How to Encourage Clients to Embrace Change

Embrace ChangeMany of us struggle with change, especially when it’s imposed upon us rather than chosen.

Despite its inevitability, without it, there would be no development, growth, innovation, or creativity.

The American statesman Benjamin Franklin once said,

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Sparks, 1856, p. 410

If everything else is uncertain, then change is our constant companion in life (Zebian, 2024).

It is only when we embrace change that we remain open to new possibilities for growth, creativity, and innovation.

To help your clients overcome their resistance to change, we share tools, tips, and inspiring quotes to encourage a positive transformation.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Goal Achievement Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients create actionable goals and master techniques to create lasting behavior change.

Why Should We Embrace Change? 10 Benefits

Overall, embracing change is crucial, both on a personal and organizational level. It helps individuals and organizations adapt, thrive, and stay ahead in a continuously evolving world (Barry, 2021; Zebian, 2024).

Learning to embrace change offers numerous benefits, both personally and professionally, including:

  1. Personal growth
    Change pushes us out of our comfort zone, encourages learning, and develops new skills. This leads to increased confidence, self-esteem, and personal growth as clients discover their capabilities (Barry, 2021).
  2. Adaptability and flexibility
    When we embrace change, we become more adaptable and flexible and better able to navigate new situations and uncertainties. This is valuable in both personal and professional life (David, 2017).
  3. Creativity and innovation
    Change often leads to new ideas and solutions. Being open to change fosters creativity and a culture of innovation (Jieqiong, 2021).
  4. More opportunities
    Change can open us to new opportunities that we may not have considered before, leading to personal and professional advancement (Barry, 2021).
  5. Wider perspective
    Embracing change broadens our perspective, allowing us to see the world from different angles and gain a deeper understanding of diverse viewpoints and experiences (David, 2017).
  6. Resilience
    Facing uninvited change reveals our strengths and enhances resilience by teaching us to navigate setbacks and overcome challenges (Hanson, 2018).
  7. Lifelong learning
    Embracing change promotes lifelong learning and curiosity, as we constantly adapt and acquire new knowledge and skills (Jieqiong, 2021).
  8. Greater success
    By embracing change, we make room for growth and can expand our perceptions, beliefs, and performance, leading to greater success (Hanson, 2018).
  9. Cultural enrichment
    Change can lead to a richer, more diverse culture as a range of perspectives interact and integrate into new forms of cultural life and expression (Barry, 2021; Zebian, 2024).
  10. Greater life satisfaction
    Embracing change reduces the anxiety associated with the unknown and can result in a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, enhancing overall wellbeing (Barry, 2021; David, 2017; Zebian, 2024).

In essence, embracing change cultivates personal growth, adaptability, creativity, resilience, and a mindset conducive to lifelong learning and success.

Download 3 Free Goals Exercises (PDF)

These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients create actionable goals and master techniques for lasting behavior change.

Psychological & Other Barriers to Change

Psychological barriers to change refer to internal factors that prevent the adoption of new behaviors even when we want to change.

Following is a list of the main psychological barriers to accepting change that recent research (Hubbart, 2023; Rehman et al., 2021; Venus et al., 2018) has identified, accompanied by practical examples.

