Is Your Resistance to Change Holding You Back?

Tiffany J. Franklin, Associate Director


Change – it’s a simple word with big implications for our daily experience. Throughout our lives change is a constant, yet it’s something that often creates fear and elicits anxiety. Once we navigate the initial discomfort of the adjustment period, we may enjoy our new reality if we keep things in perspective during transitional phase. We have an amazing capacity to adapt to new situations and must stop and reflect upon examples of when we have risen to new challenges in the past.

In an ever changing workforce, our ability to tolerate ambiguity and embrace change is essential for growing as a professional. Throughout our careers we will experience change in many ways – when members join and leave our work teams, getting a new supervisor, transferring projects/teams, moving physical office space, and transitioning to a new computer system. To remain competitive, companies need team members with flexibility and adaptability, who will embrace changes. Google “Business Agility” and you will find countless definitions and articles outlining strategies for companies to innovate and respond to changes within the industry and global market. The employee who gets on board in the early stages is valuable to the team.

There’s also change we initiate as we chase our dreams (applying for a promotion, pursuing new levels of education/training, starting with a new company, or moving to a new city). Perhaps a tipping point in our lives causes us to reevaluate the direction we were headed. For example, when a student takes an internship in a field she thought she wanted since high school and suddenly realizes it’s not what she thought – now what? Hint: come to Career Services and we will help!

Given all these factors, how do you find solid ground as you navigate these constant transitions?

  1. Recognize that a sense of apprehension is natural in the face of change and much of it revolves around the fear of the unknown.
  2. Expect a learning curve/ramp up period and envision yourself a few months down the road when the newness has worn off.
  3. Consider the reason for the change and potential benefits. For example, learning new software could transform the way you work and it’s something you can leverage in your next internship or job search.
  4. Remember there are a wealth of resources to ease your period of adjustment. Career Services is here to help with career exploration and we have in person or phone appointments during the summer as well, in case you have questions about career matters while you’re at your internship. CAPS is a fantastic resource to help with anxiety.
  5. Think back to past periods when you successfully navigated change in the past (first day of kindergarten, high school, college, other major life events).

Whether change is something we initiate or not, perspective is everything. It’s important to seek out the opportunities that accompany periods of change and doing so demonstrates resiliency, a trait highly valued by employers. Instead of viewing change as something to survive, look at it as a new opportunity to thrive.

Author: Tiffany Franklin

Tiffany Franklin is a Career Services Associate Director working with the team for students in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.