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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

OFFICE WORKERS CAREER CENTRE

Coping with change

By Lisa Trudel
Special to The Sun


Ever heard the word "serendipity"? Is it the title of a romantic comedy movie starring John Cusack? Or is it a restaurant in New York City famous for Oprah Winfrey's favourite dessert, Frrrozen Hot Chocolate? Or is it the ability to make successful discoveries accidentally or the skill of finding worthwhile things without specifically looking for them?

Unfolding

Serendipity is all of these -- the movie, the restaurant and what some call chance or opportunity.

For many people, the issue of coping with changes in the workplace, has been a process of unfolding, rather than detailed exact planning.

Sometimes when we learn about a friend securing a great job, we hear the phrase, "it was a lucky break," or "they were in the right place at the right time." There doesn't appear to be any planning involved in their work search.

But if we believe in this luck theory, we take our future out of our control. A technique that includes chance without relying solely on chance is serendipity.

The serendipitous method to career planning starts by understanding ourselves, often through participating in career assessments or self-discovery tests.

All it takes is adopting the attitude of the explorer, someone who begins a journey solely for the purpose of seeing what may be found and using the combination of passion and planning to help us along the way.

Planning is a skill we use all the time for vacations, family reunions, birthday parties or movie selection. Planning for coping with change in our careers is sometimes overlooked, even though lunch conversations are often spinning with stories about change.

For example, have you been a surprise victim of a new software program being installed while you were away from your desk for a couple of days? Or after a long weekend, have you returned to work to discover a new manager sitting in the chair where your favourite boss used to sit?

How we cope with change in the workplace has become so common that it is a standard question at job interviews. Yet we keep being surprised by change, as if we thought it would magically disappear like IBM selectric typewriters or telex machines.

Change is a constant in our lives. Roles change, salaries change, teams change, companies go through mergers, departments grow and then downsize, and methods of coping that worked yesterday won't necessarily work tomorrow.

Pauline Seward, a recent participant in the Office Workers Career Centre's career assessment program, says that she has learned to cope with change by "keeping active, focused and determined."

She believes that it is her attitude toward change that helps her cope with career and employment transitions as an administrative assistant.

The three best methods for coping with change are:
  • Attitude: Seeing the upside of change, and of allowing it to be a time for opportunity.
  • Preparation: Preparing contingency plans can help ease the way -- as long as you recognize that a healthy change plan should always be adaptable and open to further development.
  • Curiosity: Reaching into the unknown and moving out of our comfort zone can help us move forward. If your best skill is organization, and someone once mentioned you would be a good professional organizer, talk to one who has found success in this branch of office work. If you secretly think it is your shyness and difficulty with networking that holds you back from succeeding, attend a networking seminar.

    Good things will happen

    Serendipity is the ability to make successful discoveries accidentally and the skill of finding worthwhile things without specifically looking for them. We can all cope with change by using serendipity.

    By opening our eyes to possibilities and believing that good things will happen, we allow events to move forward.

    If sipping a frrrozen hot chocolate dessert tempts you, then using new approaches to coping with change might tempt you too.



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