Updated: Sep 29, 2020
"We're going on a bear hunt.
We're going to catch a big one.
What a beautiful day!
We're not scared.
Oh-oh! A forest!
A big, dark forest.
We can't go over it.
We can't go under it.
We've go to go though it!"
Anyone recognize the above excerpt from the beloved children's story, We're Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen? It's verse reminds me of change. When you first decide to embark on a new adventure it's exhilarating, fun, full of exciting possibilities. Then you begin the journey and change starts coming at you in ways you weren't quite prepared for. So you put your problem solving skills to work, "we can't go over it, can't go under it, oh-no, we've got to go through it!" And that is where the real adventure begins!
For the past month or so I have been on a real life adventure, full of change. Change of address. Change of business location. Change in my day to day routine. Change in relationships. Changing goals. Changes all ranging from big to small. And let me tell you, change is hard.
Change can stir emotions of self doubt, anxiety, fear, sadness, frustration, disappointment and more....yet at the same time change can offer feelings of excitement, happiness, gratitude, hope, inspiration and amusement. One thing is for sure, whether the change you face is positive or negative, change will bring challenge. Why? Because change takes us out of our comfort zone, tests our resolves, asks us to stretch outside perceived limits, invites us to try new things and experience new feelings, and it calls upon our mental, physical and spiritual resources.
Action Changes Things. If you asked me what I think of when I hear the word "change" I would answer "adventure, excitement and the opportunity to hone strengths and problem solve!" But let's get real a moment. That's not always how change actually feels. Sometimes change feels like a struggle, like something I really don't want to manage and a problem better left for a rainy day. That is because (like many of us) I enjoy change on my own terms. Controllable change. A bit of an oxymoron isn't it? While you might be able to plan and prepare for many types of change - getting married, having a baby, moving into a new home, starting a new job, working toward a new goal - all the feelings, experiences and challenges that result from change are not so easy to prepare for. That is because every act has the ability to change things. Yes, even when change is planned, we can't truly see all that might be coming with it.
Learning the hard way. So a little over a month ago I decided to embark on some pretty big changes. I sold my home, moved my business, took a big step in my relationship and leaps of faith to further my dreams and goals. When I first set out I embraced each of these changes as a positive step forward in my personal and professional growth. As I charted a course for these changes I was excited, happy, anxious, curious, inspired, motivated - lots of wonderful feelings and emotions ensued. Sure I felt a little scared and unsure (as most anyone would), but overall I was pretty confident I could manage the load. However, as the wheels of change sprung into motion and the momentum took hold, I quickly realized I was not fully prepared. I wasn't ready for the instability, fear, disappointment, frustration and sometimes listlessness all this change could bring. I found the day to day roller coaster of emotions draining. I wondered why in the past change felt like a great challenge, an opportunity to problem solve, or a friendly competition to overcome the odds, yet this time it felt downright defeating. Then one day it hit me. I was not tackling one change, but multiple changes all at once (over achiever anyone?) and I started to realize that within all the change I had lost my safe haven, my foundation of comfort, a sense of predictability and stability. All that was familiar had been removed and I was reaching for things that simply were no longer available to me - I had not just dipped my toe in the water, but dove right in! As a true A-type overachiever I had set the bar pretty high and the reality was those expectations were not being met.
So what now? Well, some pretty interesting things happens when undergoing some major life changes. The flight or fight response is triggered. The mirror shines on your weaknesses as much as strengths. You find yourself stressing more and enjoying less, and you begin to realize how truly vulnerable you are. Sounds dreadfully awful doesn't it? The good news is some pretty great things can happen too. You become humbled by the power of the mind. You are reminded to be grateful for the little things. You appreciate resolves. You recognize personal limits. You realize you do have choices - will you live in the problem or seek out solutions?
The "A-ha!" moment. Just as Socrates said, "focus all of your energy not into fighting the old but on building the new." I started to realize I wasn't going to get where I wanted to go without putting my energy in the present and future. I had to see the possibilities of what could come as a gift, choose a positive mindset and allow for things to unfold naturally. In short had to create a new "normal" to love. Hoping and wishing, whining and crying, even kicking and screaming wasn't going to make it happen. I had to make it happen by letting go of the past and appreciating the now. Once I accepted this was my new reality things became much easier and the choices became clearer. While there were many things I was not in control of, I was in control of my attitude and perspective. The minute I started to readjust my expectations and allow for a bit of grace I was able to accept where I was and appreciate it. Instead of missing the comfort of where I had been, I began to get excited about where I was and where I could go. And that left my mind, body and spirit free to experience the joy in change!
Change teaches us...
Sometimes the things you are most resistant to can actually wind up being best for you
You can't focus on building something new while holding on to the old
Every action has a reaction
It's okay to hit the pause (or stop) button to reassess, reroute and redirect
Be willing to ask for help and receive it
Routine is a wonderful thing, however being stuck in a rut does not allow you to move forward
Sometimes you have to get uncomfortable to find comfort again
When plan A doesn't work, try B, C, D, E....go as far down that alphabet as you need to in order to make it happen!
People will be there for you if you let them
Wisdom, laughter, joy, love and friendship can come from surprising and unexpected places
Everything. Is. Temporary
I am a work in progress. A little over a month into change now, I have a new normal - and I rather like it. I have a new gym "home," a new location to conduct business and am meeting lots of new people. I am enjoying the trails just a few steps from my front door, the simple pleasure of being able to walk to coffee, dinner, drinks and more, and the serenity of a quiet and peaceful environment. I have come to appreciate the moments of breathe and reflection. Yes it took trials, tribulations, sacrifices, stumbles, relentless effort and a burning desire - but I can honestly say it was worth it. Because success is an achievement, not an end point. I have chosen to be a work in progress and embrace change! While from time to time change may challenge, drain, frustrate and perplex me, the gift of possibilities, opportunities, new experiences and happiness it can bring are all worth the risk.