How to Be Open to Change and Uncertainty

  • Lauren Burke
Life & Careers

There are many people in this world who are planners, who thrive in structure, who schedule every moment of their day, and who fear unexpected changes to any predetermined path. However, even those who find themselves clinging to rigidity can benefit from learning to accept changes, no matter how quickly they come up.

I come from a background of playing Division I college sports, where my classes and studying were tightly scheduled around practices, workouts, and games. I thrived under a structured schedule where there was little room for deviating from the plan, or else I wouldn’t have the time I needed to get good grades, sleep, and play lacrosse. This structure allowed me to get ahead in credits, and going into my senior year, I unexpectedly found myself in a position to graduate early. At first, it was incredibly scary not knowing what I would be doing in four months at the end of the semester, where I would be, or what job I would be doing. That is the point where I knew I had to embrace change, which was coming even faster than I expected.

The experience of not knowing exactly what was going to happen was truly eye opening. I never realized how necessary change and uncertainty was to growing on a personal and professional level. I have found that they key to being open to change is that there are always opportunities and benefits one can take advantage of as long as you approach the situation with logic and level-headed emotions. Take the time to process the initial shock, and then look at how you can grow from the situation. While the change may not be going along with whatever “plan” you had, it can offer opportunities to grow beyond what was initially expected.

I knew graduating early meant starting a career early and saving money. However, in the opportunities I found, there have been even more benefits to leaving college a few months sooner than I ever imagined. For example, I joined a company at the cusp of moving from a start-up stage to becoming an established industry name. In these few months where I could have been sitting in class, I was working to define the collective culture and values of the firm, which is growing at such a fast rate that it has doubled since when I originally joined. In this dynamic environment, I’ve only found opportunities for more responsibility than a traditional, rigid corporation at my age and tenure would have given me. Even change within the firm has allowed me to take advantage of small twists and turns in my “path” that will only help me achieve longer term goals.

Ultimately, when adjusting to change, my biggest advice is keep an open mind and maintain a “glass-half-full” attitude. Wasted time and energy resisting change will only mean that the opportunities associated may be taken advantage of by others in the same situation. And while small changes are less frightening than big ones, any change can be taken advantage of as long as you have your end goal in mind. Taking the time to process how changes can help you grow and meet those goals is important in realizing just how beneficial change can be.

Lauren joined AlphaSights in 2014 and serves as an Associate on our Consulting segment.