Challenging change

Embrace change as a challenge not a threat and protect your stress levels and your health.

The end of the financial year is upon us once again and when you look back you can probably identify some things that have stayed the same since last year but also many changes. You have probably experienced more change than you think, from software upgrades on your computer or phone, to working with new clients or even changing business models. Change is the only constant in our world so we also need to manage it in a positive way. In terms of translation, from both a client and translator perspective, translation needs are also constantly changing. A business report may need to be translated for shareholders in another country with an emphasis on accuracy whereas a PowerPoint presentation may need to be adapted and localised to train staff in another country with different cultural norms, or perhaps a complete translation of another document is not necessary when it is just the gist of what the content is that is required. All these kinds of things keep translators on their toes and having to ask the right questions of clients.

Whether we embrace change or not, it can significantly impact our lives and our productivity. It usually requires a period of adaptation. According to William Bridges, American author and consultant, change and transition are two different things. When it comes to implementing change successfully, transition management is key. He believes that people resist the transition, not the change itself. Transition is the internal psychological process through which we come to terms with and adapt to the change. This process takes time and occurs in three distinct phases. First of all, an ending phase which involves letting go, then a neutral zone where the new hasn’t quite become reality and finally a new beginning where the new is fully integrated. Without an effective transition from the old to the new, the change won’t happen successfully. He also notes that, although transition often results from change, it can also begin before the change actually happens. You can find more in his book Managing Transitions.

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter into another.” – Anatole France

Whilst dealing with change is often dealt with in psychological terms, I was also recently reading about telomeres. Have you heard of telomeres? A telomere is a singular cellular structure which has profound effects on ageing. The shorter telomeres get, the older we feel. This is based on the The Telomere Effect by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel. The book explains why some people look and feel younger than others and also how you can protect your body by responding to stress differently. Simply by viewing stressful situations as challenges instead of threats, your body rallies its forces to deal with good stress but shuts down when faced with bad stress. So when you are faced with change and transition it’s far better for your health in the long term to embrace it as a challenge rather than a threat.

challenging change