4 Tips to Reducing Resistance to Change

You go to your favorite restaurant and they have taken your favorite menu item off the menu. Boo hoo. You’re told by the Accounting Manager that you have to use a new expense system instead of the tried and true excel sheet you have always used.  Aargh. Your husband calls to say he won’t be home for dinner after you’ve already started cooking a feast for four (and the dog doesn’t like pot roast).  Sigh.  Change is constant and it’s making you at the very least frustrated, if not leaving you completely overwhelmed.photo-1430760814266-9c81759e5e55

In the day and age of VUCA world, an acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity, it can feel like it’s completely out of control.  Or as Nathan Bennett and G. James Lemoine wrote in their HBR article, “What VUCA Really Means for You“: Hey, it’s crazy out there!  What’s important is to not take this constant change personally.  When the client cancels or your daughter is two hours late, you internalize it as the universe striking out against you once again and you slowly start feeling helpless.  Or as Eeyore would say, “The sky has finally fallen, I always knew it would.” Resisting change requires a lot of effort and energy and, if you think about it, it’s quite futile.

Here are 4 tips to reducing resistance to change:

  1. Reduce your distractions.  I wrote in my last post that watching the news everyday increases your feelings of helplessness.  95% of what you see or read in the news is completely and utterly out of your control (and we all want control).  When your mind is constantly being distracted by news and notifications (i.e. email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), you start to feel helpless and overwhelmed.  You are primed to rebel against the next change. So when the new company initiative gets rolled out you start to think “not one more thing!”   I have turned off all my notifications on my phone except for phone calls and texts.  I’ll find out what email I have twice a day instead of constantly checking my phone.  The reduction in distractions has made me calmer and open to what might be coming next.  So if the meeting is cancelled or your boss scraps your project, you won’t fall into overwhelm.
  2. Rituals and routines.  I think I have close to 25 morning habits and I keep adding.  Weigh myself, take my medication, brush my teeth while saying affirmations, water pik, grab my sneakers, let out the dog, turn on the outside light, feed the dog, grab my phone and earbuds, sit in my swinging chair, listen to my Calm app for 10 minutes of meditation, grab a cup of coffee, move to my recliner and listen to my Whil app for mindfulness guidance for 10 minutes, wish everyone happy birthday and post a positive meme on Facebook, mental exercise with Lumosity app,  study two Spanish sections on my Duolingo app, put my sneakers on, take out the recycle, turn on my book on Audible and take a 30 minute walk, take a shower, dress, drink breakfast smoothie and head to work.  The point of all of this is that I can control these things.  I do all these things, all the time(for the most part, I don’t travel with my water pik) and I feel the rhythm.  I feel in control.  It helps be feel empowered over my day. When other people get defensive in a meeting, I am able to take it in and not react.  I respond.  So when there is an unexpected change, I just roll with it.
  3. The glass is half full.  Having a positive outlook is imperative in the VUCA world.  Kelly McGonigal wrote about this in her book called the Upside of Stress.  She recommended reframing the latest stress as a “challenge” rather than a detriment.  My husband has caught me saying, “I’m anxious about this speaking engagement” and he’ll correct me. “You mean, you are excited.”  It’s much more empowering to feel excited versus anxious.  So if the project needs to get done by 8 AM instead of next week, try thinking, “Wow, this is a real challenge, I’m excited.”  Your cortisol level will remain low and you will be able to work more efficiently.  Stress typically takes you to your primitive brain that shuts done your prefrontal cortex where you do your best thinking.  When you can reframe the change as a positive, you can recover your prefrontal cortex and get back to your best thinking.
  4. Connect with others.  As McGonigal wrote, “Connection with others activates prosocial instincts, encourages social connection, enhances social cognition, dampens fear and increases courage. You want to be near friends or family. You notice yourself paying more attention to others, or are more sensitive to others’ emotions.”  The best way to do this, if possible, is in person.  If your boss cancels the project, walk over to her office and find out the rationale behind the cancellation.  If you sit in your cube and ruminate about the change, in all likelihood your self-critic will be on steroids. “She doesn’t trust me. I’m in competent. She’s going to fire me.”  If walking into their office isn’t possible, go ahead and pick up the phone.  DO NOT EMAIL or MESSAGE.  It’s so easy to read into things too much based on the written word.  Personally connecting in person or by phone builds the relationship.

