Individual to relate to other frameworks such as Kotter’s

Individual change management is
an understanding of how can individuals make a change successfully, enabling
them to make the transition from their current state to their desired future
state. Although it might seem straightforward, this is a very challenging process,
as there are several steps that comprise this individual change management
process. In fact, it not only requires an understanding of how individuals experience
change and what do they need to change, but also what are mechanisms or
behaviours that will help them to make a successful transition t0 o the future
state and how to consolidate these changes into their lives. Thus, this
semester I have been challenged to embrace an individual change management
project myself that could help me, hopefully, to become a better version of
myself. As I mentioned before, managing change is a complex process, thus to
explain the success of my change management project I have used as general
framework Kurt Lewin’s 3 Step Model from
(Unfreezing, Changing and Refreezing), but I also tried to relate to other frameworks
such as Kotter’s 8-Steps of Change or
Kubler-Ross’s Change Curve.

In
the first step, unfreezing, Lewin states
that to initiate a change process there is the need to unfreeze the existing
situation or status quo. Being unaware of what I could change, I debated about
what would be my project’s theme, and I finally decided to change something
that I find difficult to deal with, which is stress and overthinking. At this point, I tried to get a deeper
understanding of why did I needed to change and got motivated to move away from my comfort zone. Having said that, the
force field analysis was a very
useful mechanism to weight up the “pros” and “cons” of this change, as there
were driving forces that made this change attractive, but also restraining
forces that would work to keep things as they were. By doing this, I
realized that there were several driving
forces behind my stress management project that served as antecedents or catalysts to change. The first
driving force was to improve my
wellbeing, as stress generates physical effects that have a negative impact
in my physical and psychological health. For instance, stress disrupts my
body’s natural processes and I also tend to feel more depressed, anxious,
causing insomnia, difficulty to focus and make decisions, to think things
through and remember things. Besides that, I could also improve my confidence and self-esteem, as stress made me feel
insecure and frustrated; in addition, other driving force was to improve my relationship with others, as
sometimes I also feel irritated and impatient with others, ending up with some
relationship conflicts. However, there were some restraining forces for this change management project, that could have
restrained me of attaining my goal of successfully managing stress. Firstly, I was far away from my close circle of
supporters (family and friends) which could also interfere with my goal, as
I tend to be lonelier and more anxious. I am also passing through one challenging period, as I had some
interviews for graduate programs starting next year, making me more nervous. In
addition, another restraining force would be the fear of not being able to control my reactions, as they deeply
in-rooted and also related with my nervous system. Furthermore, another
restraining force would be my tendency
to rationalize potential options so that I can make the optimal decision.

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In fact, when I have to make a
decision, I have the habit to overthink; one can relate this with the bounded rationality model, as I try to
get a lot of information about all the available options, costing me a lot of
energy and time. In the end of this process, I am never satisfied, as I am
taking a decision under uncertainty, recurring to anchors and representativeness
heuristics to reach a final decision, which makes me feel concerned and
stressed, as I am reaching a satisfactory solution and not the optimal one. Besides
this, one can also relate my overthinking with the fundamental attribution error, which can also restrain this change
process. I have the tendency to overestimate the influence of internal factors,
being too hard on myself. For instance, I
saw some pictures of dinners on social media from some friends of my masters
and I think they did not invited me because they don’t like me, and
underestimate the influence of external factors – for instance, that this group
of friends might belong to the same group for a course project and they decided
to have dinner spontaneously after a project meeting. To accomplish successfully
this first stage of the process, the force
field analysis was an important
tool, as it made me feel committed and motivated, having realized in a more
objective way the perceived usefulness of
it for my personal and professional future. This moment of the process can also
be related with creating a sense of
urgency around the need for change in Kotter’s 8-Step Model as it sparkles
the initial motivation to get things moving. Nevertheless, there were
restraining forces that I tried to weaken – for instance, I was afraid of
changing and failing, so in order to overcome
this fear, I also understood the importance of forming a guiding coalition, the second step of Kotter’s 8-Step
Model. Having said that, I asked the
support of my sister and best friend, so that when I faced a stressful
situation they could remind me of my goal and keep myself motivated to guide
this change to success. Although this is a very personal project, attaining the
proposed goal will help me to be less dependent on them friend when I face
stress situations.

The second phase of Lewin’s
model is changing, being a phase in
which individuals start to look for a new of doing things and actually break
the status quo. At this point, I could also relate my feelings with Kubler-Ross’ Change Curve: firstly, I
felt I felt quite hopeless or in denial of how could I change my
behaviour towards stress and overthinking. This transition of breaking the
status quo did not happen from a day to the other and it takes time to actually
happen. For the first couple of weeks I was frustrated and resisted
to put this project as priority as I knew how difficult this change would be to
implement it in my daily life. Along this period, I had some stressful
situations and I realized I was not dealing these with a new behaviour and
attitude as I promised to myself in the beginning and not taking advantage of
the potential benefits of it. As the last step, gradually, I started to accept and embrace it, although the
support of my coalition, my support network, was vital to give the emotional
support I needed and to remember me of why did I started this project. It was
at this stage of the process, that I started planning, by understanding the activities or behaviours that I
should implement to transition the desired future state. Thus, I searched about the topic – stress
management and how to reduce overthinking in the internet and books, and I also
talked with one doctor in the family, so that I could have an idea of what type
of activities or “daily improvements” I should follow to prevent and deal with
these situations when they were occurring. Hence, I came up with a draft list
of actions and best practices to follow
in the upcoming months and I divided them into two – reactive and preventive
actions. The reactive actions
would help me to change my existing mindset when dealing with stress and
overthinking by understanding what’s behind these. Furthermore, the preventive
actions comprised introducing healthier behaviours into my daily routine, such as exercise
and eating healthier, so that the frequency of these situations decreased.

