5 Keys To Navigating Change by David Skidmore
Navigating change is one of the more difficult things you will face in life. If you want to thrive, then navigating change well is not an option for your life. It is a necessity. I know a lot of people who find themselves thrown off track by transition, and have a hard time moving forward again. They begin to doubt themselves, and wonder if they have what it takes to move forward well in life. Sometimes, they become so fearful of change they miss they are changing into a person they never wanted to be. Change is always happening. How will you respond to change?
I believe God set change into the fabric of the universe, and it is the one constant. No day like the one before. No moment as it once was. Life is always moving forward. We don't get to choose that things change, but we always get to choose how we will go through change. Here are five things I've found to be key when I'm making big changes in life.
1. Navigate Change with Honesty. When you’re in transition, it is paramount that you are honest about where you are in transition. While this is important in all areas of life, if you gloss over the realities you are currently facing during a transition, you will most likely suffer the consequences of this later.Navigating change effectively requires difficult work. If you don’t do the difficult work now, you will have to face a lot more of it later. When you’re in transition, the change stirs up things inside of you. Take time to admit what is being stirred up inside of you. Some things in your heart you might rather not acknowledge we’ll be pressed on. Some of these may be wonderful moments you cherish, or they could be emotional wounds that haven’t been redeemed and are infected. It may be sad memories, fearful tendencies, or bitter feelings. Go ahead and recognize those. You cannot change or heal what you do not acknowledge. Transition is an excellent time to work things out with a journal, and a counselor can help you navigate these areas as well.
2. Navigate Change with Thanksgiving. Gratitude changes the climate of your own life. When you are thankful, it reminds you of the good things in your life. Transitioning with thanksgiving reminds you of what you have come through, and even acknowledges that good things come about in time from change. Does this mean that everything is something you’re thankful for? No. You don’t have to be thankful for all things, but there is something sweet about being thankful in all things. Throughout the challenges, may gratitude lead you forward. A grateful heart is a heart that can both give and receive, which is crucial during transition.
3. Navigate Change with Prayer. I can’t overstate the importance of praying through transition. Prayer is wonderful. Prayer is often abrupt, and it doesn’t need to be planned. However, writing your prayers down during a transition can be very powerful, because you can look back and see how God worked through your transition. When you face a big change in the future, you can remind yourself of how God has been faithful in the past. It is also important to remember that the Holy Spirit guides us into the goodness of God, and when we pray, we are inviting God to guide us. One of the things my Grandma says about prayer is this. “God will change the situation, God will change the other person, or God will change me.” I often find that the one being changed most through prayer is me, and I believe that is because prayer is connection with God. The more time we intentionally connecting with the Lord, the more time that God will shape us through and in our prayers.
4. Navigate Change with Guidance. Don’t try to walk through transition alone. It is important to have some friends around you who will encourage you, and some mentors who can guide you through these times. I remember some very special conversations with six of my mentors in Tulsa when my mom was diagnosed with cancer. They were both a comfort, and an encouragement to me. I see so many people trying to walk through their difficult alone. I hope you transition with some people who you can trust. By the way, if you’re not in a difficult transition, go ahead and find some mentors now. Their voices will be a blessing to you now, and when the days of change come, they can help you navigate through those moments better than you would on your own.
5. Navigate Change with Hope. When you are in transition, it is crucial to make the change with a big picture of hope in the future. When we go through difficult changes without a sense of hope, we will often do everything we can to avoid, numb, and pretend the transition isn’t happening. Real hope is one of the most powerful agents for moving through transition well. The sun will rise again, and good will come again. You are not alone, and your best days are not behind you. The best is yet to come. Don’t give up in the transition because you can’t see what’s before you. There is hope.
What would it look like if you went into transition with honesty, thanksgiving, prayer, guidance, and hope? How would you respond if you saw these as paramount to making changes in a healthy way. Imagine what you might gain from making these decisions in your transition.
Questions: Which one of these five choices is most difficult for you to do in transition? What is one specific way you could choose to incorporate that choice in the changes of life?
David Skidmore is the Creative Director for SALLT. You can also read more of his writings at www.davidskidmore.org