Accepting Change – Understanding the Change Curve

“Accepting Change – Understanding the Change Curve” written by Guest Contributor.

I’ve been going to the same gym for the past 3 years now. It’s convenient, just 10 minutes from my home. I have my favorite cycling instructor, and know where my favorite weight machines are. I could literally find my way in the dark to the cardio theater to do a run on the treadmill. I love the results I’ve been getting from my weekly routine of cycling and running on the treadmill.

About two weeks ago, as I exchanged some small talk with the regular employees at the desk, I was hit with the news that the club was closing it’s doors on October 2, 2014. I was informed I have the option of going to another club about 3 miles away or any of the clubs in Cincinnati. The news was a complete surprise, and my initial thoughts were “But, I don’t want to go to another club! I don’t want to drive to another place,” and turns out this is a normal response to any change in our lives according to something called the Change Curve.

What is the Change Curve?

The Change Curve is a model used to understand the stages people goes through when they are going through a change in their lives. It is often attributed to psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who you might remember from basic psychology for her work on the stages of grief.

The Change Curve describes four stages most people go through as they adjust to change.

Accepting Change - Understanding the Change Curve - pic1

Change Curve – Stage 1 – Shock and Denial

When a person first hears about a change, their initial reaction may be shock or denial. For me, with the gym closing, it was a complete shock. I was not expecting it at all. The gym had been there for many years, and I had no reason to suspect a change.

Change Curve – Stage 2 – Anger and Fear

Once the reality of the change starts to hit, people tend to react negatively and move to stage 2 of the Change Curve: They feel fear of the impact or feel angry; and try to resist or protest against the changes. Some of the fears may be justified, and some will not. My fears were that the disruption in my routine would set back some of my fitness goals.

For as long as people resist the change and remain at stage 2 of the Change Curve, the change will be detrimental. This can be a stressful and unpleasant stage.

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Change Curve – Stage 3 – Acceptance

It’s healthier to try to move to stage 3 of the Change Curve as quickly as possible where pessimism and resistance give way to some optimism and acceptance.

At stage 3 of the Change Curve, people stop focusing on what they’ve lost. They start to let go, and accept the change. They begin testing and exploring what the change means, and so learn the reality of what’s good and not so good, and how they must adapt.  For me, I started to look into my options. I mapped out which route would be the quickest and got a shedule of the new cycling classes.

This is the turning point. Once you turn the corner to stage 3, you start to come out of the danger zone, and are on the way to making a successful change.

Change Curve – Stage 4 – Commitment

By stage 4, you not only accept the change, but also start to embrace it: You rebuild your ways of working, meet new people, and start to reap the benefits of the change.

I finally started to see some of the benefits. The new location has a bigger pool and nicer locker room, and it’s size is able to accommodate more fitness classes. I am beginning to see some of the positive aspects of the change, and have established a normal workout routine again.

When you are going through changes in your life, here’s what you can do to help facilitate an easy transition from one stage to the next: 

Stage 1

This is a communication stage. For me, the gym communicated what my options were, and answered all of my questions. This eased my transition into stage 2.

Stage 2

Some of the resistance was about feeling like I’d developed a certain competence to the way i’d been doing things. The change means learning a new routine and opening myself up to vulnerability. I had to make sure that I addressed any concerns early. I asked for support, and took action to minimize any problems.

Stage 3

This is the stage to test and explore  the waters of what the change means. I had to be easy on myself and not expect to be 100 percent productive during this time. I allowed myself the time to learn and explore without too much pressure on myself. It’s a transition and as long as I was taking small steps toward the new routine, that’s enough!

Stage 4

This stage is the one I was waiting for! This is where the changes start to become second nature, and I embraced the improvements.

The Only Thing in Life That is Constant is Change

Being aware of the stages and knowing that it’s normal to feel this way will help facilitate the movement from one stage to the next. Don’t forget to celebrate  your success! By celebrating your achievement, you’ve established a track record of success: Which will make things easier the next time you confront a change In your life.


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