Changing Directions Without Losing Your Way: Manging The Six Stages Of Change At Work And In Life

Changing Directions Without Losing Your Way: Manging The Six Stages Of Change At Work And In Life

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Changing Directions Without Losing Your Way: Manging The Six Stages Of Change At Work And In Life by Paul Edwards, Sarah Edwards

In Changing Directions Without Losing Your Way, the authors who helped pioneer the "working from home" revolution identify the six stages of change in business and in life. For each of these stages, Paul and Sarah Edwards demonstrate how to understand and assess change for what it is, and then recast career aspects to adapt to new realities.

From facing a new reality, releasing the past, and finding an inner compass, to embracing the future, developing a strategy, to putting the show on the road, the six stages of change are clearly explained.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743504591
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date: 06/01/2001
Edition description: Abridged, 2 CDs, 2 hrs. 30 min.
Pages: 5
Product dimensions: 5.06(w) x 5.62(h) x 0.47(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Stage One

* * *

Change is the rock in everyone's shoe ... and some people limp. —REG MURPHY, CEO, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Sometimes, it's like a rear-end collision—sudden and completely unexpected. Mark, for example, had been looking forward to lunch with his division head, who was flying in from Chicago for the meeting. The Christmas holidays were approaching. Mark had slipped in some last-minute shopping at the department store next to the restaurant where they were to meet. The mall was bustling with holiday cheer that was all the more festive that day because there was already a coat of fresh snow on the streets. In the distance, the Rocky Mountains were glistening in the sunlight of a sky-blue day.

    The lunch began on a pleasant note. In the back of his mind, Mark was half expecting that a promotion was in the offing. His last performance evaluation had been excellent, and over the past year several of his ideas had been successfully implemented throughout the region. Midway through the entrée, however, the conversation took on a somber note, and Mark felt a sharp twinge of fear grip his chest. He shook it off. "Don't be silly," he reassured himself silently, as he tried to focus on his superior's increasingly grave remarks about the future of the company. "Relax, you've been with this company for over ten years. Your future here is secure," he kept reminding himself.

    Then, inlessthan the time it took for Mark to lift the next bite of his lemon pepper chicken to his mouth, he got the message. The company was downsizing. The branch office would be closing January 1. Mark would be let go at the close of business that day!

    Other times, it's more like running out of gas—gradual and accompanied with ample warning signs we may or may not heed. Clarissa, for example, had been worried about the decline in her referral business for several months. But, she kept telling herself, all businesses go through seasonal slumps. "I'll just boost my marketing and things will pick up again," she concluded with the confidence ten years of being in your own successful business can bring. But, as the months passed, things didn't pick up. In fact, they had declined further.

    Clarissa had to let one of her two employees go, then the other. Then she moved her office home. "Why pay all that rent?" she rationalized. Anyway, she enjoyed working from home. But by the end of year, Clarissa realized the market for her business had dried up. People just didn't need what she was offering any longer. She was going to have to do something else for a living.

    At first, Denise thought her increasing fatigue was simply the remnants of a bad case of the flu. But sick days turned into a leave of absence as doctors searched in vain to find the cause of her growing malaise. At last, she learned she had a rare systemic infection that would require many months of recovery. But even then, Denise assumed that within time, she'd be able to return to her lifelong career as a forest ranger. That was not to be. Gradually, she realized that the disease had taken a toll on her body that would prevent her from ever resuming the level of physical exertion and activity her chosen career demanded. She would have to change not only her career but also her lifestyle.

    Often, as with Mark, Clarissa, and Denise, the realization that we must change directions is not of our own choosing. But equally as often these days, it is. Vickie, for example, had worked as an editor for a national newspaper for twenty-two years. But, while she loved writing, over the years her job had changed. Getting out of bed on Monday mornings was increasingly difficult for her. Her mind kept wandering to other kinds of articles she'd like to be writing. But, she kept reminding herself, she had a job thousands of starving writers could only dream of. It provided money, prestige, security, and the opportunity to not only earn a living doing what she loved, but to have tens of thousands of people read her work every day! What more could she want? One morning, however, Vickie finally realized that by the time she pulled into her assigned parking space for work each morning, "I was furious." She could no longer ignore deny it. She needed to make a change.

    So did Donald. He was vice president of marketing for one of the nation's largest advertising agencies. The money was great! But he was increasingly disturbed. He was devoting his career to promoting a growing list of products he didn't believe in: cigarettes, alcohol, gas-guzzling automobiles, and artery-clogging junk food. Still, he didn't see any alternatives. He had a family. They had become accustomed to a certain lifestyle and a high standard of living. Any similar-paying marketing position he entertained presented the same problems. So he stayed on with the company until suddenly one day, right in the middle of a presentation to a client, he simply couldn't continue talking. He excused himself and tried to regain his composure to go on. But he could not. He realized at that moment, he had to make a change.

