David Bowie once sang “Ch-ch-ch-changes, tryin’ to face the strain.”
So in an effort to help you manage change without strain, here are 7 Universal Laws for successfully managing change:
1. The Law of Stagnation
This is also known as first order change. First order change is a type of change where there really is no change.
How’s that again? Pretty foggy, huh?
Allow me to clear it up for you. Authors Waltzlawick, Weakland and Fisch, in their book “Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution” explain it this way:
“…A person having a nightmare can do many things in their dream – run, hide, fight, scream, jump off a cliff, etc. – but no change from any one of these behaviors to another would ever terminate the nightmare.”
In other words, you can have lots of action and moving around, without any real change taking place.
A good example from the relationship world is the belief that ending one relationship for another will change everything and make you happy. Not necessarily. Remember these profound words of wisdom, “Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”
2. The Law of Transformation
This is also known as second order change. Again, according to the authors,
“The one way out of a dream involves a change from dreaming to waking. Waking, obviously, is no longer a part of the dream, but a change to a different state altogether.”
In other words, transformation, or put more simply, real change, involves movement from one state to another.
3. The Law of The Clutch
This is also known as the law of conscious attention. Several years ago, the clutch went out on my two year old car. I asked the mechanic why this would happen so soon and he asked me a few questions about how I drive. It turns out I was a champion clutch rider. If it was possible for me to have the clutch in, it was in.
What’s the point? Well, I found myself having to pay conscious attention to something I had been doing, kind of unconsciously, for years – driving.
There are times in our life where we have to pay conscious and careful attention to what we are doing and thinking in order to get the changes we want.
4. The Law of Others
Whenever you set out to change someone else, you are doomed to frustration and failure. The only person we can change is ourselves, and that’s difficult enough sometimes.
5. The Law of Wet Diapers
The only person who always likes change is a wet baby. Sometimes change can be the last thing we want. At the same time, change is an inevitable part of our lives.
6. The Law of Waves
Like change, there are three ways to handle a wave: you can let it knock you down, you can survive it, or you can ride it and thrive. Only the wisest and most creative of people do the latter.
7. The Law of Kaleidoscopes
Remember the kaleidoscopes we played with as kids? You would look through the hole in the tube, turn the end of the tube and watch the colors change. Many times there would be a series of small shifts followed by a big shift in the picture.
That’s often how we change as well. We make a series of small shifts leading to big changes.
So if you find yourself frustrated by only being able to make small changes, remember, big changes can be just one more small shift away.