Change or fail

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Ian K. McEwen
Columnist

Career changes, at any age, are both normal and natural. Our accomplishments throughout our career are stepping stones for future career changes that will inevitably come in this fast-paced and ever-changing world.

We live in a world of lifelong learning. It used to be that once we graduated from school and entered our chosen profession, we rarely returned to higher learning, or changed careers. Once a teacher, always a teacher; once a car dealer, always a car dealer.

Changing professions never crossed our minds.

Not any more. Skills and facts change so quickly that if you are not constantly upgrading your skills, you'll find your career will go to another who has not made the mistake of sitting on their laurels, thinking their job or chosen field was secure forever.

People in all careers must be able to adapt to changes and be flexible.

Not only do people have to be flexible, it also is vital for companies or dealers to be adaptable enough to change in order to remain profitable and current, and be able to survive change that is unexpected and often caused by external forces.

If we want to understand change, you need to understand the different phases of how most people and companies react to change so we can survive in a constructive way. 

Denial
Change is official. It’s there. The first instinct is to assume there must be a mistake. This just isn’t possible! People who have always been comfortable with the status quo resent change, and don’t accept it willingly. Many go into denial and think it will all just go away like a bad dream.

Anger
Acceptance sets in. It cannot be avoided.
“Why me? This can’t be happening!  I’m going to sue! This isn’t fair! I’ve worked so hard!”
Lack of self-confidence, anxiety, lack of self-esteem and confusion usually set it.

Depression
Realization sets in that this is really happening; it cannot be avoided; the future is going to look a whole lot different than the past. Anger can turn to humiliation and gloom.

Acceptance
Willingness to adapt sets in. The realization occurs that the future may not be so bad after all, and perhaps could even be better than the past if you’re up for a challenge. You are willing to take necessary steps to make it happen. You begin to exhibit ideas on how to shape your future and remove obstacles that may stop you from achieving your goal.

Here are a few tips to help you adapt to change

• Accept that change is inevitable. It’s going to happen in all walks of your life. Thinking your perfect life is going to stay the same forever, and being unwilling to adapt to change or prepare for it, just makes everything so much harder for you.

• Don’t wallow in self pity because it accomplishes nothing. The faster you accept what is happening and be proactive in finding a solution, the brighter your future will look. And you will get there faster.

• Keep a positive attitude. Surround yourself with positive people and stay active. Know that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Anything can be accomplished if you take it one step at a time.

• Nothing is going to fall into your lap. Keep your antenna up and get out and discover what is going on in the industry so you are not blindsided when change happens. Learn what options are open to you. The more knowledge you acquire, the less fearful and anxious you will be.

• Realize you may already have some great skills and strengths, and they usually are transferable. Know your weaknesses, and get to work improving in those areas.

• Don’t fight change. Remember: change or fail!
• Be flexible. Don’t close any doors because you fear change, or you are basing your decisions on a lack of knowledge.  Know that change can be fun and interesting. It can teach you new skills, bring new knowledge, and help you meet new people. Thinking you are too old to learn new skills is a self-inflicted roadblock you will have to overcome.

• There is one certainty in life: change is inevitable. Whether you accept that is up to you; but there is one more certainty: bright and successful people love new adventures and they welcome change.

Being able to adapt can mean leaving your working comfort zone. It may be upsetting for a while when new ideas are thrown at you, but soon you’ll find a new comfort zone and you might even be happier than you were before.

With a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, and a willingness to adapt to change, you can reach your goals and feel good about yourself again.

Ian McEwen is president of the Marckis Group where he specializes in automotive executive search, recruiting and career placement, career outplacement and franchise opportunities. For more information, visit www.marckisgroup.com or call 1-866-627-2547 #222.