10 ways to embrace a life change
A life change tends to be a conscious decision you make, to move an aspect of your life forward. However, sometimes the change is thrust upon an individual, they fall pregnant unexpectedly or are made redundant, out of the blue.
Generally speaking, however, the ‘life change’ is a big event. You move house, you start a new job, you relocate, you start a family. The magnitude of the change is still unknown but your new chapter has begun.
What do we know about the transition process?
The transition is what you experience before, during, and after the actual change occurs. It includes the thinking process, the discussions, affirming the decision, the realisation and the settling-in period. It can affect you physically, emotionally, psychologically and financially.
It happens over time, it generally cannot be rushed, it most likely will not go to plan and will certainly involve ‘ups and downs’. Can you see why then, unwanted emotions such as stress, anxiety and overwhelm might take over at times? So what can you do to give yourself the best chance to enjoy the transition process? What can you do to ensure you remain proactive and resourceful as you navigate through the process?
As you read through the common challenges below, ask yourself what emotional response these challenges could trigger in you and how might that impact you.
Common challenges during a transition
Uncertainty, ambiguity and unfamiliarity: The fear of the unknown and leaving your comfort zone can be daunting and create unrest. It can even make you go into the ‘fight or flight’ response, which is ‘survival mode’ metaphorically speaking.
Loss and grief: Even the most positive of transitions can involve a sense of loss, as you leave something behind. The obvious example here is moving home or for a child, leaving primary school and starting secondary.
Adjustment period: Time to adapt to a new role, new systems, new space.
Lack of control: You are reliant on external factors, and other people making decisions.
External pressure: Societal expectations, peer pressure, family obligations, cultural norms.
Multiple changes: Having complex changes all happening simultaneously.
I can relate to all of the above. Two years after becoming a mother, I changed career entirely, moved to another country and replaced city life with the countryside. I arrived in a place where I didn’t speak the language and the cultural norms felt completely at odds with mine. I found myself reacting to everything and everyone, I let everything control me and I felt frustrated, disempowered and completely isolated.
‘Hindsight is a wonderful thing but foresight is better’
Being able to look back and learn from any experience is an important process for personal growth (hindsight). Being able to anticipate a challenge and choosing your response will ensure you don’t become reactive to your situation and instead remain proactive (foresight).
A fantastic tool, I recommend using, to help clarify what is in your control and what isn’t, is to use the ‘Circle of Concern, Influence and Control’ model, developed by Stephen R Covey.
The outer ‘Circle of Concern’ are things that concern you but have no control over. There are obvious ones such as the weather, global economics, and other drivers but more subtle ones too, a friend's reaction, or someone else’s opinion. In the outer circle, there are things you care about but can’t change. If you focus your time and energy on reacting to things here, you will likely get more and more frustrated.
The inner ‘Circle of Control’ is what you control, what you wear, eat, exercise etc. The middle ‘Circle of Influence’ is where you want to focus your time and energy. This is where you can influence the outer circle, encourage change and decrease stress. It’s worth remembering that the ideal is to remain the best version of yourself, as you go through a life change. How can you do this? Let your resilience be your superpower.
10 ways to tap into your inner resilience and feel empowered
- Decide what 'support system’ you need to surround yourself with to not feel isolated. Seek out friends, family members, colleagues, resources and communities with whom you can lean on, share thoughts and challenges, and bounce ideas off.
- Write two lists, first, write everything that is in ‘your control’, which you can influence. Secondly, for everything that is ‘out of your control’, use Stephen Covey’s Circles of Concern and Influence ‘model. Decide that the ‘out of your control’ list is one you acknowledge but don’t focus your energy on.
- Foster a growth mindset, be open to change, willing to modify if necessary, and see failure as part of the learning process.
- Clarify what values you hold close to your heart and won’t compromise on. This can help to align your choices with what truly matters to you, it’s your compass.
- Remind yourself, what was your motivation to make this change, what were and are your aspirations?
- Set clear boundaries for yourself, time out, self-care, be able to say ‘NO’ to things or people, and make healthy choices.
- Mindfulness, stay present, remind yourself that change takes time, hurdles are part of the process, cultivate a positive mindset and clear your mind of clutter.
- Reflection, see challenges as new opportunities. Acknowledge what, who, and when are your triggers and avoid negative self-talk.
- Celebrate achievements and small wins along the way. Each success is a reminder of your why.
- Believe in yourself, your inner grit, your stubborn determination.
Anxiety, stress and overwhelm are common responses and can affect your wellbeing. To combat these unresourceful emotions and behaviours, do the following:
- Reflect on the challenge
- Recognise the trigger
- Acknowledge the emotion
- Choose your response
Do not underestimate your inner resilience, it is empowering and will support you to transform a challenge into a new opportunity and remain positive about your change.
‘Ease creates, urgency destroys’
Good luck and do share with me your thoughts and insights. YOU can do this!