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How to Overcome the Fear of Change

In the current climate you might have been made redundant like thousands of others around the country. It feels hard. It’s a change that you don’t know if you can make work. But rather than see it as a mountain you have to climb without a harness or an ocean you must swim across, think of it as an exciting challenge with a potentially happy ending. Make it work. Yes, it’s a big task to take on, but it’s doable. Most people can expect to change careers nine times during their working lives. Rather than let your ‘what ifs?’ have negative connotations, use them to push yourself forward.

Change is a daunting concept. Modifying your routine and altering your life can feel overwhelming. Yet you’re changing daily; your taste buds are craving something different, your hair grows slightly longer, even your mood inherently changes as time passes. That’s natural change which happens slowly, often without us even noticing – and that change works. 

Active change can work too if you want to, or have been told you have to, do it. Have you been advised that you must alter your diet or lifestyle for your health? That you need to move more, quit smoking and drink less? The initial change might have been unpleasant for you, but from those actions came positive changes in your life. Maybe you finally felt fitter, more satisfied by doing something new and unusual. Maybe you even enjoyed it. Taking change in your stride and building a new routine is a symbol of conquering your fears and leaving your comfort zone behind. That’s when you’ve made change work.

Sometimes we know we ‘should’ change, but resist because we don’t want to. If you know you ‘must’ tidy your room and do so by kicking the clutter under your bed and shoving clothes into the cupboard, the only change you make is on the surface. You’re not fooling anyone but yourself. The giant mess still exists. Conversely, when you feel the need for change but suppress it, subconsciously you will start to feel more negative about your reality. Incorporating changes, even in the smallest of capacities, can seem exhausting but will make your life richer and more satisfying. Usually, the biggest part of your life, your career, is the place where you feel most apprehension about taking leaps of faith and yet it’s where change can be needed most.

So, when do you know if you need a career change? Is it because you wake up every morning for weeks in a row dreading going to work? Or because yesterday was your birthday and it’s a nudge that you’re getting older and life is passing you by? And what if it wasn’t your choice at all and you’ve found yourself unemployed, disoriented and in shock.

Can you recall the first major change in your life? What was the event which altered your whole reality and seemed totally out of your control? My first shock was when I was expelled from school in the middle of my ‘A’ Levels. Even though I’d disliked my school intensely and been begging my parents to let me leave, having the decision taken out of my hands made me feel abandoned, worthless and completely directionless. Looking back, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. It made me resilient, independent and courageous. One of the things it did for me was to give me the confidence to go freelance from a very early age.

Like being expelled from school, in the current climate you might have been made redundant like thousands of others around the country. It feels hard. It’s a change that you don’t know if you can make work. But rather than see it as a mountain you have to climb without a harness or an ocean you must swim across, think of it as an exciting challenge with a potentially happy ending. Make it work. Yes, it’s a big task to take on, but it’s doable. Most people can expect to change careers nine times during their working lives. Rather than let your ‘what ifs?’ have negative connotations, use them to push yourself forward. 

One of the tools I wish I’d known about when I was younger is the Medieval Wheel of Fortune. It’s a symbolic wheel illustrating the unpredictable nature of life, change and fate. It shows how, in order to make change work, you have to trust the process. Fortune, shown as a woman, moves the wheel and we are powerless to get off it or change the direction in which it’s going. Thinking about a career change, you may well begin by falling off ‘happiness’ (at the top of the wheel) and moving into loss (at 3 ‘o’ clock) where the big shock of change sits, and then into suffering (at 6 ‘o’ clock) when you really become aware that your life is being affected by redundancy and all that entails. Finally, there is hope (at 9 ‘o’ clock) when progress begins being made and interviews kick in or you design your first business card. You conclusively circle back to success at the top of the wheel when you get a new job and all your hard work bears fruit. The wheel needs to take its time and it can go around and around, but change can’t be forced or opposed and nor can its accompanying emotions. It’s the natural progression of life. 

Representation of the Medieval Wheel of Fortune

When something feels out of our control, change is difficult. It’s normal to feel lost and in need of direction. And it’s vital to look after yourself physically and spiritually. Ask yourself what will help you get closer to the centre of Fortune’s wheel where the turn of the wheel will affect you less? What calms you down and makes you feel positive about life? Simple things like going for a swim, chatting to a friend or even trying out a new recipe can make you feel happier. And, when you’re feeling stuck in loss or suffering, allow yourself to grieve, treat yourself kindly and do what you can. Ahead of you is hope and you will get there. After all, monotony might feel comfortable, but change is where the real excitement of life lies. Even if you’re on the fence about making a big move towards something new, have confidence and know that you can make any and every change work for you. 

How can you actively begin making change work? Get organised and be prepared, look after yourself – do small overdue tasks, anything that you can do to rebuild your confidence. If, for example, your cv is completely outdated but you just can’t seem to face it, why not set a day to tackle it? Your mind will be put at ease, no longer preoccupied with the lack of fulfilment that procrastination produces. You’ll have a cv and you can concentrate on making real change happen.

Then, when you’re feeling more confident, you can create a strategy as to how you’re going to move forward. Give yourself the space to make mistakes. Maybe your application gets rejected from the first job you applied to or you choke during your interview. Rather than dwelling on the things that go wrong, think of how you can avoid repeating your mistakes and try again. Know your strengths and your downfalls, then own them both and stride confidently into the future with a plan in hand.

Rebrand your definition of change. It doesn’t have to be stressful, it can be an exciting beginning of a new journey. I loved the next school I went to and the people I met there. Maybe you will have a negative experience somewhere but allow that to make you keener to create change. Get used to life not being monotonous so the next shock will never be as great again – so you never get complacent in ‘happiness’. Make change work.


5 hints to make change work:

  1. Be proactive – Unexpected changes can be a shock to your system, so keep doing things differently even if life is going well. Don’t allow the unexpected to be a shock.
  2. Mourn for the past – Endings can be melancholy and giving yourself time to grieve what’s lost allows you to close the chapter and move on.
  3. Family and finances – Don’t turn a blind eye on the most important things. Tackle problems early on for everyone’s wellbeing.
  4. Prepare for the future – Preparation is key to avoiding future shocks, make change work by feeling as good as you can about yourself at all times. 
  5. Check out the LifeClubs shop – Whether you want to learn about yourself, engage in some life or career coaching or find helpful and affordable materials about how to begin your next career again, you can find it when you Shop at LifeClubs! https://shop.lifeclubs.co.uk/

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