In 1789 the American statesman Benjamin Franklin wrote, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”, except he’d left out another certainty… change. Change is a great leveller which moulds our existence, whatever we do, wherever we live, whoever we are… so we need to be ready to deal with it.
How we equip ourselves to do this was the question I investigated during 2019–2020 when I interviewed 108 people from 27 countries. From Australia to Saudi Arabia and USA to Brazil, participants shared stories of how they successfully navigated change, from small pivots to full-on transformations. You can read three participant narratives at the end of this article*.
Once I’d gathered data from 75 hours of interviews, I undertook a Thematic Analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2006**) and discovered clear themes, such as the resources participants relied on during times of change. These resources included:
- Mindset — how participants viewed change/belief in their ability to work through it;
- Health — via sport/exercise, food/hydration, rest and mental health;
- Other resources such as skills, money, and reality checks (e.g. asking “was this the right time to take on a change project?”);
- People who helped the participants on their journey; as well as
- Inspirations that kept them going.
Focusing on resources seemed to help these participants so I thought it would be useful to share them with others; I did this via my coaching blogas well as a book I wrote, called Swim, Jump, Fly: A Guide to Changing Your Life. In the book I describe the preparation process as getting ‘match-fit’ for change, which includes an audit of current resources, as well as actions to address any gaps.
If you find yourself contemplating a change in life — looking for a job or moving house, getting married, getting divorced, or getting fit — then running an audit of your resources might be useful. Here are some questions to help you check what you have in place.
How we feel about change is a good starting place for dealing with change. Why not ask yourself: