Facilitating the Spread of Knowledge and Innovation in Professional Software Development

Write for InfoQ


Choose your language

InfoQ Homepage News Being an Agent of Change for Others and Yourself

Being an Agent of Change for Others and Yourself

This item in japanese

Everyone can be an agent of change, even with small contributions. You can also be an agent of change for yourself by focusing on what you can control. Knowing why to change matters, and exploring it you may find out that it’s not the time yet to make a change.

Hilary Weaver gave a keynote about embracing change at the Romanian Testing Conference 2023.

You don’t have to be doing huge things to make changes, Weaver said. You can make small contributions to the world (volunteering, teaching kids to code, etc) that can ultimately have a huge effect, she explained:

I didn’t think I was being an agent of change when I started my meetup group (Motor City Software Testers), but I realized I had helped create opportunities for people with the group, and that can change lives.

Weaver mentioned that you can also be an agent of change for yourself. Changes that happen to you can be anything from very easy to the worst thing you could ever imagine. Weaver found that, even with incredibly difficult changes like the death of a close loved one, she needed to embrace the change. Sit with how she felt about it, but know that focusing on things like "what if"’s is useless and causes more trouble and pain:

I focus on what I can control (even if it’s just making sure I eat), and use my support network. The testing community is such an incredible group of people and I’ve always felt supported when I needed it

When we make, or want to make, a change, we have a reason for that change. Especially for longer term changes, we should find our "why", Weaver argued. Your "why" is the deep-in-your-heart reason you want to make this change.

When we feel not-quite-right about something, Weaver suggested doing a pros and cons list of keeping things as they are - what would life be like if she didn’t change anything, and what would it be like if she did make this change? Maybe from this, we can determine it’s not quite time yet.

InfoQ interviewed Hilary Weaver about embracing change.

InfoQ: What’s your approach to enacting change?

Hilary Weaver: It’s a multi-step process: you need to determine what you want to change, why you want to make the change, when to change it, and then determine how you’ll make the change. Each of these steps requires some introspection and self-reflection, and some outside support. Change can be simple, but it’s often not easy!

InfoQ: How can we know that it’s time to make a change?

Weaver: As humans, we’re pretty resilient and can deal with a lot, and sometimes don’t feel like we deserve to be happy or fulfilled! To help with this, I’ll create a "red flags" list - specific scenarios that will tell me it’s really time to make the change. And I’ll share this list with a trusted friend or my therapist, to make sure I’m accountable but also I don’t just continue in a bad situation.

InfoQ: What’s the difference between shorter term changes and longer term changes?

Weaver: Shorter term changes you kind of "just do" - such as quitting your job. Longer term changes, however, require consistent small changes over time - such as gaining a new skill so that you can get a better job in the future. Building habits that incorporate those smaller changes, which are sustainable for the time it takes to make that change.

Focusing on consistency and removing choice really helps me with these - for instance, I walk at least 1 mile (1.6km) every day. No matter the weather, there is no choice for me - if it’s raining, that just changes what I’m wearing for the walk, not whether or not I’ll walk.

InfoQ: What can we do when change gets difficult?

Weaver: Your "why" will help you through when motivation isn’t there.

For instance, if my "why" to walk every day was to be healthier, that’s not going to stand up to days when motivation is low. My "why" is to increase my endurance to keep up with my nieces and nephew, and to not take movement for granted.

So when change gets difficult, we can remember our "why" and focus on the feeling we have at the root of us when we think of it. We can also modify rather than quitting altogether - if it’s too difficult, we can still continue but not do as much. Maybe our initial small changes weren’t small enough - that’s ok! It’s not failure to learn, as long as you continue.

About the Author

Rate this Article