Today I am moving into a new home and it brings to mind all the ways in which we can begin new chapters in our lives. What they all have in common is, obviously, change.
Change can scare the crap out of you, particularly if you’ve been invested in a certain status for a prolonged period. I’ve changed a huge amount of my life in the last 3 years. I’ve changed the country I live in, then I changed the State, each time having to find new connections and to begin again. I’m not going to sugar coat it. I’ll come clean. I was an absolute resistant, tantrum-throwing jerk at times. But I learnt something really important that I think is worth sharing.
Change is a Habit
And like any habit, the more you do it the better you get at it. The only constant in life is change and so it makes sense to cultivate the habit and, beyond that, to go from habit to mastery.
How do you cultivate the habit of change? Things are usually about as difficult as we decide we’re going to allow them to be. Think about it. You can have the same two people in identical circumstances and they will experience those circumstances differently based on just one thing. That one thing is the choice they make as to how to respond to their circumstances.
It feels good to talk tough about change but in reality it can be overwhelming. Changes come in all shapes and sizes, some invited, some visited upon us unexpectedly, dramatically and most unwelcome. So it makes sense to do some preparatory work to make the choices easier when the time comes.
Shake Up Your Routine
It's nice and comforting, and obviously can be very efficient, to have great routines in place. It streamlines life to a degree so we can focus on the bigger decisions and conserve our energy resources. My father used to love his routines. He liked to leave the house at exactly the same time every morning for work, drive the same route and park in exactly the same spot in the underground garage. He explained that he liked to reduce the number of decisions he had to make every day so he could just focus on the big ones. It made sense to me at the time.
However, the downside is that, if taken too far, this practice can rob you of the richness of experiencing change in small manageable doses so as to build your "change response muscle". Why not take the different route or NOT order your usual dish in the restaurant, or sit somewhere different at lunch or whatever small change would be meaningful to you? How onerous or easy you find adopting this small change habit will be revealing.
If you're faced with a change practice asking yourself this:
What does this situation allow me to do?
Practicing asking yourself this question forces you to focus on opportunity rather than loss. It trains you to adapt quicker rather than wallowing. It serves you rather than allowing the circumstances to dictate how you will feel. You take ownership quicker and learn to lead yourself beyond the situation to a place where you can absorb the change but still move toward your long term goals.
Get out of your head!
Your experience of circumstances will be what you tell yourself it will be. So, if you allow the internal narrative to sprint away from your best interests and zero in on difficulty, obstacles and doom, it will. But that doesn't serve you, so why go there?
Train yourself to short circuit that narrative before it builds up any momentum. Often we're deep in it before we realize it and it's harder to lift ourselves out. So, we're in the realm of mindfulness here, you need to tune in more to your consciousness. You need to decide you, someone who wants the absolute best for yourself, are in the driver's seat. Audit your thoughts and when you first detect something that makes you question;
Does this thought serve me or hinder me?
Pause. Replace it with one that serves you. So, for example - You're in a job you dislike but it pays the bills. You want to leave and find something that really makes you feel fulfilled. When pondering that situation the following might come to mind;
I'll never get another job if I leave this one. I'm too old for a change at this point. I'm not even sure what else I could do. Everyone else seems to have worked out what they want. I'm made too many mistakes already. This is probably as good as I can get. People like me just don't get to do more than this. I'm not connected enough, smart enough..... etc.
Soo....Self-doubt ends up propelling you into an unending spiral where you question your self-worth and end up in the land of Not Good Enough. Ugh! No one wants to go there! So why do we?
Get out of your head when this kicks off. Right when self doubt emerges is when you need to intervene and replace the "I'll never get another job" trigger thought with something like,
"I'm a capable woman who's managed to find good work before. There's no reason I can't again."
That's a new trigger that will propel you in a different direction, one where you start to think about possibilities and opportunities and the talents and potential you possess. Sounds a lot more fun and energizing than the land of Not Good Enough.
It takes practice though but doesn't it sound worth it? Aren't you worth it? An emphatic YES is the answer to that!
So, next time change comes knocking on your door remember that you have a really important and empowering choice to make. You get to choose how you will respond. You are not a passive player in life. You are the light at the center of your life. Proceed accordingly!
About the Author
Eimear Zone is an entrepreneur and co-founder of feminist brand and social enterprise, PEBBLE + ROSE. She writes on feminism, entrepreneurship, and mindset management. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.