    Susan was working as a well-paid media manager and policy advisor for a high-profile politician when both her parents passed away and left her some money. This provided her with the opportunity to do something she'd been wanting to do for a long time: quit her job and take a year off to go back to school to study journalism and fulfill her longtime dream of writing a novel. At the end of that year, however, in the midst of a recession and unable to find a job, Susan's life took an unexpected downward spiral. Five years later, she found herself an alcoholic, having DT's, homeless, and in a county hospital with an IV in her arm, surrounded by people who were literally dying of liver failure. She had hit bottom. "I said to myself, 'This isn't right. I'll never take another drink.'" And thus began a three-year journey to rebuild the foundation of her life.

    Whether it's sudden or gradual, chosen, or inflicted upon us, the moment of truth comes when we know we must change.

    Has that moment come in your life? When did you know, or first suspect, it was time to change directions?

The Task Is:
Accepting That Something
Significant Is Happening

When it's time for a change, the sooner you get to the message the better. Too often, like Susan, life has to get pretty awful before we wake up to the fact that things can't remain the same. The longer it takes us to realize that a change is coming, the more of a sudden, jolting, wrenching sharp turn it will be. But, if we see what's coming well before it's upon us, we can avoid the sharp turns and take change on the curves.


A drama was unfolding before us. When we first interviewed Annette, she was writing a subscription newsletter for businesses featuring upcoming events in her community. But the newsletter was barely breaking even. She got the message immediately. This business idea was a good one but it wasn't working. The information she was providing, although valuable, wasn't sufficiently profitable to her subscribers to entice them to pay subscription rates that would cover her rising costs of printing and mailing the newsletter.

    Quick to respond, Annette was about to close her business when she had a hunch. More businesses were using fax machines. What if she provided her newsletter via fax instead of in print? This would eliminate her printing costs and dramatically reduce her mailing costs. She tested this concept, and it was a winner. Not only did the number of subscriptions jump, but because the information was more timely, she also was able to raise subscription prices. Suddenly, her venture was not only breaking even but providing an excellent income.

    People in other communities were impressed with Annette's results and were soon asking how they might start such a service. Again, quick to pick up on what was happening, she decided to package her business as a franchise. That aspect of her business was going equally well, when she got another hunch. The Internet would soon make this service all the easier to provide. But, in surveying the situation, she realized that, on the Internet, services like hers might be offered for free! Whoops! She realized that if she didn't act quickly, she would be faced with having to make a really sharp turn, and her business was moving too fast to make an about-face. A much larger company however, with the capital to launch a large, national advertising-supported site might find acquiring her company an asset to getting their own site off the ground quickly. Sure enough. Within no time, Annette was able to sell her business for enough money to give her ample time to decide what she wanted to do next with her life.

    Most people hearing about Annette's success say, "Boy, was she lucky! She got out just in time." We don't think it was luck. It was Annette's ability to read the signs of change, heed their messages, and believe they were important enough to take immediate action on. To avoid sharp turns and meet change on the curves, we've got to wake up to what's going on around us. We have to stay open to what's happening and how we feel about ourselves and our lives. And, if possible, take action on what's coming around before it happens.

    Once whatever's coming arrives, we're in the position of having to react to it, so we start out one step behind. We are in the position of having to catch up. But, if we pick up quickly on what's developing and take the initiative immediately, we can participate in the opportunities change brings, instead of cleaning up the messes it makes. The quicker we can recognize and accept the need for change, the more likely we can take action to be ahead of the curve.


There are always signs. Of course, it's common to hear people say, "I didn't see it coming. It just came out of the blue." But that doesn't mean there weren't any signs. Even those who don't see the changes coming that are about to knock them over will often comment upon reflection after the fact, "I should have seen it coming." In situations other than random acts of nature, there are almost always telltale foreshadowings of things to come. Annette sensed them; Mark didn't. Upon reflection on the months leading up to his boss's trip from Chicago, though, Mark realized there had been some writing on the wall. Albeit faded, there were readable signs that his company was in trouble, and changes were in the air. He just hadn't been paying attention.

    Is it time for you to wake up?

    Let's face it; most of us would prefer peace and safety to risk and tumult. Even if you don't like your life the way it is, at least it's familiar. But change changes all that. Change upsets the apple cart, even when it's change for the better. Change shakes up our routines and tests the limits of our beliefs. Past problems that we've carefully tucked away, in the deep storage of our minds, may come tumbling out in the midst of change. So sometimes, it seems easier to look the other way and overlook signals that would alert us to what's coming around the corner.

