Change is one thing we can always count on in life. Sometimes it comes fast and swift and other times change sneaks up on us. Change also varies in that it can be a good change that we can be grateful for or a bad change that negatively impacts our life. As a new semester is starting for my teaching at the college I found myself thinking about change. Also as my daughter begins college this is a change in our family life and her life.
I found myself pulling off my bookshelf a book I had read years ago, You Can Excel In Times Of Change by Dr. Shad Helmstetter. I want to share today just a few of his ideas on how we can make the most of change in our lives. The important part of change is how we react. All change has an impact on our lives either bringing good feelings or debilitating us. Loss especially in death of a loved one is a change that is hard to let go of. Especially when the death is unexpected -- the change of having that person gone can create a shock that is difficult to overcome. In the same vein job loss is a difficult change to overcome. There is a sense of life is not fair that can take over and hold people in responding to the change by negatively keeping stuck in the pain.
Dr. Helmstetter in this book brings out that many of the changes that occur in our lives when we look at the causation, is often out of our control. But the outcome of the change is controlled by our choices to be responsible in the face of change or irresponsible and staying stuck. He brings out the point that people who make it a habit of being responsible in their lives handle changes better. Those who hold on to excuses and blame often stay stuck longer or go backwards when faced with change.
A key element in our response to change is our attitude. Again we may not be in control of the change agent that affected our life. In response, though we have a choice to shape our attitude in a positive or negative way. Our attitude is a powerful force we can control to make good come from even the worst changes that may occur. Successful people and people who overcome great odds when their lives are examined; their success comes back to the positive attitude they carry in their life.
To excel and take charge of change Dr. Helmstetter encourages the reader to go beyond attitude to change your perception to the resulting future of your choices about the change. Write down and create mental pictures of the next steps in your life journey beyond the change. List the positive things that you want to move towards. Create goals to go after what you want to gain for a better life. If this is not done he says we can stay stuck in what he calls just an average life, just ok. Not a life that is succeeding.
Dr. Helmstetter gives a couple of examples of what he is getting at. He describes a couple that move their mother-in-law in with them with an initial attitude to get to know her better. But in not moving beyond attitude they begin to resent her being there and life turns negative. A young woman takes French classes with an attitude to learn so as to travel to Europe. She never goes beyond the initial attitude and never travels. She keeps a nagging regret of why she took the classes in the first place. So there needs to be a choice to move beyond being stuck by changes. A choice is needed to move beyond living just average or what I call living more than ok.
Reflection: What changes are you facing in life? Is it a new change or a change from the past still holding you? Reflect on your attitude about the change. List what can happen if you choose a positive viewpoint of the change. Create a mental picture of future positive possibilities you can move towards in your life.