Taking action to transform your story is hard, especially when you are in it.  Doing something different, both thinking and acting are hard. But it is not impossible! I was reminded of this recently when building a wine cabinet from IKEA.

IKEA furniture is known for the hours needed to assemble each piece. My confidence was high in a recent attempt that by following the instructions, I would be done in a few hours.

When I started, my energy and excitement were high. I couldn’t wait to put my wine in the cabinet and have everything set up for my friends to see.

Step one and two were quickly completed.  I felt my confidence building and recall thinking, “How hard can this be?” Steps 3 and 4 took a little longer but were finished without incident

It was around step 6 when I flipped to the back of the instruction booklet to see how many steps there were. There were 16 steps and I had been working on this wine cabinet for an hour.

With each additional step, I realized the project was made for two people to build –not one. As I attempted to move the cabinet, that was being held together with screws and wood chips that may or may not have been in place, the cabinet collapsed. The collapse stripped screws from the holes and broke several wood chips.

There were no extra screws or wood chips to replace the ones I just broke. So I ran to the local hardware store to find replacements. What started as an exercise in possibility turned into an act of labor and frustration.

Pride (along with the help of fermented grapes, aged in oak) got me through building the cabinet. The irony of building the cabinet got me thinking about the cycle of emotion and action when we manage how we manage change.

Manage the Transition

Self-help acknowledges that: a. you are likely doing this on your own; b. you have the confidence to succeed through the reading material or listening to others; and c. upon reading the instructions, you will do whatever is prescribed for an ideal outcome.

To manage your transition, remind yourself before and during that:

  1. You’re Running a Marathon, Not a Sprint – Your excitement and possibility will start high and as the instances, days and weeks go by, your excitement will wane. Know that you are making incremental progress measured by short-term goals.
  1. Progress Over Perfection – During change, you may do everything according to plan, but you still might fail. You are less likely to get it right the first time. Prepare yourself to manage the ebb and flow of success and failures by establishing realistic expectations and rewards for progress.
  1. You Didn’t Get Here in a Day – Your change will take longer to do than you expect. Plan your time and emotions accordingly.

When managing your transition, through these simple concepts and expectations (and maybe wine), you too can build your cabinet.

What have you found helpful when managing your transitions?

Dr. Ian Brooks