To Do or Not To Do…..
Implementing changes in our personal and professional lives can be extremely challenging. We are wired for safety and nothing quite flicks our safety switch like the prospect of change. In fact, one of our key survival strategies is to stabilise what keeps changing in order to maintain equilibrium, so our brains are very good at sending us warning signals whenever change is in the air.
Throughout my working life, I have been encouraged to use a SWOT approach to important change decisions, with the aim of removing the emotions and making rational and logical decisions. Whilst this sounds all well and good (and very logical!), there is a lot to be said for the ‘gut instinct’ aspect of decision-making The key is to explore what the instinct is and why it has merit, rather than being a blind follower. Often with a little self-reflection, we can see whether our reactions are from the fear of change itself, or grounded in more substantial objections to a potentially bad decision.
An alternative to SWOT is a stages approach to change decisions. Based on the Transtheoretical Coaching Matrix (Cavanagh and Grant, 2005) the basic steps involve:
1. Consider the downside or negatives of staying the same and not changing. What is not working with the present way?
2. Consider the upside or positives of changing. What are the benefits or pay-offs of changing?
3. Consider the upside or positives of staying the same and not changing. What are the underlying needs and values which are being met by not changing?
4. Identify current barriers and actions required for the change to be successful. If you were to make this change, what would you need to do to make it successful?
Working through these steps allows a balanced consideration of the alternatives and also acknowledges the emotive elements of instigating change. By working through these on paper, the reasons for wanting or not wanting to act become clearer and easier to articulate. What follows is increased self-awareness leading to clear and transparent decision-making.
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