Managing Change

As adults, many of us become fairly set in our ways. The plain fact is that most of us prefer "the same" to different. The good old apple pie we've always eaten just seems to taste better than the best new gourmet apple dessert. New York may have its problems — difficult, dirty, changed from what it was like in the old days — but most of us believe that living here is a better option than living any place else. And for good reason — here is where our friends are, perhaps even our families so why even think about living elsewhere.

There are many changes that confront us, however, that we would be able to deal with in much more positive ways if the whole issue of having to face changes in our lives were not so frightening.

There are steps you can take to reduce both the fear and the stress that so often accompanies change. The first step to accepting constructive change is to evaluate how you feel about change. The following questionnaire may help you evaluate some of your perhaps negative and perhaps ambivalent feelings about change. Work quickly. You will get an estimate about your attitude toward change by reading each statement and quickly checking whether it is true or false for you. There are no right or wrong answers — only your answers.

Question True False
1. A rolling stone gathers no moss.
2. I always stick to the same brand of toothpaste.
3. For all its faults, no city is as wonderful as New York.
4. I think that loyalty is one of the most important qualities a person can have.
5. I often feel dissatisfied with my life.
6. I think it's better to be safe than sorry.
7. I think that ambitious people hurt others.
8. I don't like telling people what to do.
9. The tortoise always wins out over the hare.
10. I have already realized my life potential.

In this quiz, the more questions you've answered true, the higher your security quotient and the more difficult you may find the changes that we all have to face many times during our lives.

9 - 10 True: You love security more than you long for change.
6 - 8 True: You are cautious but will sometimes let change happen.
3 - 5 True: You are often willing to opt for change.
0 - 2 True: Change is a valuable challenge.

Now, taking your change quotient into account, read and think about the three point plan outlined below. Whether circumstances present you with serious personal change or not, this plan can help to make change easier.

I. Observe and analyze: What's new in this scene and what is your role? Would you like to have a different role than the one you now have or imagine you will have? If so, what are some of the ways you can change your role and make it better for you?

II. Question your inner response: Think of a situation in which you are or have been faced with the need to change. Maybe you have had to adapt to a daughter or son-in-law that you don't really like; maybe someone close to you is moving away or has already moved. Whatever it is, don't react except on an inner level. Then ask yourself if your inner response is appropriate to the situation. Does it need to be modified in ways that your stress has blinded you to? Will that reaction, if expressed, lead to a better outcome? If so, express that inner response. If not, allow yourself enough time to evaluate how your as yet unexpressed feelings can be modified.

III. Make a plan: Discuss your situation with someone you trust -- son, daughter, spouse or good friend. Tell that person how you have analyzed the situation and why. Let him/her know how you feel about it and what you think you'd like to do. Get their feedback and then make a plan about how and when to proceed. Armed with your knowledge about how you react to change and then following this three step plan may free you from impulsive behavior or a refusal to act that could prove destructive to you. It can also help you to deal more productively with future changes that may confront you.