12 Strategies To Help You Cope With Change

As I’m sitting here on Friday afternoon catching my breath from a very busy week and working on my speeches for our Annual Conference for Administrative Excellence, I am reminded how change is more prevalent than ever in our lives. In the past week, I have personally been through lots of changes; my staff has gone through changes; family and good friends of mine are experiencing change; and the world is changing every day. I’m not saying they are necessarily bad changes. In fact, I have been experiencing some wonderful, good changes. The idea is . . . it’s still change.

I have been speaking on Thriving on Change or Optimizing Change for 27 years. Most of what I have said about “change” has NOT changed. I still use all the strategies I am sharing with you today and they all have worked in good times and in really horrible times.

Change is a part of life. If you do not learn to cope with it, you will be swallowed up by the wave of change. Below are specific strategies to help you cope. You may find that some strategies work better than others depending on the particular situation. Try them all. They are effective.


  • Guess where things are going, if you can.
  • Keep your ears and eyes open. Know what is going on around you at work, in your community, with your family.
  • Pay attention to national events, trends and current news. These could affect your employer’s industry, your profession, and your job.


  • Gather relevant information. Stay Informed.
  • Make specific plans for the upcoming changes so you feel more in control. Be active, not passive.
  • Play out various scenarios on paper. “If this happens, I will do…”


  • How do you feel about this change? Why do you think you feel that way?
  • What happens to you physically when you think about this change? Do you tense up or feel a burst of energy?
  • How this change, whether self-initiated or not, will impact the 5 BIG Life Pillars: career, family, financial, spiritual and wellness. (Or which of these Pillars might the change impact the most?)


  • Imagine yourself in the new situation. See yourself positively on the other side of the change.
  • With change comes both danger and opportunity. See both, but focus on the opportunity.


  • Don’t fight change that is inevitable.
  • Be flexible.
  • Get on with your life; don’t procrastinate.
  • Do something that makes you feel good, something that gives you a sense of achievement.
  • Learn to adapt as quickly as you can.

Get Support

  • Share your feelings with a trusted friend or family member; someone who will let you cry or laugh, and who will listen. People can’t always give you the answers, but if they really listen, sometimes that is help enough.
  • Look for someone who will encourage you, who can lift you up, inspire you and spur you on.
  • Read inspirational and motivational materials.
  • If people offer to run errands or help in some other way, be open to assistance.
  • Seek spiritual support.

Hang Tough

Visualize yourself with your feet dug deep in the sand while waves of change come over you. They get stronger and the wind blows harder. Finally, the calm comes and you are still standing. You have survived the storm of change.

  • Be resilient.
  • Don’t play the “victim” card. Say, “I am a victor over my circumstances.”
  • As Robert Schuller says, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” Tell yourself that you are strong and you will endure.

Go Easy On Yourself

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself when you are feeling down or can’t adapt as quickly as you had hoped.
  • Catch yourself doing things well and reward yourself.
  • Take care of yourself. Enjoy outside interests and relationships.
  • Focus on what’s the best thing to do right now. Don’t think about everything that has to be done.

Keep The Best Of The Old

  • Try not to make several changes at once. In other words, don’t change careers, move and get married (or divorced) all at once.
  • Cherish the good things or people in your life as you move through change.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

  • Whether you are going through good or bad change, keep a gratitude journal on your nightstand. Each night before going to sleep, take two or three minutes and write about the things and people for which you are grateful. Even in the worst of times, you will find several things for which you are thankful.
  • Purchase all types of journals; make journaling fun.
  • Look At Change As An Opportunity To Grow
  • Tell yourself, “I am just stretching right now.”
  • Be confident that you will return to your old comfort zone or you will find a new one.
  • Tell yourself, “I have all the skills required to succeed.”

Purposely Change

  • Make small changes occasionally to become more comfortable with change. Take a different route to work, change your seat at the dinner table, or sleep on the other side of the bed.
  • If you have children, create small changes with them so they will learn to cope with change more easily.

How we respond to change is our choice. Sometimes at first, we respond with shock and immediate loss of hope. The important thing is to take comfort in that you can get grounded and actually make change work to your benefit.

Wishing you a great week!

Joan Burge

“Change is not the enemy, but rather a constant force that occurs every day to shape the future and things to come.” – Peter R. Gerber

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