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06 March 2017

It’s difficult to change and make change. And while we all know we are changing - every nanosecond of every minute of the day - that doesn’t make it any less stressful. So when IWD (International Women’s Day) this year announced its tagline as #BeBoldForChange, they knew what they were talking about, because to make and deal with change you have to be bold and stay bold.

The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale assigns weights, which it calls Life Change Units, to 43 life events, scoring them in relation to the stress they cause us and assessing the risk those accrued levels of stress pose to our health by such changes.

For adults, the top ten “Life Change Unit” scores are as follows:

  • Death of a spouse: 100
  • Divorce: 73
  • Marital separation: 65
  • Imprisonment: 63
  • Death of a close family member: 63
  • Personal injury or illness: 53
  • Marriage: 50
  • Dismissal from work: 47
  • Marital reconciliation: 45
  • Retirement: 45

A score of 300 or higher puts a person at risk of illness. 150-299 shows a moderate risk of illness and a score of less than 150 predicts only a slight risk of illness.

It’s surprising how your points mount up. I had nothing in the top 10, as measured over the past year, but I did have life change units. (I am not sure who you are if you don’t have something going on in your life on the list?) My LCUs included moving house, change in work conditions, increase in mortgage, going on a vacation. Before I knew it I’d amassed 174 LCUs, putting me in the moderate risk category.

Ask anyone who has ever challenged the status quo, broached an opinion, started a business, clung to an idea, what it is about change that requires you be bold and, I bet, it’s getting over fear - usually of failure.

Change exposes us to the very probable risk of failure, which, as author JK Rowling points out, it’s impossible to live and not experience, “unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

It’s why this #IWD we have approached our Women of Influence to be part of our #BeBoldForChange panel and talk about their experience making and living with change. Look out for our coverage on Facebook and Twitter and take inspiration from them where you can.

I must admit (like many people I know) I’ve spent my fair share of time working with therapists on coping with change and failure, and surprisingly, success. My tip: remember the behaviour you want to change in others or yourself - or whatever - will be complex. Break the behaviour down into small discrete units and then formulate strategies or actions that help you change those smaller behaviours in “baby steps”, eventually changing the whole through its parts.

Do too much too quickly and you are very likely to fail. It’s the frog in boiling water analogy. Don’t boil the water and throw in the frog. Instead, start with the frog in cold water and bring it to the boil: gruesome, but effective.

Remember, people around you and you, yourself, will also fear change and that can lead to failure. Talking and explaining what’s happening helps everyone come to terms with change.