AMU Careers Careers & Learning Federal Lifestyle Military Online Learning Resource Spouses Veterans

Make Change Work for You

By Jackie Hott
Faculty Member at American Military  University

Do you embrace change or run from it? Make change work for you by having purpose, setting priorities, and designing a plan.

In graduate school, I realized that development occurs after some type of change whether it be positive or negative. That thought has accompanied me through the changes in my life. I feel safe knowing that, when faced with adversity, I will ultimately grow from the situation.

Certainly the type of change does impact how one will react and feel. “To thrive in life, we must be able to deal with change,” writes Laurie Maddalena. Regardless of how you react to change, it will occur, which is why it is important to have the tools needed in order to be successful.

There is change that happens to us and change that we instigate. Either way we have to make the experience work for us. How do we do that?

Making change work involves having a purpose, setting priorities, and designing a plan. I like to call this P3: purpose, priority, and plan


You have a home, family, career, and community that depend on you. Instead of choosing to ignore change, find your purpose and choose to take action.

Lynn Pace did just that. She is the wife of the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the military’s top ranking office. Pace spent years traveling the world with her husband and like many women had to deal with the daily adversities of being a wife and mother. During her 40 years of service to her family and country she found a purpose that allowed her to take action and move forward.

She helped countless service members and their families with various needs, visiting members in the hospital, finding ways to get supplies, opening doors for educational opportunities, and providing emotional support. Whether handling a move, a deployment, or other challenges that arose, she kept taking action and living a purpose filled life. She is an example of how choosing to find a purpose helps you capitalize on the alterations life presents.


Once you find a purpose, whether it is your family, career, volunteer work, or hobby, hold on to it! Make it a priority. When you evaluate your time and energy make sure that both align with your life priorities.

When change occurs, ask yourself how the change connects to your purpose and what actions you will need to take in order to keep your priorities straight.

Chelle Brewer was honored in 2008 as the first national Military Spouse of the Year. She is the wife of an injured soldier, a mother of a special needs child, and a volunteer in her community. Brewer also created an organization that sends care packages to deployed soldiers.

She is not a victim of change but a change agent. She took action through aligning her time and energy with her priorities. Her priorities in turn support her purpose filled life.


Planning is the glue that holds everything together, allowing you to take change head on. Set up a meeting, organize a committee, sign up for a class, call a friend, or construct your resume. Other tools for planning include: making a task list, creating a schedule, constructing a calendar, writing in a journal, goal setting, and connecting with people.

One or all of these tools can be used to take that first step you need to plan for a move, get a new job, try a new hobby, or manage a loss. As S. Steinberg writes in the book Make Change Work For You, “Change your outlook and you can change your future.”

The next time you are faced with change stand up to it! Evaluate how the change aligns with your purpose, connects to your priorities, and can be accomplished using your time management skills.

Remember that growth comes from discomfort. Making decisions that strengthen your P3 will give you the foundation to deal with anything that comes your way.

About the Author

Jackie Nicholas Hott received her Bachelor’s degree in Education/Communication from Mary Baldwin College in 1989 and a Master’s degree in Education from Virginia Tech in 1993 focusing on College Student Personnel with a strong interest in Women’s Studies. Jackie is an instructor with American Military University. She teaches the Foundations of Learning course. Before coming to AMU, she taught elementary school, was the director for a nonprofit and worked at Shenandoah University in student affairs.

Comments are closed.