Change Happens: How Do You Adapt?

Change - coins

No, not that kind of change…

How can you better adapt to change?

Why does change suck so much?


As the old saying goes, “the only thing constant in life is change.”


This past Monday, my company had a change consultant come to our office named Paula Mulford. Paula’s been working in the field of change consulting for more than 25 years, and was brought in to help our organization shift from an office and cube farm setup to open office environment. Needless to say, many things changed as our office got smaller and moved to different part of the city. We all went through change as we transitioned to a new noisier, more collaborative, smaller, more social, less formal and more exciting space.


Paula’s role as a consultant – spending about 4 hours total with us – brought out multiple exercises, fascinating facts, demos and group activities.


Did you know that the number one factor indicative of professional success is a commitment to self development?



What kinds of changes have you had in your life in the past 5 years?

Take 3 minutes to reflect yourself: what changes have happened to you in the last 5 years? Job, title, boss, living situation, relationship, location changes? Which ones of these were hard? Which were good changes? Which were significant experiences that you learned from?


Sometimes the hardest changes are be ones that we learn and grow the most from.


How do you react to change?

People tend to go through multiple stages in reacting to new experiences; it’s important to acknowledge that and try to process it. Acknowledging that there is a process can help you to develop strategies to process it and get over it.

Managing change is a life skill, and so many of the books and advice I’ve read and heard reinforce this. It got me thinking, especially after meeting Paula and going through a half-day workshop on change, how have I adapted to change in the past and how can I continue to embrace these kinds of activities in the future?


Here are some techniques that I’ve used to adapt to change:


  • Career: keep my skills relevant to avoid becoming obsolete when the job market changes through audio books (hello, Audible) and certifications like this one; talk to friends and co-workers about skills that I should develop related to my career goals; create collaborative, meaningful relationship with people that I like and trust at work to be able to have honest exchanges about my skills and the environment I’m in.
  • Relationship-related: balance time with family and friends; recognize when shifts happen in friendships (as my sister says, some relationships are for a reason, a season or a lifetime… and it’s okay when a relationship evolves and you don’t have things in common with that person).
  • Personal: embrace the excitement of change; start to internalize that mentality that most things aren’t forever, so you can have perspective that any given experience that isn’t enjoyable can change or that a great experience should be savored but not clung to too tightly; re-evaluate and reflect on your life every so often (for me in 2014, I’m reviewing my goals on a weekly, monthly and annual basis).


I even had an “embrace change” happy hour last year to celebrate and embrace the huge life changes (break up, move and job change) that I had recently experienced. Who’d drink to that?!


But, if we all know that in any point in our lives (whether late 20s, late 90s or some other point in our existence), the rest of our lives is going to be full of change, what other attitude would you want to take than to try to be as positive as you can – assuming that you really are aiming for a happy life?



What resources, books or techniques have you used to adapt to change?

Run Commuting from Bridge to Bridge

How do people manage to get up at 4:30 am and exercise for 1 hour and a half each morning? I used to envy those people, and thought that I would never be part of that group (I also used to never think that I would be able to say that I am a runner, but that is another story). The concept of run commuting has changed my life and my exercise routine. And, you can get in an hour and a half of exercise without waking up extra early.


I’m lucky to be able to live in San Francisco, and in a place where I do have a safe and fairly direct route to work. I like to think that this is part of the benefits of the arm-and-leg that I’m paying in rent. So, if you’re living outside of a major, expensive US city, take comfort – you’re probably paying as much for your mortgage as I am for my apartment rent each month.


Back to run commuting. The idea dawned on me after I felt frustrated and exhausted after making the one hour commute by bus from my apartment to my office. Can you imagine – 1 hour of commute when you’re commuting within your own city? That is the joy we call Muni in San Francisco – though, all jokes aside, my apartment did spill out onto a quiet street with a stunning view of the international orange-painted Golden Gate Bridge.


Market Street during a run commute

The view of Market Street, where I run commute.


