The feelings of change

Sometimes, change is thrust on us as a result of external factors. You lose your job. Someone close to you dies. You become unwell. For a while, you feel that things are out of your control—and there is a real sense in which they are.

You may also decide to do things differently because you have learned that there is a better way. You have overcome your anxiety about public speaking and now actively seek to gain experiences. Or, you realize that you have become unreasonably defensive in your dealings with a certain colleague and resolve to adopt a more open and accepting style of behaving.

In many situations, even if at first it appears that things are beyond your influence, they are not. Not many external situations appear totally out of the blue: you see them coming if you are prepared to look. As an effective learner, it is essential that you can learn to do things differently. Being able to move from learning through reflection to deciding to change is a key element of using your intelligence. A major element of this is learning to anticipate and manage your feelings.

In almost all experiences of change, the feelings you have follow a pattern, especially when the change you are contemplating has been largely instigated, in your view, by external factors. Here is a typical cycle of the feelings associated with change:

Of course, it is not always like this or in this order. And often, you will enter as a willing pioneer and your emotions will be largely or wholly positive.

Understanding the kind of emotions you may encounter may help you to deal with change more effectively. Suppose, for example, you have learned that the reason your good senior staff regularly leave the business is because you never give them a chance to be creative. You have decided to do something about this, to change your ways and ensure that you actively seek to release the creativity of those around you. It may help you to be prepared for moments of continuing denial as you move forward! Being prepared means that you can have a strategy in place to deal with the feelings that you have: "It's common to go though these kind of feelings, I'll just stay calm," for example.

Understanding the cycle of change also means that you will recognize the different responses you may have. British academic and author Amin Rajan, chief executive of Create, imagines what it would be like if you described the ways people react to change as if they were different kinds of soldiers.

So, at the most enthusiastic end of the scale he has "crusaders," people who are visionaries and pioneers, while at the other end he imagines "deserters," the staff who decide they have to leave and find another place to work.

The chart overleaf, developed from Amin's ideas, shows some different kinds of approaches to change, as exemplified by different soldiers. Much of it has been left blank for you to use. You may find it amusing to think about people you know well and assign them to the different categories!

When looking at charts like this, it is easy to smile and consign other people to one or more of these "types," secure in the knowledge that you are not like that.

But what about you? What roles do you play? What kind of soldier are you when it comes to I \ change? Does your answer depend on how much you are in control of the change process?

Beliefs and feelings

Role and comments


Crusaders are believers, early pioneers. People who can say what they believe clearly and with conviction are invaluable.




It will all go away. I'll hide in the mountains. I can get away with it.


Army doctor

Secret agent



Military police

Conscientious objector


How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave several of us feeling like a person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our day-to-day incessant busyness too much to do and not enough time; the pressure to produce and check off items on our to-do list by each day’s end seems to decide the direction and quality of our existence for us.

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