Change Fatigue

This month because of where we are in the year, I thought we might talk about change fatigue.

Would you resonate with the term ‘change fatigued’? Has it occurred to you that how you are feeling might even have a name?

Do you feel mentally and emotionally fatigued? Are you finding it difficult to rekindle your passion and motivation for your vision?

Perhaps your mindset is set on “let’s just get through this”.

After the past 24 months who could blame you if you answered yes to this question.

A man looking defeated and experiencing change fatigue

Is change really the problem?

Anyone who has known me over the years will know that I love change. I love a clean sheet of paper, a new diary, and a good mind mapping or storming session. Above all, I love to challenge the status quo. In the past, this has not brought me immunity from the clutches of change fatigue. But it has brought me valuable insights into protecting myself.

Is it change that has worn you down or the speed at which change has happened? Or perhaps have you considered it might be the lack of choice and control over the changes that have become tiresome.

Change fatigue is a general apathy, resistance, or passive resignation to uncertainty. The term is most often used when talking about employees and organisational change. But what about us. Is it a new phenomenon to use the term for business owners and leaders? Have we been forgotten? Who looks out for us when consistent change is being demanded? After we are usually the ones leading and deciding on the changes and so pick up the wrap and the distress from those around us.

There’s always something to be learned.

There is always something positive to learn out of any situation, however uncomfortable. Change fatigue doesn’t have to be a natural part of your business growth or your personal growth. Change fatigue is about uncertainty and there lays the biggest lesson for all of us. Uncertainty comes from having a lack of clarity. The skill of developing clarity is a vital part of the self-leadership toolbox, whether you are a business owner or a leader of many. When no one and nothing else is providing the clarity, one must have the skills to do it for themselves.

I had an interesting debate on LinkedIn only this week about Clarity v’s Certainty. In my book certainty can stifle creativity as it really draws the line in the sand. That is is reliable, immovable, permanent, which we all know after the period we have all survived can not be the case. It certainly does not take into account any unforeseen crisis. You can not own certainty but you can own your own clarity, cant you?

Woman seeing with vision and clarity into the future

How do you feel about change?

There are certain words that can trigger a response in us, unwittingly aka subconsciously. And in my experience change is one of those words that often creates an enormous number of emotional opinions, objections, and narratives between colleagues, staff, and relationships in general. After all the ideas, the concepts the first inkling that change is coming will only be on your page or the proposers.

It doesn’t matter if the change is being driven by the political, economic, social, or environmental climate. The perception of choice and the desire for clarity, will always be keen players in every discussion.

An article I found online by The HR Director.Com. reported the finding of a poll from October this year. Showing reported incidents of anxiety dropping by 14% and being superseded by the low mood with the cause of which was the perceived lack ‘lack of control’.

How has change impacted on you?

We are all human so what affects employees will certainly have affected us. The last 2 years have absolutely found us exposed and in a constant state of flux and uncertainty. Not to mention, having limited choices and clarity in the direction of travel.

It is important as we are in the New Year and financial year-end is looming. We reflect on our resilience and preparedness for the future.

Am I going to talk to you about ‘goal setting’? Nope.

Are we interested in New Year’s Resolutions? And nope again.

Instead, I want to talk to you about thinking about the year ahead using more than your logical mind.

As we already know one of the causes of change fatigue is the lack of perceived choice and clarity. Lack of choice is a by-product in the absence of clarity. Having only ‘planned goals’, determined purely because they are logical to establish what, the less informed think of as certainty. Straight forward goal-setting leaves you vulnerable to outside forces and disillusioned when the path gets blocked.

There is also another reason for change fatigue in my book. It is the lack of desire and passion attached to the required change. If in your heart of hearts, the change does not resonate with you on an emotional level, you will be reluctant at best or resistant at worse to the change.

We ALL need a purpose to do something and then the ripples of change are far-reaching and mostly organic.

metaphor for emotional impact. The ripples showing change.

Planning for clarity is planning for success.

“You can not connect the dots looking forward.

You can only connect looking backward.

So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in the future”

Steve Jobs.

This quote, in my view, epitomises the need for clarity over certainty. That clarity comes when you own your vision in your heart. When you have this your dots will connect.

Growth never happens without change and success will only ever be achieved when we encourage change to be an intrinsic part of your business. Makes total sense, doesn’t it? And for the majority, we already logically accept this. But unconsciously might be a different story.

Goal setting in business is often a paper planning exercise at best. Either produced in a ‘high-level’ document format or a flow chart (I do love a flow chart, so I am don’t criticising totally). At best we talk about our plans for the period ahead. What is interesting, however from my perspective is the lack of desire or passion or any signs of an action-based plan attached.

Can we do it differently in 2022

Yes, we can do it differently. Well yes, I think we can.

We do it by turning our ‘goals’ for 2022 into an emotional connection. Turn it into intentions. Not because it lets us off the hook or does not hold us to account. But because it will create a powerful state of desire which inspires us.

Your goal is going to be developed in the first instance using logic. Same as it always has. But then we take that goal and ask you ask yourself if this is what you really want. Or is this because it is what is expected logically or by someone else.

If your goal makes you excited (emotional response ie desirable). So you feel a physical reaction when you visualise the outcome, then you have connected with success.

Get your success anchored in place for deeper clarity. Work your vision through these 4 questions to build a picture and create the clarity we want of the goal.

If you chose to do this exercise properly, you will begin to create a picture in your mind’s eye as well as your heart.

The first step is to create a mental image of what you desire and then ask the following;

4 ecology-seeking questions.

  1. What will happen when you have this?
  2. What will not happen when you have it?
  3. What will happen if you do not have it?
  4. What will not happen if you do not have it?

With every answer, your vision will become more purposeful and more desirable because you will discover the value of what you are trying to achieve. When you have completed this you will have confirmed an emotional connection. This is not a one-off exercise. The more you take your vision through this process the more you will understand it and the closer you will be to achieving your vision.

As with everything to do with the human, repetition is key to establishing clarity. So, we repeat this picture in your mind every day. Make it more and more detailed every day.

Another analogy

Reading a road map to find and plot your direction of travel to meet your goals and vision.

Think of an old-fashioned AA road map. If you are too young to know what this is have a look on Google or just see the picture above! It’s the old way of planning a road trip. You pick the route and follow it to your destination. It was fairly successful however, should you get to a point in your trip and they have decided to dig up the road, you may have to return to your map and re-route your journey. This often meant doubling back on yourself or following a lengthy diversion and sometimes abandoning your trip altogether. No automated Sat Navs to re-calculate your shortest or quickest routes.

The emotionally connected way is a bit more of a nautical. Having that emotional vision and connection is like following the North Star. It is similar to autopilot on a long-haul flight. Once the flight is off the ground the pilot will switch to autopilot to complete the navigation and minor adjustments. As it is with the Sat Nav’s these days. In human language, it’s what you will all know as following your intuition, your gut feeling about a situation. Your intuition will continuously bring you back on course. Small but continuous alterations keep you on course.

What do you really want?

So, ask yourself, for 2022 what do I really want to happen. Start to create that unbreakable connection.