Controlling what you can control and letting go of what you can’t is the key to staying on top of the VUCA wave and not being crushed into the sandy surf.  You are only responsible for you.

How to Reignite Your Employees.

Your assistant is constantly calling in sick. Your technician seems to always be on smoke breaks. You sit in your cube gnashing your teeth frustrated because your project is going nowhere. The folks at your team meetings are passive. Disengaged. Ambivalent. There is no action. Just excuses.
It’s frustrating…isn’t it?

How to Reignite Your Employees

I have to say I stumbled on an absolutely engaging program from Franklin Covey called 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity. I facilitated this workshop a little over a month ago and we had the 5 week follow up this week. I thought the materials for the class were good but I didn’t realize how good. The rag tag team of 14 participants went from being in the 64th percentile in productivity and sky rocketed up to the 94th percentile 4 weeks after the class. That’s almost a 50 percent improvement in productivity. 50%!
Whoa. That’s incredible. Imagine what you can do with 50% more productivity. Heck, I would have been happy with 10%. That’s a lot more widgets on the sales floor. That’s a lot more customer satisfaction. And, most importantly, that’s a lot more happy engaged employees doing a good job.

So this is my take on how to reignite your employees:

1. Discern the difference between what is important versus merely urgent. Several participants said that this was a game changer. They suddenly realized that some of their actions, like quickly responding to emails ended up making them a sort of scapegoat. So the slacker coworker would call on them for help because they would respond so promptly. By being able to discern that responding quickly was taking them away from their important Quadrant 2 work and instead, spending valuable time on someone else’s frivolous Quadrant 3 distractions. When you start dedicating time to the work that is most important, everyone benefits (even the slacker if you show them how to fish). There is more meaning and satisfaction as well.

2. Don’t settle for ordinary. It may be the path of least resistance but settling for ordinary isn’t inspiring. Who wants to wake up and say, “Hey, let’s have a status quo day. Let’s not have an impact.” The benefit of this class is that the participants worked on what’s important. What is the role I want to be? Do I want to be a “spouse” or do I want to be “Kevin’s best friend”? Which do you find more inspiring? One participant decided to ditch his recliner to sit next to his pregnant wife on the sofa in the evenings. That is life changing. That is extraordinary.

3. Decide on your big rocks and give up on sorting gravel. This training has some great videos from experts like psychiatrist Dr. Hallowell, who says that when you are consistently being bombarded with constant notifications and information, you are basically firing off your fight or flight response constantly. Toxic stress is the new normal. What the participants found was that when they identified their “big rocks” or important goals and roles, it was much easier to skip the gravel. When you schedule your life with those things that are most important first, the rest seems to slide away. Several participants had scheduled working out. The impact? They said that they used to dread coming to work because of all the stress. Now that they were working out every morning, they looked forward to work. A complete flip. The engaged workforce.

4. Be the ruler of your technology. This is all about ruling your inbox. One participant said they had set up 60 rules to handle email whether it be spam, automatically forwarding messages (yes, you can do that in Outlook) and highlighting messages from important folks like your boss. Dropping emails into tasks or calendar appointments make sure that the important stuff doesn’t get lost. This was by far the area where most folks found the most saving and efficiency.

5. Fuel your fire so you don’t burn out. Several participants selected one of their important roles to be themselves. Wow. When was the last time a corporate training told you to take care of yourself first? At least a third of the class had started working with a personal trainer since taking the class. Several worked to improve their sleep. I know you might be skeptical. Why should an employer espouse self-care? Because the end result is more productive, happier employees.

