The meaning of change is to alter often, become different or distinct from what was previously (usually bad); to go (usually for the better). The dictionary says that change is a process, not an event. That’s true. But it can be hard to embrace the idea that change is not an all-or-nothing proposition. We tend to think of change as something that happens to us, not something we initiate.
But that’s not how change works at all. Change is a process. And the process of change is one in which we have some control. In other words, change is not something outside of us but something we do inside ourselves. Change is a result of our thinking and doing. And the first step towards embracing and riding the process of change is to understand what we are trying to change exactly. What is it that we want to change? Is it our circumstances? Our conditions? Our environment? Our future? Our past? Or perhaps it’s none of these things.
Types of changes
I believe there are only two types of changes in all of life; positive and negative. Positive changes make things better, and adverse changes make things worse. For example, getting older is a positive change because we get wiser, and losing a loved one is a negative change because we lose a part of our life. Let’s examine each of these types of changes in more detail and see how they apply to our personal and business lives.
Firstly, positive changes are those which make things better. If you are looking for an example of a positive change, think about the past 30-days. Despite the economy, there has been nothing but positive changes for my family and me. My health is better. My business is more profitable. The quality of our relationships is better. Our home is warmer and more inviting. OK, now let’s examine negative changes. These are changes that make things worse. When you think about the past 30-days, I’m sure you can quickly come up with examples of adverse changes in your life. Some of these changes may be big, and some of them may be small. But no matter how big or how small, every single one of them is a drag on your energy and resources. Negative changes often occur gradually. They creep up on us so subtly that most of the time, we aren’t even aware of them until they are well entrenched and tough to reverse.
Changes Beyond Our Control
Sometimes in life, no matter how much we try to avoid it, something will still happen beyond our control. Maybe we are stuck with an annoying co-worker. Perhaps we are stuck with an irretrievably broken relationship. Maybe we will always be the odd man out in a group of friends. Maybe we will never marry the person we love. Perhaps we will never become wealthy. Maybe we will always be struggling to survive. The point is this: Life sometimes deals us unfair hands, and we end up with stuff we can’t do anything. The only thing we can do about these “unfair” events is to learn to cope with them as best we can. And the way we manage these kinds of situations is by making positive changes in our lives. Here are three ways we can do this:
First, we can change the way we think about the problem. In other words, we can begin to look at the situation as an “opportunity” instead of as a “burden.”
Next, we can change the way we feel about the problem. We can begin to see the problem as something we have some control over rather than something we have no control over.
And finally, we can change the way we act towards the problem. In other words, we can begin to deal with the situation so that it becomes a more negligible (and eventually non-existent) part of our lives.
Remember these three steps when you find yourself struggling to cope with some difficult situation in your life. Use them as a guide for initiating the process of change.
Causes of changes can be internal or external:
Internal causes: These are changes that occur within us due to our thinking and doing. They include our emotions, beliefs, desires, fears, values, vision, goals, dreams, plans, resolve, and so on. All of these are the stuff of which our lives are made. They are who we are, and they determine our success or failure. No matter what business problems we have or what challenges we face in life, these are the same problems we have to solve. If we don’t like or embrace these aspects of our being, we will fail no matter what external issues we try to solve.
External causes: These are changes that occur outside of us due to something happening to us (usually bad) or because of something happening in our environment. Events such as natural disasters, acts of God, man-made disasters, accidents, wars, economic recessions, droughts, floods, pestilence, fires, storms, or even, in today’s time, a pandemic. These events are not necessarily outside of our control but can negatively impact us if we let them. If we don’t take the proper actions to protect ourselves from these events, we can suffer losses that will be financially devastating, especially in business. External events can cause a loss of customers, income loss, physical location, or even bankruptcy.
What is needed in both cases (internal and external causes) is an alteration of our thinking and a change in our behavior. An alteration of our thinking occurs when we recognize that something is wrong and see things differently. We begin to see the problem as something we can solve instead of something that is necessarily beyond our control. This is crucial as to the mentioned steps in the previous point.
By understanding the types and causes of change, I hope this will better equip you in dealing with change. We will cover in the next post about the process of change.