The Transition Survival Kit

9 December, 2012

When we are experiencing a change in life, we can lose our way. What can we stay anchored to during these times to survive and thrive? Two things - make nothing at all about you and make absolutely everything about you.

As you know I have taken a break from full-time coaching and running a business to have a cycle as an employed person. I've ended up working for a large organisation in the public sector. This was a decision based on feeling I had hit somewhat of a 'glass ceiling' with my practice and how much I could achieve working alone. When I revisited my career values, leadership, teamwork and stability came right out on top. It was time to move towards a new phase in life.

I have been 4.5 months into my new role, at the same time having moved out of our inner-city apartment and into the coastal country. I have gone from walking down the stairs in the morning to my office of work, to commuting nearly 3 hours a day. I have gone from making decisions based on what's best for - at most - three invested parties at any one time, to making team decisions based on what's best for nearly 1200 people. I have gone from being accountable to, and responsible for, only myself, to being accountable to a chain of hierarchy above me. I have gone from communicating with certain networks of people who think in exactly the same way as me, to communicating with people who think very differently from me. I need not go into detail about what a transition this has been and continues to be.

And, I need not pretend either that I have found it easy. There are things that are awesome about having a boss, a team, heaps of professional development opportunities and someone else sorting out your income tax. And, being unable to apply my old map to find my way around this new place (it's often felt like I pull out my well-creased and trusty map of Rome, only to find myself in the middle of Tokyo. It took me more than one incident of getting lost to realise that the Rome map doesn't work in Tokyo and that I had better change maps rather quickly).

This lack of navigation ability has brought up personal issues that I believed were well in the past - crashes in self-confidence, sometimes overwhelming self-doubt and an inability to stop those little annoyances of the day eating their way through my brain and in to my evenings and weekend. You can imagine also, that being a super-duper life coach and NLP master, that the second arrow ("I shouldn't be struggling") has been even more difficult to bear.

So. I am learning.

And, for those going through some kind of transition in your own life, be it career related or something completely different, I have a couple of things to share that may be of assistance to you and inform some of your own survival toolkit. Here are two things to remember:

  1. Make nothing at all about you.
  2. Make absolutely everything about you.

1. Make nothing at all about you:

Being out of your comfort zone, in a new environment and in a steep learning curve is going to be hard. It being hard means that you are at your edge, which means you're learning. There may be many different things occurring that you're not used to, some of which you don't like. This doesn't mean that it's your fault, you're to blame, incompetent, or that you're not good enough, or that there is a problem that you need to solve. When you're tested, all of your old crap will rise to the surface and demand attention and healing. This isn't because you're faulty. This is because this is what brains do. So, it's not about you, really.

2. Make absolutely everything about you:

A difficult experience is an opportunity to learn. What's a reoccurring pattern coming up that you recognise? And what do you want to do about it? If you give up beause it's too hard and go back into comfort zone, it's a development opportunity lost. What do you need to do here to support yourself? What do YOU want to get out of this experience, what's in it for you? What's it teaching you? What are you determined to learn from this? Where can you go where everybody knows your name? Who can you spend time with that help you feel like the real 'you'?

Obviously, if it's an untenable environment you give it a maximum period of time and if it's not feeling better you make a decision to make a change. People say at least 6 months, don't they? When I lived in Japan I remember hating it for 6 months, and then a corner was turned and things got good. Be clear about what's realistic as a time measure; and be careful about bailing out too soon - there could be a breakthrough around the corner that could change the course of things forever.

As always, I am as keen as a bean to hear from you - I love to chat. Leave a comment here and tell me about your own experience and wisdom. I am learning, too...

With love, Charlotte.

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