I had to decide.
It was the morning of the half-marathon I had signed up for, and I was still debating if I should run it or not.
If I skipped it, I could train more and just sign up for another race when I was ready. But I had my pride…
And my fear. And angst. And apprehension.
Overcome Fear of Change
Big decisions always seem to be interwoven with those three emotions. Even when we’re making a welcome change, there is an inescapable anxiety that comes when starting to do things a new way.
Preparing can help, but somehow, no matter how much training and planning we do, we can still feel overwhelmed and filled with dread.
We try to put on an appearance of confidence for those around us, but inside we are wondering how on earth we are going to pull it all off!
Below I share three simple practices to deal with big changes and the big emotions they can generate.
Interestingly, they’re the same practices I used when I was deciding if I should run that half marathon that I hadn’t adequately prepared for. Talk about fear, angst, and apprehension!
I bit the bullet. I ran the half marathon.
I could have put it off until I was better prepared.
I thought about how we can wait and wait and wait to take on a project. There is always more education, training, reading, and preparation we can do.
But at some point we need to, as Nike says, “Just do it!”
In that spirit, here’s how you can get off the starting block, move forward, and push through that fear that is holding you back.
Three Simple Practices to Deal With Change
Start out slow. I’m not a fast runner. I know that. Yet, it was still hard not to get caught up in trying to run faster as I watched others passing me. But I knew if I did I would wind up not even finishing.
Start out by choosing one area, shift, or group of employees to work with. It will give you, and those around you, the confidence you need to take on the next challenge. I see it all the time: well-intentioned people who implement huge changes throughout their entire organization, and a year later nothing has sustained. They start out sprinting and never make it to the finish line.
Be an inspiration. I love encouraging other runners along the way when they look like they need it. I even thank the volunteers who are sweeping up cups and those that are cheering the runners on. I hope that it helps them, but I know that it helps me.
When you are feeling apprehensive about what is happening—and probably when you least feel like it—find a way to encourage those around you. Mark Twain said, “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” Go to your team and tell them you appreciate their efforts. You think you do that enough. Do it more—for your team and for you.
Plan to finish strong. I started out slow because I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up a faster pace for the entire race. I’m glad I did, because in the end I was able to run fast. (Well a faster form of really slow, which is still slow!)
When you focus on sustainability right from the start, somehow the change doesn’t seem as overwhelming or scary. Instead of an intense focus on quickly implementing the change, your mindset shifts to an approach that is more purposeful and gradual. Starting with the end in mind helps you and your team design a change that will stick.
I’d love to hear from you. Have you been putting off a change waiting for the “right time”? Did you recently bite the bullet and try something new in your organization?