Why is Change so Scary?
I have made the difficult decision to retire at the end of 2019 after a lifetime of pretty much doing the same job. I must say it’s a job I love and have felt blessed and privileged to have done. However, after 42 years in education and 28 years as a school principal there comes a time when you have to ask yourself the question ‘now that I have finally left school what do I want to do with myself?’ Just as importantly I need to learn how to cope with significant change in my life.
Let’s deal with easy question first – that of what to do with myself. As my wife and I are both retiring, we have plans to travel, to spend more time with family, to babysit our grandson and pursue the many interests and hobbies that we haven’t got around to. That part all looks fine as we have stacks of books that we haven’t begun, a bucket list of things that we want to do and opportunities to catch up on Netflix shows that we have seen one episode of and never returned to.
The bigger question is how to cope with significant change in our lives. This is an issue faced by many people, not just people preparing for a significant life change. I suspect it’s also an issue that people struggle with.We know that we all need to change in order to grow. Change is one of life’s constants and we can’t grow if we aren’t open to change.Change in our lives is a continuous process that never ends. However, dealing with change can sometimes be uncomfortable, stressful and even scary.I have listed a few strategies that I am testing around this whole area of change.
1. Slow down
To change our lives we need to take time to think and reflect. This is one of the hardest things to do, as many of us are always busy and we don’t take time to think about our lives, let alone change them. We need to slow down and make room for change. As Eddie Cantor, a well-known Broadway star of days gone by says, “Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”
2. Be willing to change
A willingness to change is another important step. Each of us needs to realise that it’s our life and we are the only ones that can change it. If we aren’t willing to change, then nothing in this world will make a difference. To build the willingness to change we need to realise that life can be even better than it is now.
3. Celebrate the positives
Even though it can be tough, focusing on the positives can really help us manage change. While the positive aspects of a change might not be obvious to begin with, it’s worth seeking them out – no matter how small they might be.
4. Manage our stress
Improving our ability to handle stress will go a long way in helping to deal with change. Strategies such as mindfulness and meditation, or engaging in other relaxation techniques, are not only helpful, they can also be great for our overall wellbeing.
5. Have the right expectation
Having the right expectation from the beginning is important. Otherwise, it’s easy for us to be discouraged when things don’t go as expected. Change takes time, especially if we want the change to last. Having the right expectation prepares us to be persistent in difficult times.
While there are many other strategies and helpful hints that assist in dealing with change, the few outlined above will keep me focused on my upcoming change for the next few months. It is also giving me an insight into what our Year 12 girls are going through at the moment as they also contemplate a new beginning as they prepare for the HSC and life after school.
Dr Frank Pitt
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