Change is inevitable.

For some people change terrifies them. They would rather hide and ignore change until there really is no other alternative but to give into the change.

Other people tolerate change. They know it is part of life and yet it does not thrill them when they are asked to change something.

Finally, there are some people who LOVE change and are eager to embark on something new and different!

Which category do you fall into? I tend to tolerate change. However, I have to admit, I sometimes end up doing some kicking and screaming before getting to the point of toleration.

How you respond to small everyday changes can be a good indicator of how you will handle big scary changes that tend to come along in your life and in your small business! I’ve found that when it comes to big scary changes, our knee jerk response to change can be magnified significantly. And, sometimes it can push us into hiding mode more often than we would care to admit.

So, what can you do about facing a big scary change head on? Here are 3 steps to support you as you successfully move forward with those big scary changes:

1. Gather Information

Often a change involves something we are not 100% familiar with, so it can be helpful to gather information about the change, the benefits of making a change, the people who can help you implement this change, etc. For example, let’s say you are a small business owner considering changing the focus of your business to attract a different target market. It can be very valuable to do some research and talk to a few non-competing businesses that serve that target market to determine:

  • the viability of this new market,
  • how to reach this new market, and
  • even the language that will attract this new market.

Doing due diligence is a terrific first step for most changes.

Beware, however, of getting stuck in the “analysis paralysis” mode, which has happened to me at various times in my different careers. Using information to prevent forward movement can become a very convenient excuse!

2. Develop a clear picture of your desired outcome

It’s important to have a crystal-clear picture of where this new change will take you. For example, instead of stating that this change will result in more clients, specifically stating what this change will do for your business can be powerful. You could come up with something such as, this change will result in:

  • adding 25 new year-round clients in the first year,
  • hiring a full-time assistant,
  • solving problem X for 25% more people and/or
  • creating financial freedom for my business.

Once you have created a specific picture of what you are working towards, it can be beneficial to write it down and put it someplace you will see it often (e.g., on your desk, on your bathroom mirror). You can also create a symbol of this (e.g., a picture, something you carry in your pocket everyday) that you keep visible or with you as a constant reminder of what you want to achieve by embarking on this change.

3. Break it down into manageable pieces

A big scary change often feels that way because you instinctively know you have LOTS of steps to complete before you fully implement the change. Taking time to list all of the pieces involved in a big scary change and focusing on one or two of these at a time can be a great way to move forward. Back in my technology days, we would call this “chunking”. We would take a huge application development project and chunk it down into a number of sub-headings and then go to each sub-heading and break those items down. We would continue to do this until we had manageable pieces. Then, we would start working on the first piece, then the next piece, then the next piece and before you knew it, we were ready to implement the software. This process really works and it is a terrific tool for anyone who wants to implement a big change.

Beware — You do not have to know all of the pieces to begin moving forward. Again, this can be another convenient excuse for not moving forward with a change. As you begin and make progress, you will uncover some areas that you will need to change, add more pieces to a particular item, etc. This is to be expected!

There’s an old joke that goes: How do you eat an elephant? Well, one bite at a time, of course!

Approaching a big scary change can be exactly that – scary. And, it can be rewarding, fun, necessary and exciting, too! Believe it or not, having a healthy mix of emotions as you begin researching, envisioning and chunking a big scary change can be a great indicator that you are on the right path with this change!

Helen Kosinski
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