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Home > Podcast, Show > Archive: Change — one small step at a time – -from the Career Opportunities Podcast

Archive: Change — one small step at a time – -from the Career Opportunities Podcast

December 6th, 2013

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Everyone it seems, from business pundits, book authors and your spouse, knows that change is important in our lives. We all need to change, sometimes on a daily basis, in order to address the pressing issues of life and work. No matter how important we might see change, though, change is tough. Our own innate sense that “change=danger” triggers feelings of fear from deep within our usually rational mind. This fear can cause us to avoid the very changes that would most improve our lives. Change can feel overwhelming and can paralyze us in place, unable to make any move in any direction. One way of breaking through this paralysis, though, is to break our changes into smaller, manageable parts, much as you should do with any project.

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When we look at our lives we often only see the huge projects that loom before us. We need to find a house, or a school for our children, a new job, or a new relationship. The fact is, you can’t “do” any of these things. They are simply too huge a concept to conceive. This is where we set ourselves up for failure. We can’t find a handle to grasp these projects, so we don’t make any progress on them at all. We can’t find a way in, so we sit outside the door, wondering what to do next.

The next step, of course, is breaking them down into smaller parts that we can handle. If we are looking for a new house, attack the question of where you might like to live first. Searching for a new job? You need to do some thinking about what type of work you most enjoy. Every change, every project, every task, has some similar entry point. If you want to make any progress at all, you have to find this “handle” that allows you to grasp the problem. Only then can you start to turn it over in your mind.

The Change Challenge

We all have something that we want or need to change in our life — something that has been weighing on our mind for weeks, months or years. Let’s take the month of May — a typical time of growth due to the sense of Springtime opportunity — and focus on change. Start thinking today about one major change you need to make, in your life or your work, and focus on making that change a reality. This need not be some dramatic, outward, change. Sometimes, changing our own internal thoughts can be one of the most important changes. Now, take a few moments away from work friends and family and think about your change. Address the change directly and don’t be afraid. You may have been unable to address this change in the past, but today you are going to find a way forward.

Look for ways to break down the change into smaller, more manageable, parts, just as I discussed above. Get it down to one or two physical actions that you can take, today. For example, maybe you need to call someone for more information. Perhaps you need to research property values or other information about a neighborhood you drove through the other day. There is no need to try and think about the whole project. Instead, you want to reduce this big change down to a series of cranks you can (somewhat) mindlessly turn. David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, calls this “widget cranking mode.” You don’t concern yourself with the overwhelming thoughts and actions, you reduce the project to a series of “widgets” you can crank that, almost miraculously, move you forward on a particular project.

Take the Change Challenge this month and find a way to move forward in your life and career. We all have some change that we need to face. Perhaps together we can find a way to move everyone forward, one small step at a time.

 

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