Navigating Change: How to Craft Your Own Experience

If there’s one thing that we have learned in the past few years, it’s that change is inevitable. 

As our workplaces evolve and adapt to respond to the new environment that we are operating in, the rate of change can be overwhelming. With many businesses testing hybrid work arrangements, new work rituals and technology rollouts, change is being imposed on us at a rate we have never experienced before. Both at work and at home. 

That is why we were thrilled to have Dr Meg Hooper join us in the Work Life Lounge, taking us through how we can take control to navigate change, especially in the work environment. As a registered psychologist with a PhD in Organisational Psychology, Dr Meg highlights the extensive change that is happening to us and what we can do to manage our own emotions and experience of change. Let’s get started.


How do you want to experience work?

The first question Dr Meg posed is how and what do we want work to look and feel like? There is no right or wrong answer – it will be unique to one’s own environment and personality. However, when we take the time to think about this, most of us will know what we want. But life happens – ultimately challenges get in the way of how we actually want to experience work.

To gain perspective on these challenges, it is important to hone in on what will make a difference to our experience of work. Dr Meg outlines a powerful tool that she uses regularly to unpack a challenge, looking at Circles of Control and Influence (all which have different strategies depending on the sphere). This includes:

  • OUTSIDE MY CONTROL – letting go and being comfortable with negative emotions.
  • WITHIN MY INFLUENCE – defined as our personal interface between the things we can and can’t control.
  • WITHIN MY CONTROL – this is where we have a direct impact on the situation at hand (decide and then I do).


What does work do to us?

To have a better understanding of our experience of change at work, Dr Meg highlighted the impact of work on our brains. As she outlines, professional roles are thinking roles that make use of short-term working memory, creating cognitive load and using energy (think of it as mental calories). In addition, there is what Dr Meg describes as ‘open loops’, which add to the mental strain (whether it be ideas, a new process or staffing issues). Typically, our brains don’t like to keep loops open for very long, but the challenge in professional roles is that we rarely get to close these loops. And the continual monitoring of these open loops adds to our cognitive load.

In today’s work environment, you also have the challenges of modern life that build upon the cognitive load and burn precious mental calories. This includes uncertainty, ambiguity, relationships with peers and direct reports, a company’s work culture, communication channels and family needs. This results in the constant monitoring of not only our open loops, but our environment and our responses, by regulating emotions to stay within the bounds of socially acceptable behaviour.

With all this happening, we hit a maximum cognitive capacity quickly. For some this could be a daily, weekly or monthly cap. The impact of reaching this means that the following can occur:

  • RELIEVE WORKING MEMORY – cognitive shortcuts or forgetting things that lead to mistakes at work.
  • REDUCE COGNITIVE LOAD – where we aim to reduce thinking, so patterns in work like bundling tasks together rather than switching between tasks may be implemented.
  • INCREASE CAPACITY – we may seek out sources of pleasant emotion.
  • KEEP ADDING LOAD – this results in mental and emotional fatigue and strain.


Three Key Strategies

However, the good news is there are some key strategies that we can implement in response to cognitive load. Dr Meg defines it as ‘job crafting’, which includes:

  1. TASK CRAFTING – changing up what we do and how we do it in our role. For example, batching tasks or time blocking in the calendar.
  2. RELATIONSHIP CRAFTING – changing who we interact with and how we interact at work. For example, this could be facilitating relationships that provide the support needed in response to a challenge.
  3. COGNITIVE CRAFTING – seeking to change our mindset for perspective in our jobs. This is putting the job in the context of our life and how we want to experience work.

The third strategy Cognitive Crafting is most essential to help us not only ‘cope’ but thrive in our work lives. Dr Meg refers to the Mental Health Continuum to make sense of this strategy. In the middle is ‘Coping’ (a moderate sense of health and wellbeing), while on either end of the scale is ‘Languishing’ (described as being unwell or discontent) and ‘Flourishing’ (where we thrive regardless of challenges or changes that occur). Naturally, it makes sense that we all want to move towards flourishing. This is where we build a healthy resilient response to the storms of life, because of the skills and resources we have actively sought. Dr Meg emphasises that she is not referring to mental toughness. Rather it is being active in equipping ourselves with the tools and skills we need to thrive in the workforce.


Toward Behaviours and Away Behaviours

There are several types of behaviours that we can take, which will either move us in the right direction or send us backwards into ‘languishing’. Dr Meg refers to this as a choice point, known as a place in time, where we decide what behaviour to take. When everything is going well, it is easier to do positive ‘towards’ behaviours. However, it is when we are under stress or pressure that we need strategies to avoid doing negative ‘away’ behaviours that risk becoming habitual. These two types of behaviours include:

Towards Behaviours: actions that move us “towards” our desired goals and values

  • Self-care
  • Care of others
  • Mindful action

Away Behaviours: actions that move us “away” from our desired goals and values

  • Self-soothing [a few too many glasses of red!]
  • Unthinking of others
  • Avoidant actions (to move away from discomfort and negative emotions)
  • Actions to distract


What skills and what resources do we have?

The key in all of this is to design a positive response to the choice point by actively setting ourselves up for success with the skills and resources we have built up over time.

Dr Meg confirms that authenticity is a core competency. This can be defined as knowing and holding onto personal values, deploying strengths and having a good level of emotional awareness and regulation.

Another important learnt skill is emotional agility, which enables us to unhook easily from an unhelpful emotion. There is a process of moving through an unhelpful emotion, starting with identifying the physical impacts of the emotion. This may look like anger in a meeting or frustration at a colleague who has missed a deadline. We can intervene in the physical reaction by grounding ourselves, whether that be deep breathing or taking a short walk outside. Secondly in the process, building emotional literacy is helpful to name and describe what we are feeling. We can then learn to accept unpleasant emotions and move on without being hooked by them.

Lastly, it is important to gain perspective by asking ourselves is what happened worth the response it provoked? These skills all help us to navigate change and overcome challenges positively.


In summary, although change is inevitable in both our work and home life, there are certain factors that we can influence in our sphere of control. It is our response to challenges (whether negative or positive) that shapes how we experience change. The key is to implement strategies known as ‘job crafting’ that help us to better manage our emotions and design how we want our work to be.


If you’d like to learn more about how you can navigate change at work and in life, you can watch the replay of the Masterclass in the Work Life Lounge and explore all the Lounge has to offer.

The Work Life Lounge is a membership space providing you with direct access to the best thought leaders on work and life. Every month, you’ll be delivered live masterclasses on the actionable steps you can take to redesign your work life in a way that suits you. In addition, be inspired and gain valuable knowledge from the exclusive Work Life Lounge Resource Library with all masterclasses, additional tools and downloads available. We can’t wait for you to join us in creating a work environment that truly aligns with your life.



Dr Meg is a registered psychologist with a PhD in Organisational Psychology. She has spent the last 18 years, in a mix of internal and external consulting roles prior to starting Carousel Consulting in 2014.

Meg has honed her skills as an Organisational Change Manager, working on changes of any size. Meg’s key areas of expertise are supporting organisations to do change well, helping individuals and teams create a strong identity and sense of purpose and more resilient patterns of behaviour, and supporting organisations to create powerful and positive cultures.



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