Navigating Change and Ambiguity: Moving on Means Letting Go

After nearly five years of working in an office environment at INSEAD, I’ve switched to working from home. Due to the COVID-19 situation, I knew it was the right decision but I’ve been surprised that letting go of working from the office would be so uncomfortable.

  • I miss my morning commute, and daily nod to the bakery owner next door
  • I miss my INSEAD colleagues and MBA face-to-face interactions
  • Where shall I get my lunch! (I confess, all first world problems!)

I shouldn’t have been surprised about this discomfort though, as letting go of our current state is one of the most difficult aspects of any change.

Whether the change is like mine, where it made sense, and I bought in, or whether someone else or a circumstance has initiated the change, like the impact of the current COVID-19 situatoin on our MBA current recruitment practices - every change is uncomfortable.

To move toward any change we must leave behind the familiarity of something we know, before we are sure the new situation will become comfortable. This puts us in a void, a kind of no man’s land, and that is what creates the discomfort.

To move on, we must let go of ways of thinking, feeling and behaving (habits) that are holding us down, holding us back, or keeping us attached to the old status quo.

The question is how. Following are a few tips that might help.

  • Ventilate, knowing that when the timer rings, your airtime is over! If change knocks you down, give yourself the space and time to express your thoughts. Talk to a peer or friend, write in your journal - give your frustrations the airtime they deserve. But when the timer rings, decide to move on to something better.

 

  • Cut the banana into slices! A powerful message during the MBA students' Welcome webinar was to refocus energy and thoughts on small, positive steps. Constantly reliving the past will not change it and worrying about the future will not improve it.  Instead, do something small now that will propel you forward. Take small, daily, positive steps. Then build on them. Polish your pitch, or resume, speak to a friend or a coach, keep moving forward.

 

  • Look for opportunity. Look for the opportunities that change always creates. For instance, if you are looking for a new job, what are those industries that are not impacted, that retain a growth mindset. Believing that something better is possible is often the first step to finding it.

 

  • Reflect on your experience. Reflect on previous changes in your life. What did you do to adapt? What did you do that perhaps held you back? How might you apply lessons learned to your current change challenges? Remind yourself you have gotten through challenging times before. You can do it again.

Managing change begins with managing yourself.

What are you holding on to that doesn’t serve you and is holding you back? Releasing your burdens will unleash your potential.

Checklist:

  • Chart out your main milestones for the career journey
  • Define a list of personal career goals for the week
  • Create space in your calendar each week for (a) career research and (b) outreach.
  • Choose an accountability partner, and share each other’s commitments