A three-step approach to difficult changes

At difficult times, try keeping a wide perspective. Photo by Krissana Porto on Unsplash

As well as helping individuals with mental health issues, I help businesses with financial health issues.  A theme of overlap between the two, is the making and undertaking of difficult changes.

Difficult decisions arise when our usual patterns of behaviour are not enough to sustain our lives.  When life is relaxed and easy, we tend to drift from day to day, relying on our usual habits.  But, now and again, it becomes evident that something is not working, so fundamentally as to require a change in course.

Whether in personal life or business life, two or three simple rules can help.


If you are an individual or a business with a problem, then try to get a clear view of the situation before you do anything.  In psychological counselling, this is why an early session is dedicated to assessment.  In business consultancy, it is why someone usually draws up a business model.  In both cases, things are easier to discuss and consider with some agreement as to what is happening.


This is a hard one, because at difficult times, everyone has limited capacity to communicate clearly.  But at least being prepared and willing is a start.  At the very least, build a small circle of trusted friends who know the situation, and try to be honest with yourself and them.


In business turnarounds, and in personal turnarounds, a certain amount of courage is necessary.  Remember, the problem is often that the same habit has gone on too long.  The willingness to experiment can be what breaks the bad habit, and frees up change space.


When life gets difficult, how do I negotiate with situations?

Do I take time to sit back and assess what is going on?  It’s tempting to firefight, but having a mental model of the situation involves a bit of separation from the battle.

Do I stay open for communication?  It’s tempting to shut down, but then how will I know what different perpectives are possible?

Am I willing to try new approaches?  It’s tempting to use the same old tactics; but flexibility and creativity are real assets.

It seems strange to ask myself to sit back and look, to sit back and listen, and to sit back and try alternative approaches.  It doesn’t go with my natural wish to jump in and fight the fires.  But sometimes, just sometimes, a relaxed perspective brings change more easily than a tense fight.

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