At least, it’s sometimes supposed to make us happy, isn’t it?
The truth is, we are happiest when we know what to expect, when we have some sense of control about our lives and what is happening in them. When we are in the midst of change, that is taken away.
Yes, we are often happy going into change. But, as we’ve discussed before (I Like This Change. It Will Easily Succeed.), that positive perception is often driven by naivete about what is actually required to succeed with the change.
And, we are often happy coming out of the change. We have reclaimed control (whether direct or indirect), and are achieving the results that we set out for ourselves before we began the journey.
But along the way… Things are changing. Be happy. If the change is big, it just doesn’t work that way. There are moments of happiness. Success with the next step taken, the next milestone achieved. The sense of achievement when major hurdles are overcome, when critical problems are solved.
But, all-in-all, the journey is a difficult one. It can be scary as you venture into the unknown. It can be destabilizing as you let go of anchors that have served you well in the past, but are now holding you back. It can be more challenging than you ever though possible as you are called on to dismantle what you may have spent a career, or a lifetime, creating.
If your change is deeply personal, it can touch what author Thomas Moore and others refer to as the “dark night of the soul.” You may be brought face-to-face with your deepest fears, that which you most dread, thoughts and feelings which you have avoided as long as you’ve thought they might exist.
Along the way, happiness happens. But it is not the norm.
Understand this when you are planning, and journeying through, your own changes. Recognize this when you are guiding others through their change journey. If happiness is the measure of success en route, failure is inevitable. The key during change is not in trying to make people happy, it is helping them succeed despite their discomfort.
What is your experience with happiness during change? Tell your story; share your comments.