Successfully Embracing Change

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Perhaps you have been at your current firm for years and lately find yourself frustrated and unhappy. You are contemplating a change, but feel overwhelmed at the thought of switching firms and have been avoiding the decision. Or possibly you have made the difficult decision to move to a new firm and, along with the excitement, you also feel dread, discomfort and anxiety about the impending changes.

Why is it so difficult to commit to changes in our life, especially if we know how positive it will be for our personal and professional success? The fact is that change is hard. In order to manage your emotions during a major change, such as the transition to a new firm, you will need to possess the three Ds-desire, determination and dedication. You have to want to make the change, be willing to do the hard work necessary, and be consistent in your changes over time.

In moving to a new firm, the critical question becomes: How willing are you to experience the discomfort that typically comes with change? Well, as it turns out, being uncomfortable might not be such a bad thing.

As a matter of fact, experiencing some discomfort is often the first step in achieving the next level of success. Most elite athletes such as Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, and Lance Armstrong are continuously creating new challenges for themselves. And their behavior has showed the rest of us who want to be at the top of our game one thing. Namely that you must create challenges for yourself and move beyond your comfort zone to be able to achieve the next level of success.

The main factor that affects our willingness and desire to make changes and embrace new concepts is inertia. Inertia exerts a powerful pull on all of us. Even common expressions we use like, “Don’t rock the boat,” reinforce the desire to maintain the status quo.

We all have behavioral patterns and comfort zones that we bring to our experiences and contribute to our success. But, most successful people eventually hit the wall or plateau. A common response to this development is to work harder and faster doing what you have always done. The problem is that this rarely achieves the desired breakthrough. That is exactly the time you need to consider getting out of your comfort zone and embracing change.

Additionally, your length of time in the financial industry, or at your current firm, can determine just how inspired you might be to make changes. Being aware of how much inertia you have built up over the years can be a critical step in getting unstuck in old patterns of thinking and behaving.

Managing Change Effectively

The first step in successfully managing change—such as moving to a new firm—is to assess your current status. The universal path of change has six stages, as explained in James Prochaska’s 1989 book “Changing for Good.”

Here is a list of the stages of change along with brief explanations. Take a moment and see where you think you are in this process:

  • Pre-Contemplation: I am fine. This topic of change doesn’t apply to me.
  • Contemplation: Maybe I need to change. In this stage you look at the pros and cons of making a change and go through a step of consciousness raising.
  • Preparation: Yes, I feel convinced that I need to make changes and I am committed to taking action. People at this stage may still need skills and support to achieve their goals.
  • Action: At this stage you initiate action.
  • Maintenance: You are continuing to use these new strategies over time.
  • Termination: Your new skills are now a permanent part of your routine.

Knowing what makes you tick is not only empowering but essential if you are going to conquer the challenge of behavioral change.

In this business, financial rewards certainly play a role in your incentive to work, but money alone is not the most significant motivator for most people.

What else motivates you? Is it the love of the challenge? The joy you find in the work itself? Or maybe the relationships you have with your clients?

Behavioral Strategies for Successful Change

Often, when contemplating any major change, such as moving firms, the thought alone can feel overwhelming.

But just remember that all complex behavior is simple behavior combined. By this I mean that in order to embrace change and make effective transitions you must break down a new behavior into as many simple steps as you need to feel comfortable.

And at some point you need to embrace the “just do it” principle. This simple idea reminds us that for a new idea to work, you have to try it. We are often reluctant to try new ideas because our behavior is influenced largely by our emotions, and emotions or feelings are difficult to change. However, behavior is easier to change than emotions. So the good news is that if you behave differently your feelings will catch up.

As you contemplate changing firms ask yourself: “Am I up for the challenge to get uncomfortable enough to do things differently and embrace the changes that await me at a new firm?” And remember-being uncomfortable is the first step to achieving the next level of your success.


This article was originally published On Wall Street.

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