  • Denial
    The denial of the necessity for change, believing it is optional.
    For example, a person with an alcohol addiction may know that change is necessary but acts as if it were optional by continuing to drink.
  • Conflicting goals and aspirations
    Other priorities, habits, or sunk costs that conflict with the desired change make it difficult to find the time or motivation to embrace change.
    For example, you want to go to the gym to get fitter but also enjoy video gaming from your couch. Your ingrained gaming behavior may often win out.
  • Interpersonal costs
    The fear of social disapproval, criticism, or negative reactions to changed behavior.
    Deciding to quit smoking may have social costs, like avoiding old friends who still smoke.
  • Lack of required skills
    This means not knowing what action to take to achieve the desired behavior.
    An example might be not knowing how to navigate grief following a relationship breakup. You might want to move on but become stuck in resentment.
  • Tokenism
    The belief that no further personal investment is needed, as enough has already been done.
    This could be a problem in organizations that pledge to support greater diversity and equality in the workplace. They might appoint a disabled person to their board of directors, but do not make the changes needed to accommodate frontline staff with disabilities.
  • Externalizing responsibility
    Placing the responsibility for action on the government, industry, or others instead of taking personal responsibility.
    Taking the example of a relationship breakup, feeling hopeless and resentful can often be a consequence of blaming your ex, but healing or finding a new partner requires taking personal responsibility.
  • Cognitive limitations
    Having biases that hinder rational decision-making for change.
    A common example is saying “We’ve always done it this way” to refuse innovation and efficiency. Introducing new technology in large organizations is often met with this type of resistance.
  • Ideologies
    Having worldviews, beliefs, or ideological reasons that justify inaction or oppose the change.
    Some people have religious beliefs or political values that oppose certain types of change. For example, some politically conservative people oppose social welfare as they believe expanding the government’s role infringes on individual freedom and undermines personal responsibility.
  • Perceived risks
    If the risks or costs of change are perceived as higher than the benefits, then change will be opposed.
    An example is the move toward digital ID in many Western societies to prevent fraud. This is meeting with resistance due to the perceived risks to individuals’ privacy and freedom.

These psychological barriers can explain why individuals may not embrace change, even when they agree with it or in the absence of structural or external barriers (Hubbart, 2023; Rehman et al., 2021). Overcoming these internal barriers is crucial for promoting sustainable behavior change.

For a moving account of how embracing change can open up new opportunities and promote a positive mindset, take a look at this TEDx talk by Manu Shahi. Shahi’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer, yet after the initial shock, she found a way to transform the tragedy into an opportunity for personal growth.

How changing your mindset can help you embrace change

How to Encourage Your Clients to Embrace Change

Encourage your clients to embrace change with the following strategies drawn from recent research (Venus et al., 2018). These are often used to cultivate resilience but also help navigate change (Barry, 2021; David, 2017; Hanson, 2018; Zebian, 2024).

1. Foster a growth mindset

Help clients reframe change as an opportunity for growth and development. Highlight their strengths to help them develop a growth mindset that will equip them to cope with change more confidently.

2. Goal setting

Help clients shift their perspective from fear to curiosity by exploring the potential advantages of change. Ask them to envision the best possible outcomes and create a positive vision to motivate them.

Clients are more likely to accept change if they feel a sense of ownership and involvement. Collaborate with them to set goals, break them down into smaller steps, track their progress, and plan regular reviews throughout the process.

3. Gratitude for strengths and new opportunities

Change can be overwhelming, so assure clients that it’s OK to feel apprehensive. Remind them that you’re there to support them through the uncertainty.

Celebrate small victories along the way to reinforce progress. Use reflective questions and exercises to help clients uncover their intrinsic motivations and personal values. Self-discovery can be a powerful motivator for embracing change. Try this free Gratitude Journal worksheet for guidance.

4. Acceptance of impermanence

Acceptance involves giving up the struggle with inevitable changes that we cannot control. It doesn’t entail resignation but fosters the wisdom at the foundation of resilience by conserving the energy we lose through pointless worrying.

Reminding clients of their capabilities and resilience is essential. With time and patience, anyone can navigate any change. Maintaining a consistent message of hope and positivity also supports the process.

For a powerful demonstration of how to persuade and encourage others to embrace change, watch this TEDxPerth talk by the founder of Minds At Work, Jason Clarke.

Embracing Change - Jason Clarke

11 Tools and Techniques to Use

In this section, we’re sharing a range of downloadable free resources to help you support your clients as they embrace change.

5 worksheets

Powerful Change Questions can help motivate your clients to navigate change by daring to dream about what change might look like. It’s based on the GROW coaching model (Whitmore, 2017).

This Resilience and Change worksheet helps your client identify their existing resources, or psychological capital, that they can draw on to cultivate resilience and embrace change.

Clients can benefit from the Undoing Bad Habits worksheet, which encourages conscious behavioral changes. The worksheet reframes bad habits as unattractive, difficult, and unsatisfying, thereby preventing their activation.

