Sometimes it’s like a rear-end collision – sudden and completely unexpected. Other times it’s more like running out of gas – gradual and accompanied with warning signs that we may or may not heed. The realization that we must change directions is not always of our own choosing.
When it’s time for a change, the sooner you get to the message the better. The longer it takes us to realize that a change is forthcoming, the more sudden, jolting, and wrenching a sharp turn it will be. To avoid sharp turns we’ve got to wake up to what’s going on around us. The quicker we recognize and accept the need for change, the more likely we can take action. To do this we need to read the signs. Except in situations of random acts of nature, there is almost always a telltale foreshadowing of things to come. Sometimes however, it seems easier to look the other way and ignore signals that alert us to what’s coming around the corner.
We can’t let fear of the unknown, of making the wrong decision, or fear of repeating past mistakes paralyze our judgment. We must see and read the signs of change that are taking place within ourselves and in the world around us.
External Signs of Change
Being able to foresee and recognize changes that threaten your future is key to being able to change directions successfully. Here are some of signs that indicate changes are brewing. You should take heed of these because they can and will affect you.
- You’re working longer and harder but still losing ground
- Earnings, sales, stocks or customer counts are dropping
- Layoffs and/or hiring freezes are occurring in your company or within your industry
- Rumors abound that new technology may drastically alter your industry
- New legislation is pending that may eliminate the need for what you do
- An event in your field occurs that leaves you shaking your head in disbelief, surprise or discomfort
- Other products and services are being substituted for what you offer
- Others in your field start to diversify their work with other skills and interests
- Colleagues are leaving your field
- Your manager suggests you update your skills
Internal Signs You Need to Make a Change
Often there are no external reasons for change. In fact, our circumstances may seem ideal to others or even be what we thought we wanted. Nevertheless, often there are internal signals that we should pay attention to, including some of the following:
- Feeling mildly depressed for days on end
- Overeating, using alcohol and drugs to feel better or escape
- Not wanting to get out of bed in the morning
- Feeling chronically tired
- Nagging doubt about yourself and the course of your life
- Losing enthusiasm for life
- Getting frequent headaches, stomach upsets or a mild or serious illness
- Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
- Consistently being irritable, complaining, nagging
- Feeling unfulfilled with your work
- Feeling in a rut and restless
It’s not enough to simply see the signs. We need to grasp the significance of the signs we’re noticing and take them seriously. Change can consume and overwhelm us so it’s tempting to pretend everything is just fine even though there are definite challenges we should be assessing and attending to.
Are there signs you’re dismissing? Are you toughing it out? Are you pretending things are okay, when actually they’re not? Is there something eating at you? What new information or situations in your life do you need to take into account? Take the time to understand what they mean for you and your future. And finally, be honest, is it time for a change?
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