I have to qualify that this group of participants were free to choose to take this class. Mandates on changes in behavior are not as effective as those who choose of their own free will. Productivity is a very personal decision. Make sure you give your employees the opportunity to choose to be reignited.

5 Ways Making Your Bed Will Make You a Better Person

Full disclosure, I am a reformed bed maker. I never made my bed as a kid, teenager, college student, newlywed or mother. Ok. I made my bed after washing my sheets, but beyond that or having company over, never. I would think, I’m so busy, there isn’t enough time, no one will know the difference. Then I dated a guy for several years who was probably best described as OCD. I learned a lot from this guy including, how to do perfect laundry (hint: hang everything immediately), how to make the perfect margarita (hint: fresh lime juice) and how to make your bed every day. Actually it wasn’t literally how to make your bed but more so the habit of making your bed. I began to appreciate the Zen of making your bed and, eventually, it became my habit as well.5 Ways making your bed will make you a better person

At least once a week, I leave the house before my husband is out of bed. When I arrive home, if the bed is not made, I feel let down. So no wonder that meeting didn’t go well. I immediately repair the situation and make the bed. Whew. Relief. As my husband says, the shui is back, as in feng shui. Feng shui is an eastern philosophy of positive energy flow. Regardless of what some Taoist said 3,000 years ago, a made bed feels better.

So here they are. The rationale behind making your bed everyday:

1. Productivity. Charles Duhigg’s, The Power of Habit says “Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.” This has been true for me. I am more productive when my bed is made. There is a sense of satisfaction that if I can make my bed, I can get all sorts of things accomplished. It’s the added advantage that it’s normally accomplished first thing in the morning and sets the rest of your day up for success.

2. Head. Karen Miller in an article called Your Bed is Your Head, says “Transform your reality. Face what appears in front of you. Do what needs to be done. Make peace with the world you inhabit. Take one minute—this minute right now—to enfold your day in dignity. Tuck in the sheets, straighten the covers and fluff the pillows.” I get this. Here is one of the largest objects in your life and it is at peace. There is space. Make your bed to clear out your head. It allows you to address those things that need to be tended to.

3. Chain reaction. Small habits start a chain reaction of big transformation. Duhigg says, “Small wins are exactly what they sound like, and are part of how keystone habits create widespread changes.” Keystone habits beget other habits so if you eat a nutritious smoothie in the morning, you skip going to Starbucks, you read a book instead of watching TV and on and on. It’s like lighting a fuse to momentum. I write better when my bed is made. I feel like exercising, eating better, working harder, being better. So a two minute task can do all that? Let’s do a temperature check. Is your bed made right now? What is the chain reaction either way?

4. Impact. In Gretchen Rubin‘s blog Make Your Bed, she says,” Especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed, picking one little task to improve your situation, and doing it regularly, can help you regain a sense of self-mastery. Making your bed is a good place to start, and tackling one easy daily step is a good way to energize yourself for tougher situations.” It seems so small. So mundane. It’s almost like it builds resilience. Hmmm. Instead of having a V-8, make your bed.

5. What is. When I first married my husband, I struggled with trying to get him to make the bed. He frequently slept later than I and my expectation was that last one out of the bed makes it. Well, this was not a priority for him. I held a lot of resentment if he didn’t make the bed. I’ve let that go. As Byron Katie posits “Love what is“. I can spend all day wishing and praying or nagging and cajoling or I can let go and love what is. Find the joy in tasks like making the bed. There are plenty of other tasks that my husband does so ‘what is’ might be me making the bed. ‘What is’ are the two minutes in my life to embrace the simple elegance of making the bed. Set yourself free and love what is.

My kids, as young adults, still don’t make their beds. And I’m not about to twist their arms. The minute they head back to college or their apartment from vacation, I head up to their rooms to make their beds. I don’t know if there can be better energy or chi by proxy through my efforts but I sleep so much better knowing that in the bedrooms above me, there is order and space. Do you make your bed on a regular basis?