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Change and Expectations

For most of my life, I have taken great pride in being flexible and for my willingness to embrace change. I saw it as a hallmark or personality and character.

But, what I’ve come to realize is that there is more nuance to this idea than I had considered.

When we talk about the ability to embrace change, or the flexibility to roll with changes, I think there are a few different things that we can mean, and they may quite different from one another.

Change as Evolution

One of the ways we might think of change is like evolution. Something happens, a mutation of some sort, or a decision that is made, and a new branch is created. It is something that alters a long-term expectation or plan.

In this scenario, change is viewed on the macro scale. It can be anything from a shift in a company policy to seismic shift in society.

In this context, to embrace change involves a willingness to be open minded and evaluate how you might adapt to these new circumstances. It allows for careful contemplation of the change.

These are more proactive changes or, at the least, slow moving reactions.

Change as Interruption

a couple of road signs sitting on the side of a road

Another way we might think of change is on a smaller, more immediate scale. This is a change of plans that affect a present experience. It is something that alters a near-term expectation or plan.

This is…

  • a meeting getting canceled
  • a new item being added to the agenda
  • your route home requiring a detour around construction.

These sorts of changes require the ability to quickly shift your expectations and adapt logistically and emotionally to new information that alters immediate plans.

These are reactive changes.

The Source of Change

Another big factor is where the change comes from.

  • Changes that we initiate ourselves are often much easier to grasp and swallow.
  • Change that is forced upon us is typically more likely to be resisted.
  • Change that is inevitable or beyond our control are usually either brushed off or obsessed over.

How we relate to and manage each of these can be dramatically different from one another. Knowing which type of change you suffer through versus those you thrive under, can be a key to unlocking more attractive possibilities in your future.

Navigating Change

I have long been an advocate of consistent growth to the active self-awareness. I think understanding how we manage and deal change is one area where we can level up and grow should we choose to better understand ourselves and our patterns.

At the same time we have a number of aspirational cultural values and virtues that are passed on to us, without our consent, and we would be wise to examine those ideas. Whether it’s the belief that self-reliance is a virtue, or that being open to change is a good thing, or that we should force ourselves to muscle through discomfort, we need to ponder whether or not the idea resonates.

What I have realized is that while I am quite comfortable with larger changes in my world, I generally do not react as well to changes in my immediate circumstances.

Because of my ADHD, I struggle to understand time. Because of my Autism, I have a strong need for routine. The combination of these factors means that small changes to my day can have significant consequences and may be very disruptive to my ability to function or thrive.

At the same time, because of these same factors, longer term changes are easier to wrap my head around. I have time to process the change and make plans for how I might adapt or choose an alternate path.

Today, I want to encourage you to look at the role change plays in your life, and which kinds work for you and don’t work for you. It’s not a simple binary of being good or bad with change. It’s much more useful to understand the kinds of change you are good with and the kinds you are not.

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