As professionals in the fitness industry, it seems that all we can rely on is the constancy of change. Just when we think we offer comprehensive programs, our competitors add new features such as salons, Tai Chi or :boxerobics.: Keeping pace is difficult.

As inevitable as the occurrence of change is the accompanying negative response. Because change alters the status quo and our corresponding expectations, it causes stress. We become anxious when we don’t know what is coming next.

To thrive, we must learn to better manage change. In You Can Excel in Times of Change, Shad Helmstetter recommends a six-step strategy for dealing with change. The first three steps focus on understanding change and your feelings; the second three help you determine your action.

Step 1: Recognize and understand change. Focus on the impending change instead of avoiding it. A change rarely disappears because we avoid or deny it. Research the change to learn everything you can about it. Note the advantages and disadvantages this change has over its alternatives.

Step 2: Accept or reject the change. Too often, many of us feel that we lack control. Realize that you do have a choice and your response is your decision. Will you let this change affect you in a positive or a negative way? Regardless of whether you like change, you can accept it and make it work, or reject it or rise above it.

Step 3: Choose your attitude. Don’t let the circumstances dictate how you feel. Again, realize that you are in charge of your outlook. Take charge of how you feel, and learn to make the best of every situation.

Step 4: Choose your style. Helmstetter defines seven basic styles of reacting to change. Acquiescence, or giving in to change, is accepting and making the best of the change. Partnership involves a compromise and results in an effective response to the change. Passive resistance is externally appearing to go along with the change but internally resisting it. Active resistance is outwardly trying to alter the change. A full retreat is avoiding the change and trying to get away from it (this is rarely effective). Finally, while active acceptance is going along with the change, positive acceptance is giving the change everything you have and, thereby, achieving more.

Step 5: Choose your action. Match your actions to your style. Decide how you are going to deal with the change and make it workable. Determine how you can make the most of the change so that it isn’t a constant stressor. At this point, write down the plan you are going to use for dealing with the change.

Step 6: Review, evaluate and adjust. Schedule a time to regularly evaluate your progress. This is important to make sure your are on track. Are you following your plan to deal with the change? Are there ways you can improve the plan?

Following these steps will position you as an effective manager of change, rather than a helpless victim. Helmstetter also recommends that you keep in mind the most important words of change:

Anticipate
Choose
Believe
Be creative
Maintain perspective
Define your goal
Take action
Achieve
Adapt
Excel

Filled with strong, healthy, active images, these are words of individual achievement and fulfillment. Armed with these and your strategy, you can become a better manager of change.

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