ACL – 3 ways of dealing with problems

I’m sure you’ve all come across situations during your work life where the situation you are in is difficult and a solution seems hard to find; I know I have.

Many years ago earlier in my career I was faced with a problem which was causing me sleepless nights and difficulty facing being in the office day to day.  It took a while to come through the situation, but in the end looking back at it there were 3 steps, certainly not simple and takes a lot of thought process in getting there.  These steps are;

·       Accept

·       Change

·       Leave


With the overriding phrase “If you can’t accept it, change it.  If you can’t change it, leave it.

Breaking this down further;

If you can’t accept it, change it.

Firstly understand whether it is possible to accept the situation you are in;

  • How bad is it really?
  • What are the underlying causes of the situation you face?
  • In the wider scheme of life / work balance does it really matter?

There are many more questions here, but if you reach the decision that you cannot accept the situation then attempt to change it.

This is something I did, after a number of weeks sole searching it was clear to me that the position I had been put in was unacceptable to me, from many viewpoints including moral and my own beliefs on fairness and what it right.  So I attempted to change the situation.

If you do decide to accept the situation, then do not keep looking back and letting it eat away at you.  You have made the decision based on the information you had and careful thought.  Do not keep dwelling on that decision and that situation.  It was in your control to accept or change, and you decided to accept, which was the right decision for you.  Move on.

Change it

Probably the hardest part, and you have to remember there are some things that are within your power to change and others that are not.  Decide which battles are worth fighting, i.e. what are the key things that you can influence and change, and then focus on them.

Put together a plan, work on what you want to achieve, identify who you need to work with and help you through the change.  Set a time line, but don’t be surprised if other people don’t want to join you on the change journey or become blockers – they all have their own ACL to work through.

For me this was the hardest part.  I wanted to change the situation, one that I felt was wrong not only for me but many others at work around me.  So I had to put aside friendships and push forward with trying to change the situation.

Despite strong attempts to change and many challenges along the way, the final outcome was clearly that change was not going to happen that suited my desired outcome, so I moved on to the next step in ACL – leave.


If you can’t change it, leave it

Before you do, remember to reflect on whether any changes you may have been able to achieve are sufficient for you to accept the situation.  Once you have finished reflecting, you have the basis of your decision to leave and move on.

Once you have left, don’t look back with regrets.  Remember you made the right decision based on the information you had at the time and therefore for you it was the right decision.

In my particular difficult case I moved on, without regret.  Yes I sometimes look back (many years later), but more from the point of what I have learnt and how I have grown and developed since.

So in summary, ACL – Accept it, Change it, Leave it – you are in control of your thoughts and decisions.  Make them and move on without regret, whatever decision you choose.