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  • The 4 A’s of Change

    Change is constant. As part of the personal branding process it is essential to not only survive, but to thrive in change.

    Change is constant

    To thrive you need to master the four A’s of change.

    1. Acknowledging

    Rather than jumping right into new realities, assess how change is affecting you. Reflecting on what has changed helps you assess the positive as well as the negative aspects of a change.

    What will I need to leave behind?

    Change means something has ended. Even the most positive change entails losses and negative emotions. A new job may result in the loss of an enjoyable working relationship or a marriage may lead to a change in independence or daily habits. Identifying what has changed and dealing with what has been lost is an important first step for moving forward.

    What are my anchors?

    Although sometimes it seems like everything is changing at once, everyone has some anchors to ground them during change. Your anchors may be your competencies, key relationships with friends or family, community, a home, spirituality, or other core beliefs. These anchors are an important part of who you are and how you are connected to the world. Use them to stabilize your shifting situation.

    2. Accepting

    Sometimes it seems easier to avoid change than to accept what has changed and move forward. Once we accept that change is constant we become better able to manage our own transitions.

    How will this change make things better?

    It may seem trite and overly idealistic, but opportunities do arise from change. Some people believe that people show their greatest growth and development only in times of crises and great upheaval.

    When you look for positives in change, you can find them. They will give you hope and provide a clue to how change, at some point, may result in a better future for you.

    Focus on opportunities in change after you have acknowledged and grieved your losses. Accepting and looking only at the bright side of change while ignoring or not dealing with your losses usually doesn’t work.

    Can I choose not to change?

    When changes are being imposed on you it’s tempting to resist. However, you cannot escape from change. Not accepting a change doesn’t necessarily mean the status quo will be maintained. Instead, not accepting change results in different kinds of change. You need to pick which changes are best for you. Although you can’t control the change, you can control how you respond to what is changing.

    3. Adjusting

    Dealing with change involves taking action. Although sometimes it seems like we have limited options, we can always choose to become an active participant in a change process.

    How can I participate in, rather than react to, the change?

    Once you have a heads-up that change is coming, it’s up to you to take actions to make the best of your situation. For example, losing a job is a highly disruptive change. Getting feedback on why you lost your job, starting to build a network, and ensuring you have references are much more effective actions than complaining or blaming your employer.

    You may need some time to vent (hopefully only with trusted friends in a non-public place) and deal with your loss and emotions, but then you need to accept and move on to adjusting. Put your efforts into minimizing the negative aspects and maximizing the advantages and opportunities.

    4. Anticipating

    A futurist predicts what might happen by projecting from data and trends. No one predicts the future with 100% accuracy and at times changes occur that are totally unexpected. However, there are many things you can do to anticipate possible change before it blindsides you.

    How can I figure out what is going to happen?

    Pay attention to what is going on in your field of work. Look for broader economic, social, and demographic trends. Think about how technological and social changes are influencing your sphere of interests now and how this has changed from a few years ago. Read about key influencers and evaluate the data expert futurists are using to make predictions. Talk to people and get their impressions. Align your brand with the future.

    “Our only security is our ability to change.” ~John Lilly


    Donna Dunning, PhD, is a psychologist, certified teacher, member of the MBTI ® International Training Faculty, and director of Dunning Consulting Inc. She is the author of more than a dozen publications, including her two newest books, 10 Career Essentials and What’s Your Type of Career? 2nd edition. Donna’s guiding principle is: Know yourself, respect differences, learn and grow. Follow Donna on Twitter and Facebook and visit her website.

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