I had walked to work from previous apartments, which had seemed more reasonable – a 2 1/2 mile walk to work, downhill, is not too bad. But running to work for a total distance of 7 miles?


I’ve noticed the similar vein of reactions that I receive when I tell people that I run 7 miles to work once a week.


“What? Don’t you get all sweaty and gross for work?”


“How do you show up for work like that?”


The Distance.

I explain that the distance isn’t too bad – as someone who has run half marathons, 7 miles is a moderate long run, and there is only a bit of uphill in the route I take. I get a scenic tour of San Francisco as I run through Golden Gate Park and a colorful journey when I traverse Market Street from the Castro.



I bought a hiking backpack, thanks to the influence of an ex-boyfriend, about two years ago. I nearly donated it a few times, but luckily had some idea that I would hike again some day. The backpack, a 30 gallon backpack purchased from REI, offers a waist and upper body strap to keep the weight on my hips and to stop excessive bouncing. With the counter intuitive packing technique of light things at the bottom, heavy on top, I do strategize carefully to bring only the essentials – likely a dress, flat shoes, other necessities and only my wallet plus padlock.


The Gym.

Crucial to making the run commuting work, I belong to a gym where I’m provided a shower, towel, soap and shampoo. So, no need to show up to work gross, and I’m even provided a place to store my smelly clothes and backpack.


Voila – run commuting. It’s a strange sport that I love – functional and not yet mainstream.


Have you thought about run commuting? San Franciscans, would like to join me in my current run commute from my new home in the Mission District to SoMA?

Setting New Year’s Goals, 2014

Happy New Year 2014.


The 2013 year was a year of enormous changes for me – I changed relationships status (read: now single), living situation (I moved in September and then prepared for my move in early January) and job (after 4 years at my old company, I moved on to a new workplace). I traveled for work and personal reasons, continued to examine how to grow in my own life, and learned to embrace change even better than I had before. I’m looking forward to making 2014 the best year yet.

Many people think as the beginning of January to embark on new year’s resolutions: a few flimsy, weakly defined goal statements that revolve around eating less, working out more, making more money, or advancing in one’s career.

I see the new year as a time to reassess goals for the year, and seriously lay out plans to achieve them. Though far from perfect, my goal setting has been strongly influenced by 2 main schools of thought: Peter Bregman’s 18 Minutes a Day and Chris Brogan’s 3 words idea.


18 Minutes A Day, Cover

18 Minutes A Day by Peter Bregman, has been a book about goal setting that has influenced how I set my own goals.

  • Peter Bregman in 18 Minutes A Day focuses on the idea that you should prioritize what you want to accomplish out of your year by first narrowing your focus areas of what you want to achieve to 5 – 6 categories. You then make a daily schedule that consistently hits upon these themes. The 18 minutes aspect comes in with the check-ins during the course of a given day: 5 minutes at the beginning of the day, 1 minute for each hour of work (assuming you do this during once an hour in an 8 hour work day) and 5 minutes at night.


  • Chris Brogan, in his called “My Three Words for 2014” talks about reflecting deeply about what you want to accomplish and setting themes for the year that are embodied in 3 words which capture the themes in a positive manner. The words are meant to be personal to you and should have a story behind them. For example, one of my words for 2013 was “canoe”, coming from the metaphor that each person is paddling their own canoe (in their personal and professional lives) – and that in order to be content with myself, my achievements and my life journey, I needed to keep in mind that I was paddling my own canoe.


I’ve set my 2014 themes and goals, which I’ll share in a later post. Mostly, they target parts of my marketing career, relationships with family & friends and healthy lifestyle.

What are you focusing your 2014 goals on?


Jen Burstedt

Lean In While Eating Healthy, Too

Coming home to a quiet apartment after a full day of work, the last thing I want to do is tap into my culinary creativity, search online and spend an hour over a hot stove. Too much mental and physical energy.


