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Understanding the Change Process

As I mentioned in my last (long ago) post, I’ve been in a season of change and transition. In this space, I recently made the decision to move to a smaller place. It was and still remains, the best decision for me. However, this move proved to be much more challenging than I ever anticipated.

I like to have a plan, a backup plan, and on a good day a backup to the backup plan. Well, during this process EVERY SINGLE plan I tried to make either fell apart completely or simply didn’t unfold as I expected.

Along the way, there were definitely a few pleasant surprises but mostly it was a lesson in remembering that when I plan, God laughs.

I like to think I can easily embrace change especially when I instigate the change. As I look back over this move, I laugh at my naivety in believing this about myself.

Change is HARD! And this year has been one change after another. Correction, the last few years of my life have been one change after another after another. 

The Change Process

This move has me thinking about the change process and how we experience change. Looking back over my experience with this move and all the other changes I’ve gone through lately, I’ve identified 5 stages to the change process.

What I am describing is how I have experienced the changes that have happened in my life the last few years. And having shared it with a few people, including members of my community, the stages seem to resonate. They are:

The Event

This is the instigating event that triggers the change. It can be voluntary (like deciding to move) or involuntary (like losing a job). Either way, the event is your initiation into the process.

Emotions

Once the trigger happens, you are hit with a wave of emotions. This can run the full gamut of emotions including fear, anxiety, joy, frustration, excitement, grief, sorrow, happiness, or any combination of all of these. I would also argue that denial could sometimes show up here as a way of coping with change.

Exploration

This is where you process the change (and all the emotions that are coming up with it). What does it mean for you? What adjustments will you have to make? How will you make them? You are seeking to understand the change.

Enlightenment 

At this stage, you start to experience some insights that help you cope with the change. These don’t have to be major aha’s. They can be small shifts that allow you to see things from a different perspective. You start figuring out what your new normal is going to look like for you. This new understanding then helps you move to the final stage of change.

Embrace 

Finally, you can accept the change. You are now ready to take action. It may be small, incremental steps or it could be a giant leap. Either way, at this stage, you’re moving. There is activity propelling you forward.

No Timeline

This is not a linear process. There is no timeline for how long you stay in each of these stages. And you will often flow back and forth between them.

You may spend a lot of time in Exploration trying to make sense of things. You may get to Embrace and be suddenly hit with a wave of Emotions that you didn’t see coming.

There are no hard and fast rules here, only that you can expect to move through each of these at some point while dealing with change. And you need tools to support you at each of these stages but that’s a whole different conversation.

In a future post, I plan to share the tools that have supported me as I have navigated change. I’ll also share about some of the unexpected emotions that showed up for me.

In the meantime, I want to hear from you. How have you experienced change in your life? Is there anything you would add to these stages? I would love to hear your thoughts. You can comment below or feel free to email me.

Here’s to understanding the change process that you might rise into your greatness.

From my heart to yours,

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