Enough about the Pain. Here’s HOW You Can Thrive through Change.

This article originally appeared in the Gen-i Blog.

The verb ‘to thrive’ is one that has become quite in vogue – uniting organic cafes, horticultural charities, and sites for health and well-being advice. With its sense of health and activity, fertility and beauty, it points toward a holistic vision of individuals and communities flourishing in their environment.

Yet, the word’s etymology – its history – points to a meaning that’s quite different, and perhaps even lovelier. Dictionaries today give ‘to grow or develop well’ as thrive’s primary meaning. Yet, the word’s root comes from Old Norse – the language spoken in ancient Scandinavia – in which it had the meaning of to grasp, clutch, grip, or to take hold of.

It’s vaguely reminiscent of the ancient meaning of intention – stretching out – that I covered in a previous article. With an intention, we stretch out to an aspiration; when we thrive, we are taking hold of it.

In some cases, back in Old Norse, thrive means ‘to take hold of oneself’. It’s this that I would suggest we do: take hold of ourselves, own our intentions, and grow, develop, and change well.

As I outlined in a previous article on consistency, we don’t need to struggle or persevere through change. Instead, by taking hold of ourselves and of the change we seek to make, we can thrive in transformation.

Taking Hold of Ourselves.

Too many self-development guides put too much stress on the pain, the discomfort, of change. Change is painted as an arduous journey, as an inevitable struggle.

We need to change this paradigm. The more we say that change walks hand in hand with pain, the less people are going to seek to change, or to be willing to change. The more people are going to refuse to engage in change for fear of struggle.

How many times, in a meeting at work, have you broached the topic of change, only to be met with discomfort or dismissal? This is only due to the image of change that posits it as something painful – and therefore scary.

Alternatively, by seeking to take hold of our change – and by working to thrive in change – we can transform this conception. We need to, because fear of change is holding too many people back.

The Consistency Methodology.

As I have outlined before, I want to present a new image of change – a methodology of consistency that stands as an alternative to struggle. A methodology that favours thriving over persevering. A methodology that begins with your intention.

We’ve defined this intention before as a total aspirational vision, a clear image of your life’s motivations and goals. A clear objective. Yet many people find this intimidating, overwhelming; they find themselves unable to implement it consistently in its entirety.

And this is understandable. Change can feel like pushing a heavy rock up a hill. It can be frustrating and exhausting, and, at any moment of weakness, the rock can fall back to the bottom. Consequently, consistency here is almost impossible. The task is too tiring, the rock too heavy, and any progress is difficult to see.

Yet, the key to consistency is to break the rock up into tiny, lightweight pieces – pieces of which you can take hold. Each piece – each micro-goal in your intention – can be carried up manageably, nimbly, quickly. Each time you reach the summit, you know you’ve achieved. Every consistently repeated route becomes easier, as you learn the terrain, you start to flourish in your own environment.

Change here becomes normal. Change here becomes a place in which you can thrive. This is consistency.

Thriving in Change.

By breaking your intention into smaller parts, you can begin to consolidate them into your life one by one. By focusing on each change, one at a time, you can consistently apply yourself to that change. You can consolidate, as a habit, each new behaviour.

In doing this, you consolidate change as the new normal. You take hold of change as an environment in which you thrive. As such, change ceases to be daunting or arduous, but becomes habitual and familiar.

Whilst the self-development industry is dominated by the strife of change, the most successful change-makers are those that learn to thrive in this terrain. The best leaders are those who don’t accept pain as a struggle. Instead, they are open, dynamic, and agile.

The trouble is that no-one can foresee the changes coming their way, the changes that are forced upon them – both at home and in business. Rather, life is, in the words of Simon Sinek, an ‘infinite game’, in which we don’t know what lurks around the corner; change will come at us whether we like it or not.

The only way to manage this is to learn to thrive in a changing landscape. To take hold of ourselves, our changes and flourish.

How to Manage Change with Ease? Action Points.

  • Be clear on your intention. Change stalls when you aren’t certain on where you are going. You can’t take hold of something that you can’t see.
  • Break every task down into its smallest possible component. Only then will your changes seem doable.

This article originally appeared in the Gen-i Blog.


  • Nicola MacPhail

    Change Expert, Author & Facilitator


    A consultant, writer and facilitator. Based in Cumbria I coach clients across the UK and internationally. I write extensively on ‘The HOW Skill Set’ in addition to offering workshops, training and consultancy. Born from a passion to help others ‘Make Change Happen’, I help people make effective implementation plans, be more productive and leverage habits to implement vital changes and thrive in life and work!