NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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Understanding and Managing Change

Understanding and Managing Change  12/13/19


Getting a different car.  Rearranging the furniture in your house.  Moving where you keep the wastebasket.  Relocating to a new community.  Getting a new supervisor.  Dropping a bad habit.  Establishing a good habit.  What do these things have in common?  They are examples of changes we encounter.

Change, “they” say, can be hard.  However, William Bridges suggests, “It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions. Change is not the same as transition.”

Bridges continues, “Change is situational.  Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation. Change is external, transition is internal.”

Let’s focus on the transition; the adjusting, the adapting, the “getting used to” of change in our lives.

Understanding the cycle of change as an upward spiral can help make the transition, adjustment, or adaptation easier and smoother.  The steps along the upward spiral path are named and described as follows:

  • Pre-contemplation – Having no intent to change behavior
  • Contemplation – Awareness of the existence of a problem, but having no commitment to action
  • Preparation:  Having an intention of taking action to address the problem
  • Action:  Doing something to modify (“change”) our behavior
  • Maintenance: Sustaining the change; having the new behavior replace the old behavior
  • Relapse:  Falling back into the old pattern of behavior, then moving forward to repeat the cycle by starting again at the pre-contemplation step.

The key is to learn from each relapse; to “fall forward” as Teddy Roosevelt describes in his famous and inspiring speech, “The Man in the Arena.”

Another way to understand change is to see it as unfreezing (creating a climate or environment for change), moving (engaging and enabling the transition), and refreezing (implementing and sustaining the change).

Source:  “Understanding and Managing Change,” Marie Hvidsten, NDSU Extension Rural Leadership Specialist/RLND Program Director, 12/6/19.

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/change-arrows-transformation-1080462/ downloaded 12/17/19

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