A wonderful worksheet to follow up with is this Creating Good Habits worksheet, which helps clients sustain good habits that they find intrinsically rewarding and satisfying.

Strengths in Challenging Times worksheet helps clients identify their strengths and draw on them to overcome challenges like unwelcome or sudden change.

4 coping tools

This Coping: Stressors and Resources tool helps clients identify how they have coped with stress in the past and develop coping skills to overcome present and future stressors, such as uninvited change.

Our “What If?” Bias tool encourages clients to identify any habitual negative expectations of change and avoid catastrophizing.

By Exploring Past Resilience, clients are reminded how they overcame challenges in the past, which helps them recognize their coping strategies and cultivate resilience in future.

The Decatastrophizing worksheet is a cognitive restructuring tool to help clients who have become overwhelmed by catastrophic thinking.

2 mindfulness exercises

Mindfulness is a well-known stress-management intervention. Most people associate it with meditation, but the following tools are based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which uses “off-the-cushion” mindfulness techniques to manage the stress of behavioral change.

This mindfulness exercise supports your clients in accepting that behavioral change is always accompanied by discomfort and that being willing to tolerate that is necessary to achieve cherished goals.

Similarly, this exercise called Thoughts and Feelings: Struggle or Acceptance helps clients nurture acceptance of uncomfortable thoughts and feelings in the service of positive transformation.

In addition to these resources, we have listed several articles with linked tools and worksheets to help your clients embrace change below.

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10 Tips for Maintaining Openness to Experience

Openness to changeHere are some tips to foster openness to experience, which is a key to learning to embrace change as an opportunity for personal growth (Barry, 2021; David, 2017; Hanson, 2018; Zebian, 2024).

  1. Engage in cultural activities, like concerts, art exhibitions, and films, and explore new styles of cultural expression. This exposes you to different perspectives and ideas.
  2. Try new hobbies and activities. Be experimental by learning a new instrument, language, art form, or skill like coding. Stepping outside your comfort zone builds openness.
  3. Exercise regularly. Physical activity appears to help maintain openness into older age by boosting confidence and a willingness to try new things.
  4. Seek out awe-inspiring experiences. Cultivate a childlike sense of wonder by going for walks and appreciating the beauty around you with fresh eyes. This boosts humility and enhances openness to experience.
  5. Get out of your comfort zone. Intentionally do things that stretch you, like volunteering at community events to meet new people and explore new places.
  6. Cultivate curiosity and explore new ideas by reading about random topics that interest you, with no specific goal in mind.
  7. Nurture your creativity by engaging in creative hobbies like painting, creating pottery, writing poetry, or playing an instrument. Other creative activities include cooking, gardening, sewing, or crocheting. All these activities consist of making something new, which is very satisfying. They also help you maintain existing skills or develop new ones, which is very important for remaining open and curious.
  8. Increase tolerance of uncertainty. Approach new situations with a “beginner’s mind,” being open and nonjudgmental, to become more comfortable with the unknown. Mindfulness can help develop our tolerance of uncertainty.
  9. Travel and experience other cultures. When traveling, try staying with locals to observe how they live and gain new perspectives.
  10. Explore a new place locally. If you can’t go abroad, then find a part of a town or city nearby that you haven’t been to or venture out walking in a new part of the countryside. Be prepared to go off the beaten track and discover new things as you go, including meeting and chatting with strangers.

The key is to continually expose yourself to novel ideas, activities, and ways of thinking to keep an open mindset. Treat it all as an adventure and, most importantly, have fun!

Inspiring Quotes About Embracing Change

If you find clients resistant to embracing change, sharing inspiring quotes can be highly motivating. Here are five of the best embracing change quotes with references.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Mandela, 2003, as cited by the Nelson Mandela Foundation

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

Watts, 1966, p. 44

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

Kennedy, 1963, as cited by the American Presidency Project

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.”

Rohn, 1981, p. 18

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Gandhi, 1957, p. 223

These quotes highlight the importance of embracing change as an opportunity for growth, progress, and making a positive impact by believing in everyone’s ability to drive meaningful change.

