Navigating change
Te whakataki rerekētanga

This page talks about change and how it can affect your life. Find some tips and resources you can use to help navigate change.

"Hurihia to aroaro ki te ra tukuna to atarangi kia taka ki muri I a koe"
Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you

Sometimes we choose to make a change, and sometimes our situation requires us to make one. Changes can be big or small, and sometimes navigating through this change can be hard.

Change is one of the only constants in life. Change can feel exciting, but it can also feel disruptive and, at times, even traumatic. A new role, a reorganisation at work, a major project you have responsibility for, the beginning or loss of a relationship, a posting. These can all feel a little scary and it’s natural to feel uncertainty in the face of change. Because of this people sometimes try to avoid or resist it. Even when things are not going so great, sometimes we stick with something (a job, a relationship, current way of doing things) rather than go through the process of change. Sometimes it is hard to make change because it feels overwhelming and we don’t know where to start.

So, how do we navigate our way through change well?  How do we plan to take action? How do we stay in the driving seat and be part of the change rather than a passive observer?

The SCARF model

Change is particularly difficult to navigate when sudden it is sudden and unpredicted. David Rock’s SCARF model is useful for understanding how this may affect us. 

The underlying principle governing the SCARF model is that change is more difficult in situations when the following things are perceived to be negatively affected: Status refers to our social need for comparative importance, significance, respect, esteem, and a place in the social “pecking order”. 

Sometimes change can feel like it is threatening this (e.g. a restructure or leaving the military). Certainty refers to our need to know what will happen next, this can be hard during a period of change. Autonomy refers to the need to feel that we have choices and some control over our environment and circumstances, and again this can be hard as we go through a change. Relatedness refers to the need to feel part of a group and sometimes going through a change process can lead to disconnection. Finally fairness can be triggered by expectations not being met. 

Change is a part of life and essential for progress. Imagine getting up at the same time each day, doing the same thing… day after day, it would get boring right? Embracing change puts you in the driver’s seat and helps you to turn threats into the opportunity to experience something new and evolve as a person. Approaching change with an open mind and focusing on the positive elements will help you to navigate change successfully. A team that welcomes and accepts change is a team that thrives, adapts, and grows together under almost any circumstances.

Read more about Making and sustaining changes.

Event + Response = Outcome

How can some people adapt while others struggle? We can choose whether we respond to change with avoidance and negativity, or embrace it with optimism, curiosity, and confidence. For example, if a relationship were to break down or we lose a job, we could blame ourselves for not being good enough, or we could chose to see as this as a chance to pursue new opportunity.

Chances are you can often think of a change that you resisted and something good that came of it. We cant change events that happen outside of our control but we can change how we respond.

Tips for dealing with change

Embrace change

Remember, change is a constant in life. It can make us feel powerful or uncomfortable. While your immediate reaction may be to put up a defence, accept life is always changing. We are all afraid of the uncertainty that comes with life but by overcoming fear we will experience the benefits. Your mindset about change, whether you see it as positive or negative, is what makes it either a manageable/good experience, or something that feels overwhelming and difficult. A growth mindset says “OK, change will come, and when it does it won’t derail me, I will learn and grow.”

Face fears

Focus on what you are grateful for, rather than what you are afraid of. Write down your fears, this helps take you out of situation and look at it objectively: What is the worst outcome? What is the best? If the worst thing happened, would you be ok? Learn to let go.

Focus on things you can control

You can’t control world the around you but you can control your attitudes and actions.

How to deal with change- Dr Spencer Johnson

Dr. Spencer Johnson is an american physician and author. This video speaks on a method for dealing with change, on how to anticipate, quickly adapt and enjoy the change so that you suffer from less stress and enjoy more success in life.