What is a busy, career-oriented woman to do in order to live a life where she thrive in her career while also being able to cook healthy, balanced meals without relying on mixes, commercial frozen food or takeout?



While experimenting with new veggies, I bought cactus to cook. The meal: cooked cactus & veggies plus a salad. Quick and easy!

Some ideas:


* Crockpot cooking: find a recipe online, dice up some veggies, and perhaps a few slices of bacon, give it 8 hours and you’ve cooked yourself a great stew. Crockpots are amazing, and you can make so much more than stews. Check out some of these recipes for BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, cheese fondue, amazing apple butter


* Freezing food: when you do have time on a weekend, take a few hours to cook food in batches… and then freeze it. Things that I typically freeze: soups, quiches and root vegetables we aren’t able to eat in time.


* Planning & shopping the weekend prior: planning your meals for the week on a Saturday morning, then shopping on Saturday afternoon or Sunday, is one of the great ways to increase the chance you’ll cook complete meals, remember everything you need for these meals at the grocery store and avoid coming upon Monday night with no real ingredients or real idea of what you want to make.


* Find a partner who will cook for/with you: although some guys are hesitant in the kitchen, my boyfriend is a scientist at heart: he loves to experiment and so he’s a good cook. If your guy isn’t as enthusiastic, encourage him to cook anything he might know (steak? chicken? rockin’ green smoothies?) and have that be part of your next meal.


Though I still have those weeknights where it just is easier to call for a pizza, I remind myself that making an effort to eat home cooked meals most of the time means I have a pretty good track record. It’s important not to be too hard on yourself when first getting to the swing of meal planning and cooking.


What tricks do you use to save time and create healthy meals when juggling a busy schedule?

Tips & Tools for Half Marathon Training

Before February 2012, I had never run a half marathon – or even more than 6 miles, for that matter. I remember the first time that I ran more than 6 miles; the excitement I felt, in knowing that I was training to run 7.1 miles more. Breaking the 10 mile mark was one of the best milestones I’ve had so far. The achievement oriented side of my personality gleefully celebrated the fact that I could even brag to someone that I had run 10 miles in one day.


Running didn’t come completely naturally, but a few factors helped me complete my first half marathon and finish in a decent time:


Exhausted but smiling after my second half marathon in Napa Valley, CA. It was a hot day and I managed to mess up my knee about half way through – though still finished in around 2 hours 25 minutes.


* A Hal Higdon training plan [yes – for those people who were like me and didn’t have a clue about how training works, getting into shape means planning to run. If you’re like most people who might not be able to instinctively feel how long you should run each time you go out and want to reach a certain mileage goal, a training plan is essential.]


* Journaling my training plan [adding on to simply having a training plan, the next step is keeping track of what you’re doing. By creating a simple Google spreadsheet, you can create a calendar and for each week, separate rows for “Planned Exercise”, “Actual” and “Notes” so you start to track and reflect what is contributing to successes or failures.]


* A running buddy [for me, half the battle is getting up on a weekend morning, getting in gear and starting. Having someone else strongly encourage you definitely increases the success that you’ll actually get out there.]


* Diet changes [though not necessary, I challenged myself to go 2 months without ingesting caffeine, refined sugar and alcohol. Though it was rough, and I didn’t have 100% success, this temporary challenge helped to guide me to better food choices. Plus, never having the excuse for hangovers means it is a lot harder to miss weekend runs!]


Of course, apps are great for tracking distance and pace; RunKeeper is one of my favorites, though I generally like to leave my phone at home at this point in my running career.


My Fitbit One keeps me company and is great to be able to see actual distance.


To plan runs:


* Use Google Maps or (USA Track and Field). The USATF website as of now is a bit easier to use; you can type in your zip code and draw out a route of where you want to run to figure out distance and elevation changes.


Feel free to comment below if you have any half marathon training tips. I’m contemplating a marathon in my future, but for now, the half marathon is a great challenge to get in shape and feel a sense of accomplishment.

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