Managing Change: 7 Universal Laws for Making Change Work for You

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.

About The Author

Jeff Herring

Discover 5 simple steps for 6 figure success online with content marketing.


  • Lauren McMullen

    Reply Reply

    Great explanation Jeff! The only constant in life is change and the quicker we get used to that concept and embrace the changes the happier we will be.

    • Lauren – Thanks! Isn’t that kinda ironic? The only thing that does not change is change…

      ~ Jeff

  • Great tips to put in my reminders file. Jeff. One comment about #5, the wet baby. For many people that’s the level of misery they have to be at before they will seriously look at change. And it’s a poor motivator, because they’ll do just enough to get “dry” and usually nothing to prevent getting wet again. My shorthand takeaway? We have use #3 to get to #2. Thanks!

  • These are indeed 7 great points about change. I can most relate to the last 2, as the wave image illustrates beautifully the possible consequences of too much resistance to change, whereas the kaleidoscope image to me is all about changing your perception, which will open the doors to look at the world in a different way and provide options for taking a different course of action, and thus bring about change. As the old folk saying goes: a change is as good as a holiday. 🙂

  • Jeff,
    Luvvit! You oughta be a writer…
    Thanks for all your great stuff.
    As an engineer would put it,
    ∆ = K
    Change is Constant

  • I laugh to think how ineffective article marketing was several years ago… I was just making excuses I guess because all my articles were rejected by Ezine Articles, that’s why I became a student and the rest is history! Article Marketing Rocks!

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