waste a ton of time and energy complaining, stressing, and crying. I had given all my power away to others so change became even harder for me to handle.

I had gone through a life where I was always reacting and thinking things were happening to me. Every time something changed and it didn’t go the way I wanted it to go it took me down a rabbit hole of chaos.

Cancer taught me how to change that. It taught me to change my emotional reaction to change. It taught me that I had to accept things that were out of my control as they are and to shift all of my focus onto myself and the things that I could control.

I stopped talking about things with people for the sake of talking. I reevaluated who I talked with and about what.

I stopped complaining. Period. (My clients can relate to this as it is the only rule I have when you work with me – NO COMPLAINTS).

I moved on from people and things that were going to suck me back into my old patterns and feared change themselves.

I let go of thinking I had it all figured out and instead looked at every change as an opportunity to learn something and become better – no matter how uncomfortable it seems at the time.

Start with one of these and focus on it for the next 30 days. Once you have mastered that move on to the next one.

Set up a buddy system to keep you accountable so you don’t fall back into your old patterns. Pick someone in your life you trust and who wants to improve and have a weekly 30-minute check-in to keep you both on track!

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