Recently, I had the privilege of helping a coaching buddy lead a workshop on transitions. All of the participants in the workshop were accomplished, smart and ambitious people. The majority of them were questioning their next step. What mountain needed to be scaled? What path would be the right one?
In that room, I was reminded of how messy changes can be and sometimes how long it takes to figure it all out. That’s the challenge of dealing with major life events. Some imposed by the world outside like being laid off or finding yourself with an empty nest. Or sometimes it is self-imposed.
Last spring, I made the decision to sell my beautiful house overlooking the ocean. It’s a lovely spot – very peaceful, natural and filled with beauty. So why move, you might ask? Good question. I realized long ago that I ignore those inner voices that say “it’s time to go” at my peril and those voices were speaking to me last spring. What began as murmuring took shape into action. Everything happened quickly. The house sold to my neighbours with no fuss or muss. Everything seemed simple, except for me knowing what my next step will be.
As an old journalist, I love deadlines. In fact, I love them so much I impose them on myself for everything. Ten minutes to clean my desk or in this case, I gave myself until the end of August to choose a course of action of being cast out and set adrift. It’s the scariest time when we lose our identities or our way of being. Sometimes, we fight to maintain that identity or love or job, but we know in our hearts that the end or a “death” has come to our old way of being.
Here are a couple of tips to help you cope with that first phase of change.
- Allow yourself to grieve. In our society, there’s little time or attention given to the stages you need to go through to pass through this transition. Some people jump immediately into a something new – ever heard of a rebound romance or jumping from the frying pan into the fire? So it is crucial, in this first phase of change that you feel the loss of whatever situation or identity you are exiting.
- Know that being lost is just right. As painful as it may be accepting the confusion of what to do next or fears about ending up a bag lady or loveless for the rest of your life are just part of the puzzle. Reflect on changes you’ve made in the past and trust you can make a successful move when you are ready.
- Cut yourself some slack. Rather than beating yourself up for not having it all figured out, enjoy the roller coast of the experience. Easier said than done you say. So treat yourself well. Take walks in nature, or go to yoga or have coffee with friends. Do something that nurtures you as you grapple with whatever is in your future.
I’ll go through the next 3 stages of reaching the Promised Land of fulfillment as I go through them.