After this, I started to implement my
action plan, being this the
most challenging aspect of my change management project. I knew it would be
hard to implement all the proposed activities laid down
in the planning phase in the beginning, thus I made use of the sixth step in 8-Steps of Change from JP Kotter by realizing some benefits and improvements
in the short-term, i.e., quick-wins, so that I could recognize quicker the
benefits of this stress management process. So, I started to write a stress
diary to keep track of how I was
dealing with these situations and understanding on how I can improve in the
next time. After that, gradually, I started to embrace new attitudes,
behaviours and ways of dealing and preventing stress situations through my
action plan developed previously, namely the reactive and preventive actions. Regarding
the reactive set, when faced
with stressful situations, I tried to understand the reasoning behind the anxiety and stress
and relativizing them by remembering similar situations I have been through and
that everything ended up fine. Also, I tried to skip the temptation of calling my
family or friends to calm me down and tried to deal with it by myself. Another
behaviour I tried to implement, was to train my brain to be quieter as well by
avoiding thinking too much about decisions once they were made. In addition,
each time I got worried about the future, I made a list of actions that would
help me to achieve my goals and proactively act in the moment – whether that
would be doing a cover letter for job application, or simply calling a friend with
whom I had a recent fight. I have also improved the way I managed my time by
making clear lists of what needed to be done for that week. Lastly, I also
tried to work on a more positive mindset by reading more optimist books or
magazine articles. For instance, throughout this period, I read the book “The
Art of Possibility”, which has helped me to change the way I view life by
making simple shifts. This book reminded me the first Change Management class
in which students were asked to divide a square in eight equal parts after
being previously influenced by one similar exercise that the professor just
introduced. At that time, my mind was completely blocked for more possibilities
regarding the solution. In fact, when I faced situations that provoke me stress
I only see the standard solutions and this lesson has been helping me to look
further. In addition, I have also introduced healthier behaviours into my daily
routine, which helped to reduce the frequency of these situations. Firstly, I
gave myself a break by exercising more and eating healthier. In fact, I subscribed
Hot Yoga classes which I went twice a week. These classes included relaxation
techniques which also involved controlled breathing and meditation, making me
feel more balanced and relaxed and also helped me to sleep better and reduce my
insomnia. Besides that, I also introduced other healthier behaviours – I not
only started to go to bed early and tried to sleep at least seven hours, but I
have also reduced stimulants like coffee and sugar, which helped me to increase
my energy and have a more clear, focused and balanced mind. As I mentioned, I
explored these new behaviours gradually throughout these past months and
adjusted them according with my perception of their benefits for this change
process.

Lastly, the refreezing stage involves not only the
consolidation of the change at a new level and reinforcement through supporting
mechanisms, but also the evaluation of the progress made with the change effort,
which can also relate with the last phase of the Kotter’s model – institute change. I
believe I am still entering this last phase, as this process was more prolonged
than I realized, but I am very
satisfied with the success of this change management project accomplished, as I
feel more relaxed and in control of my emotions and reactions, which was
something it was hard for me before. Besides that, my stress management diary is
a tool that has been supporting me to continuously evaluate my change process as
it helped me to understand the drivers of my stress. Furthermore, two weeks
from now, I will come back home and I hope to maintain the behaviours and
attitudes I have been able to accomplish so far. For instance, eating
healthier, exercising more and doing mediation are now behaviours consolidated into my routine. Also, I
believe I am more independent now, as I learnt how to deal these situations by myself
being alone for the past months. In fact, one of my fears, in the beginning,
was that I was afraid of doing this by myself as I often rely on my sister and
best friend to deal with these situations. In one hand, coming back home means
that I will have my circle of support closer to deal with these situations, but
on the other hand, I need to skip the temptation of relying on my social
support network and to use this as an opportunity to continue with my
individual mechanisms of dealing with stress and overthinking. In addition,
although I am more aware of the impossibility of evaluating all the
possibilities when making a decision, I believe I still have to work on my
tendency to over-rationalizing these.

As a sum up, in such unstable
and unpredictable external environment, one of the most requested requisites
for individuals nowadays is the ability
to be flexible and adaptable. Having that said, I am grateful of being
challenged throughout this semester with this individual change management
project as it made me less scared and resistant to change, as I was able to
understand all the usefulness mechanisms available to approach and structure change,
not only in an individual but also organizational setting.