Thursday, December 27, 2012

Create a Personal Change Management Plan to Reduce Stress

There is an old saying that the only two sure things in life are death and taxes. However, I think we can safely add change to that same list. Even if your spouse, your job, and your house stay the same, the world changes all around you.

Earlier in the week, I talked about setting goals and creating a plan to successfully accomplish your New Year's resolutions. Most of the time, these involve making changes in our lives. When we plan for change it is often easier to deal with and make adaptations. However, when change is unexpected we can experience stress that causes symptoms that manifest in our behavior, emotions, and physical well-being. Change and the uncertainty that comes along with it can produce stress.

Since we can not always anticipate change, I suggest having a change management strategy in place at all times. By making whatever preparations you can make in advance, you can learn to better "roll with the punches" that life throws your way. Here are some ideas to help you formulate a change management plan.

  • Define your support system that consists of people you know and trust. Break down your support system into categories - such as family, friends, church, and professional organizations -  and then write down the names of all the people in each category. You will be amazed at how quickly your list of support resources grows.
  • Communicate openly. Talking with someone you trust - someone from your support system - will help you function better under the pressure of change. Select someone you find inspirational and positive so that you don't need to shoulder this burden alone and keep it all bottled up inside.
  • Clearly define your priorities and your goals. As I talked about in my post earlier this week, keeping your goals on paper helps you clearly establish your priorities and keeps you focused when you have a setback or experience unexpected change.
  • Keep yourself healthy, no matter what is happening in your life. Exercise, healthy eating habits, and sufficient sleep are important ways to manage stress and deal effectively with change.
  • Identify the problem that is causing you stress. Is it the loss of the job, the loss of the income, or the stress of going through an interview that has you most worried about your layoff? Once you know the source of your stress, you can evaluate your options and move toward finding a solution. Until then you are just spinning your wheels.

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