Overcoming change exhaustion: 3 tips to reclaim your enthusiasm

The prevailing belief is that people don’t like change. If that were true, no one would ever get married or have a baby.

Here’s what is true: Human beings are OK with change (sometimes) — when we are prepared for it, in control of it and see a win for ourselves at the end.

The year 2020 didn’t follow that script. That’s why the changes of the past 22 months have, in many ways, have felt exhausting (not exciting).

As uncertainty remains, back-to-office plans stumble and organizations continue to overuse the word “pivot,” it’s easy to feel depleted.

If your emotional fuel tank is running on fumes, try these three tips:

Let yourself be upset

Through years of executive coaching, I often see high-performers jump quickly into problem solving. They will leap right over the initial feeling of frustration, doubt, anger, etc., because they know: There’s work to be done. People are counting on me.

But here’s the reality. Emotions that are buried alive never die; they only fester. Stuffed down rage? Pushed aside grief? They make appearances at 2 a.m., or sometimes they just live in our subconscious (and our bodies) forever.

However inconvenient, we have to acknowledge our emotions. At work and at home, unspoken emotional undertones have a dramatic impact on our ability to communicate, problem solve and make decisions.

Repressed emotions are like energy parasites. Continuing to stifle them (consciously or unconsciously) inhibits our ability to fully show up.

So, cry it out, go for a run, dance your rage or sorrow, whatever you need to do to acknowledge how and truly feel your feelings, do it. You cannot solve problems in a state of emotional unrest, once you let your emotions flow through you, you’ll have energy for moving to the next phase.

Determine what is in your control

If you’re facing an overwhelming volume of change (i.e. everyone this year), try to focus on what is in your control. There’s simply too much “going on” for anyone to think about all of it.

I find it helpful to work through change-overwhelm by asking myself three things:

• What is fixed? (i.e. set in stone).

• What is influenceable?

• What do I control?

No matter what doom scrolling might lead you to believe, you are more in control than you think. You control your behavior, how you respond to things and the emotional wake you leave behind your interactions.

Point your mind to the elements of change that benefit from your energy.

Embrace change enthusiasm

I’ve learned a lot from Cassandra Worthy, a fellow author and LinkedIn learning instructor. She’s an expert in change management.

In our conversation, she said something that really stuck with me: What if we viewed change as an opportunity for growth?

As a self-professed control-freak, I admire the gusto Cassandra brings into the unknown. She defines change enthusiasm as, “A mindset that when practiced, presents a sense of excitement for every change challenge. It is a mindset which enables those who practice it the ability to see the value of change, thereby quickly engaging in the opportunity to evolve in the face of frustration.”

Change can be hard. It can be messy, painful and full of setbacks. It also can be a growth opportunity (when we’re ready for it to be).

The world is not slowing down. Embracing change is a decision you can make every day. So let out your frustration, safeguard your headspace and put yourself in the driver’s seat.