    But if we feel safe enough to look at the evidence of change, we can stand on the hillside of our lives, survey the vistas around us, and see what's really happening out there. With confidence, we can foresee and contemplate threats to our security and well-being.

TURBO FUEL: To Rebuild Your Confidence

Build Your History of Success. Confidence is built upon a history of success. To build your confidence so you can welcome the signs of change, use your Change Journal to recall six times in your life when you saw change coming and did something about it which turned out well.

    I.e., "I had been working for the same government agency for about five years when I got a great job offer with an outside subcontractor. This job paid considerably more than I was making and gave me a lot more responsibility and freedom to work creatively. Also, there had been talk of an impending RIF (reduction in force.) within our agency. So, finding a new position seemed like a good idea.

    Boy, did I want this job. Visions of glory were dancing in my head. I was going in for my final interview. Word was out that I was their first choice. All I had to do was show up and sign on the dotted line. But, I kept having a nagging feeling of impending doom. And I kept putting off the meeting. Finally, I decided to re-evaluate my situation. Was this really my best career move? I let go of all my illusions of grandeur and took a serious look at my hesitancy. Well, truth was, there had been some scuttlebutt circulating that a lot of government agencies were pulling back on their subcontracted functions. What if that happened?

    Well, I decided to pass on the job, and that's exactly what happened. Within less than a year, the company I would have been working for was out of business. Meanwhile, I applied for a transfer to another department with the agency where I worked which was expanding in response to new legislation. My old department was RIF'ed, but my career was secure. I think of this often when I'm doubtful about changes I need to be making.

    We can't let fear of the unknown, of making the wrong decision or repeating past mistakes paralyze our judgment. We need to see and read the signs of change taking place within ourselves and in the world around us.

Internal Signs You Need to Make a Change

Sometimes, there are no external reasons for us to change. In fact, our circumstances may seem ideal to others or even be what we thought we wanted. Others may be pressing us to continue on as we are and offering enticing incentives. But, what we want and need to do may be changing, and as we change we must make changes. Check any of these signals of needing to change that apply to you.

__ Not wanting to get out of bed in the morning
__ Difficulty motivating yourself to do routine tasks
__ Losing interest in things that once engaged you
__ Nagging doubts about yourself and the course of your life
__ Feeling less self-confidence
__ Worrying about how you'll keep things together

__ Wishing you were someone else
__ Frequent bad dreams and nightmares
__ Increasing strife at home that you might be causing or contributing to

__Feeling bored and disinterested

__ Feeling in a rut and restless

__ Feeling mildly depressed for days on end
__ Overeating or using alcohol and drugs to feel better or to escape
__ Feeling chronically tired, de-energized, and listless
__ Losing a sense of enthusiasm for life

__ Getting a mild or serious illness
__ Getting frequent headaches, stomach upset, other aches and pains
__ Difficulty sleeping, oversleeping
__ Consistently being irritable, complaining nagging, bitching
__ Feeling unfulfilled from your work—that you're not making a difference or impact that's important to you
__ Feeling annoyed, angry, resentful, blaming

External Signs of Change

Being able to foresee and recognize changes that could threaten your future is key to being able to change directions successfully. Here are a variety of signs that there are changes under way which you need to take note of, because they can and will affect you. Check any that apply to you:

__ You're working longer and harder but still losing ground
__ New technology being used that's rumored to possibly make your role or industry obsolete or to drastically alter it
__ When something is happening in your field that makes you shake your head in disbelief, surprise, discomfort
__ Layoffs or hiring freezes in your or other companies in your industry

__ People start using other products and services as substitutes for what you offer: i.e., people turning to chiropractors instead of going to a traditional medical doctor
__ Others leaving your field or being more closed-mouth and competitive
__ There's talk on the grapevine about re-engineering or reorganizing
__ Earnings, sales, stock, or number of customers are dropping
__ New legislation that is pending or adopted that eliminates the need for what you do or instituting unviable regulations
__ Anomalies and contradictions begin occurring in your field or your life. As Seena Sharp of Sharp Information says, "Anomalies are rarely anomalies."
__ When others in your field start to combine their work with other skills and interests acupuncturists and psychologists doing pet bereavement therapy or professional coaching
__ Growing number of obstacles to doing what once came easily
__ Your manager suggests you update your skills

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Essential Tools for Change1
Stage 1Facing a New Reality: Recognizing It's Time to Move On15
Stage 2Saying Goodbye to Where You've Been: Releasing the Past39
Stage 3Finding Your Way: The Inner Compass61
Stage 4Saying Hello to Where You're Going: Embracing the Future87
Stage 5Discovering How to Get There from Here: Developing a Strategy111
Stage 6Putting the Show on the Road: Experimenting, Initiating, and Following Through145
Closing: Next!185
AppendixA Guide to Handling the Emotions of Change189
Other Resources231

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