Change is Hard. Change is Scary. Change is Good.

This post originally appeared in the monthly Orange Effect Foundation e-newsletter.

It’s February. Here in Cleveland that can often mean a lot of time at home because the weather can be so cold and the skies so gray. For me that means the new year’s resolutions start wearing off. Exercise becomes less frequent and dessert becomes more frequent.  

I tried to do some reading on what I can do to keep myself from falling back into bad habits. There were numerous articles on motivation and goal setting, but what I finally realized is that I am really resistant to change. I am comfortable with the habits I have created. They are safe and familiar.  

This article does a great job explaining why change is hard for so many. First and foremost there really needs to be quite a bit of planning and preparation for change to be successful. It’s an entire process, a behavioral change that takes time and can cause a lot of anxiety and fear, even if the positive outcomes outweigh the current situation.  

This fall our oldest son will leave for college. He discussed with us for awhile the possibility of staying home and attending community college. While this is a great option for many, and would certainly lead to much less fear and stress for me and my son, it’s not the best option for him. It’s time for him to learn that change can be great. Change can lead to new friends, new hobbies, new experiences and (hopefully) a lot of growth and independence! 

While we know he is going to leave in August, we are hanging tight in the preparation stage referenced in the above article, knowing that the action stage is really not that far away. It’s something for me to focus on too in relation to my personal goals. Where do I want to be with my physical and mental health by the time he graduates and leaves? What steps can I do now so that the change is not so sudden and scary?

For children who need speech therapy change can be equally if not more challenging and scary. Going to see a therapist can cause extreme levels of anxiety because it is a stranger but also because this person is going to try and force a lot of change in order for the child to succeed. Parents of these children have added stress due to the financial concerns that come with needed therapy or technology to help their child communicate. Here at Orange Effect we are so fortunate to be able to help ease some of the stress for parents by providing that financial support. 

So for all of trying to change, whether it is healthy habits, children leaving, or children needing extra support such as speech therapy, let’s remember that it is a process, often a lengthy one, and that we need to get the right systems in place around us to help it be less scary. 

Pam is the Executive Director of the Orange Effect Foundation. She worked in the marketing field for the past 10 years, serving as Chief Operations Officer for Content Marketing Institute. During that time she found her passion to build and lead amazing teams because of the commitment of the staff at CMI. Pam also helped to create Content Marketing World, an event where over 3500 marketers come together annually to learn and network with the best and brightest. Pam's background is in social work, and she is raising a son with autism so the opportunity to start and direct this nonprofit is a dream come true. She has been a key leader in the CMI Golf for Autism the past 11 years and a champion for many other nonprofit organizations.