Let’s review. The main cost of enhancing your well-being is dealing with the changes that come with it. To many people, change is scary and causes chaos, like a dragon. However, just like Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III in Cressida Cowell’s book How to Train Your Dragon (2003), you can tame the mythical fire-breath dragon of change that stalks workers everywhere.
Problems Associated with Change
One way is to be aware of common problems that arise with change. Before you begin working on specific well-being issues, make sure that you have clearly identified what you want to change; why you want to change it? When, where and how you will make the change? Write it down. Use the five basic elements of news reporting – what, why, where, when, and how. Be your own reporter and keep a well-being journal.
Second, remember that you are human. Be prepared to deal with negative thoughts and feelings as they arise. They are evidence of your natural resistance to change, even when it is for the better.
Third, be patient. We live in a culture where “instant gratification is not fast enough.” Your well-being is not a quick fix; it is a continuous process that takes time and perseverance. Things may not always go smoothly, and you will be disappointed occasionally. My friend Ernest is a social worker, and he is fond of saying, “There is no such thing as a bad experience if you learn from it. Be patient and learn from your mistakes.
Fourth, learn to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty. Often, you must make decisions with only partial information, and this is where your work experience is useful. When an issue comes up, do not make a snap decision. Emotions drive these decisions. Instead, take a few moments to recall similar experiences. Take a look at what did and did not work. Use those experiences to ask yourself or other questions to help resolve the uncertainty. Remember, one of the benefits of positive well-being is cognitive flexibility. So, use these change situations to exercise your problem-solving abilities.
Finally, use self-control in the heat of conflict. As you have seen, change situations are emotional, even when it is only one person changing. Be prepared for possible negative reactions as you work on your well-being. It is important to maintain good working relationships by avoiding emotional explosions or anger.
Life is Change
Change is part of life and almost always frustrating. In fact, Heraclitus of Ephesus, an ancient Greek philosopher (535 – 475 BC) talked about change. He said, “No man steps in the same river twice.” As the water flows downstream, the river changes and the modern workplace is a lot like a river. It is constantly changing. You have the choice of going with the flow, being battered upon the “rock and shoals of change” in the river; or accepting change and use it to your advantage.
Organizational changes give you the opportunity to practice the well-being skills you are developing. For example, rather than resisting change and complaining about it, accept it as a fact of life. Ask questions and find ways to use your strengths and skills in the change process or look for opportunities to develop new skills.
A Final Thought
“Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.” ~ Robert C. Gallager
When faced with change, how we think about it determines whether it balloons into a dragon that devours us or evolves into an ally that ensures success. The choice is yours.
- What are some other costs that may be related you your well-being activities?
- How do you think you co-workers will respond to the changes you are making?
- What can you do to help them?