One of my favorite authors is Phil Cousineau. In The Art of Pilgrimage he writes, “If you don’t take the time to sit and reflect before you leave, you’ll surely be remembering what you’ve forgotten on the way to the airport or on the plane. By then its too late. This tends to be true for what goes into your bags as well as what goes into your heart about your journey.”
This quote came to mind earlier today as I sat down to categorize my blog posts. There are 40 of them now, so I felt it was time to give them some structure. I have had the framework in mind for some time now: 1) Create Your Change Story; 2) Plan the Journey; 3) Prepare for the Journey; 4) Take the Journey; 5) Return Home. I have not yet written anything on the return home. You can access each of the other four “chapters” using the menu to your left.
I knew when I began to categorize them that some of the posts were likely to fall into two or more categories. While I lift things out to talk about them in each post, they are really interwoven with one another, and often apply across a considerable distance in the change process.
What did catch me a bit off guard–though as I reflect on it is not that surprising–is how many posts are about preparing for the journey. Why is this?
Most of us approach change (personal and organizational) with some understanding of where it is taking us, and a belief that we know what to do do get there. There’s a strategy, a goal, or outcomes of some sort that we are seeking to achieve. And, there’s a plan to execute in order to achieve the desired end result. (In fact, as many of the posts in Create Your Change Story, Plan the Journey, and Take the Journey reveal, we’re not always well prepared in these areas either; but, we tend to think we are.)
Rarely, however, do we focus on fully preparing for the journey itself. We may make physical preparations (e.g. get a passport, purchase tickets, reserve lodging for travel; meet with a career coach, research certification options, register for classes for a career change). But that is not enough. “Being ready mentally, spiritually, and physically makes us lighter on our feet, more adroit at making decisions, and perhaps can even keep chaos at bay,” (Art of Pilgrimage).
Preparing for your journey means more than packing the bags, or selecting a path forward. The change journey itself is a “whole person” experience; no aspect of your being is left untouched by a difficult change. Fail to prepare any aspect of your being, and you are putting success at risk.
And, it’s not enough to prepare yourself for the journey. Those who are making it with you require preparation as well. Knowing where you are going, what the journey will be like, how you will be measuring progress, what is changing and what is not, what role each person will play in the change process, what will be done to help them be successful with the change…all these things and more give people a greater sense of stability and control. Each one contributes to the preparation.
Here are a few of the questions you will need to address. (Guidance on many of these is provided in the Prepare for the Journey section of the blog.)
- Do you really have to make this change, or is it just a good (maybe really, really good) idea? (post)
- How bad does it hurt to not make the change? (post)
- Are you talking with the right people? (not)
- What needs to change about how you and others think, both to make the journey and to maintain success once it is completed? (within multiple posts)
- What needs to change about how you and others act, both to make the journey and to maintain success once it is completed? (within multiple posts)
- What are your anchors, and how will your relationship with them have to change in order for the change to succeed? (post)
- What do you need to do in order to be prepared for the resistance that will inevitably arise during the change journey? (post)
- Where are your boundaries? (post)
- What plateaus will you be visiting along the way, and how will you utilize your time on them? (post)
- how are you going to maintain your balance? (post)
- Do you have enough discipline to succeed? If not, what options are there for developing more, or for making the change less demanding? (posts)
- Do you have the courage the change will require for success? If not, what options are there for developing more, or for making the change less demanding? (post)
- Who do you need to enlist in the change? How and when will you do that? (post)
- Are you prepared to effectively utilize both one-way and two-way communication…at the right times, in the right ways, with the right messages? (posts)
- What are you going to stop and or slow down so that you have everything that is required (time, resources, change adaptation capacity, etc.) to succeed with this change? (post)
- Who do you need to listen to in order to be successful? (post)
- Are people–including you–prepared for the catharsis that is an inevitable part of big changes? (post)
- Are you prepared to commit to outcomes, and not just actions? (post)
- Do you know when to trust, and when to not trust, your intuition? (post)
- Are you prepared to make mistakes, own up to and learn from them, and move on with the change?
- Are you prepared to tell the change story? Is the change story prepared to be told? (posts)
- And, at every step of the way, are you prepared for what comes next in the change process?
When you are planning the journey, don’t forget to plan for the preparation. Without it, you may travel somewhere. But it is unlikely you will reach the destination you set out to attain.
What do you do to prepare for difficult change? Share your story.