17 Tools To Increase Motivation and Goal Achievement

These 17 Motivation & Goal Achievement Exercises [PDF] contain all you need to help others set meaningful goals, increase self-drive, and experience greater accomplishment and life satisfaction.

Created by Experts. 100% Science-based.

Useful Resources From PositivePsychology.com

We have a bunch of articles about change that include free linked resources, as follows:

You may also find it interesting to read about Buddhist perspectives on change as a sense of endless possibility. Try our article, How to Accept the Impermanence of Life: A Buddhist Take.

We also have our Realizing Resilience Masterclass© for practitioners seeking to deepen their understanding of resilience and learn how to equip clients with the skills they need to embrace change. It also earns you eight ICF-approved continuing coaching education credits.

Furthermore, our Resilience X program provides all the resources required to deliver resilience training in a range of contexts. Offering workshops to groups enables you to benefit more people in a shorter space of time.

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others reach their goals, check out this collection of 17 validated motivation & goal achievement tools for practitioners. Use them to help others turn their dreams into reality by applying the latest science-based behavioral change techniques.

A Take-Home Message

Embracing change is necessary for growth and success.

Change brings new opportunities, fosters innovation, and allows us to adapt to unforeseen challenges. By welcoming change, we can keep abreast of new trends, which strengthens our ability to flourish and thrive in an ever-evolving world.

Embracing new ideas and approaches leads to creative solutions and economic and social progress. While resisting change can lead to stagnation, embracing change opens the door to a future of unlimited possibilities.

You can help your clients foster a growth mindset and explore the benefits of change. Use these tools to guide clients to embrace change as an opportunity for growth and learning.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Goal Achievement Exercises for free.

Frequently Asked Questions

Embracing change is something that can be learned with practice. Therefore, it can be considered a skill, or rather a collection of skills.

Accept uncertainty and loss, remain open to new circumstances, set goals for navigating change, and see change as an opportunity for growth.

Embracing change means acceptance, open-mindedness and willingness to adapt, and seeing it as an opportunity for growth.

  • The American Presidency Project. (n.d.). Address in the Assembly Hall at the Paulskirche in Frankfurt. Retrieved June 10, 2024, from https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/address-the-assembly-hall-the-paulskirche-frankfurt
  • Barry, H. (2021). Embracing change: How to build resilience and make change work for you. Orion Spring.
  • David, S. (2017). Emotional agility: Get unstuck, embrace change and thrive in work and life. Penguin.
  • Gandhi, M. K. (1957). Gandhi: An autobiography: The story of my experiments with truth. Beacon Press.
  • Hanson, R. (2018). Resilient: 12 tools for transforming everyday experiences into lasting happiness. Rider.
  • Hubbart, J. A. (2023). Organizational change: The challenge of change aversion. Administrative Sciences, 13(7), Article 162.
  • Jieqiong, L. (2021). Linking psychological capital and behavioral support for change: The roles of openness to change and climate for innovation. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, Article 612149.
  • Nelson Mandela Foundation. (n.d.). Speech at the launch of Mindset Network. Johannesburg. Retrieved June 10, 2024, from http://www.mandela.gov.za/mandela_speeches/2003/030716_mindset.htm
  • Rehman, N., Mahmood, A., Ibtasam, M., Murtaza, S. A., Iqbal, N., & Molnár, E. (2021). The psychology of resistance to change: The antidotal effect of organizational justice, support and leader-member exchange. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, Article 678952.
  • Rohn, J. (1981). The five major pieces to the life puzzle. Embassy Books.
  • Sparks, J. (1856). The writings of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. X (1789–1790). Macmillan.
  • Venus, M., Stam, D., & van Knippenberg, D. (2018, August 15). To get people to embrace change, emphasize what will stay the same. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2018/08/research-to-get-people-to-embrace-change-emphasize-what-will-stay-the-same.
  • Watts, A. (1966). The book: On the taboo against knowing who you are. Pantheon Books.
  • Whitmore, J. (2017). Coaching for performance: The principles and practice of coaching and leadership. Nicholas Brealey.
  • Zebian, N. (2024). The only constant: A guide to embracing change and leading an authentic life. Yellow Kite.

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