When Change is Brewing on the Horizon
“And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” -Paulo Cohelo
Change usually comes in one of two ways: it is thrust upon us when we least expect it -OR- we seek it out because something inside us shifts.
Something inside us is begging to grow, to try something new, to break out of the comfort zone.
We often feel change coming the same way we sense a thunderstorm gathering on the horizon. We feel the slightest shift deep in our bones. Like a windstorm, change comes whipping around us and through us, daring us to keep our feet in one place yet willing us to be swept up and away.
Change, like gravity, can alter our trajectory in ways beyond our control.
This is a post for people considering making a change. I’m not sure if that Super Blue Blood Moon* had something to do with it, but it feels like many people in my life are considering making some big changes. I actually called Lady Ocalat to see if she could explain the astrological shifts going on right now. She did not return my call.
Many of you know I just made a fairly considerable life change. I made the extremely logical choice to leave a comfortable job in Duluth to pursue a job in St. Paul, three hours from my home, husband, and dog. While I was in the midst of the process I flew to NYC for work, came down with the influenza virus, and cried several hours a day. I decided to leave my former job on Valentine’s Day and went to the grocery store in full-on sob mode (snot, red nose, the whole deal) and bought one item- Kleenex.
Brace yourself. When in the eye of the storm it is normal to feel untethered, isolated, confused, and like a failure.
Today I’m on the other side of the decision to initiate change. I feel like myself again. I actually feel joyful. I remembered some fundamental things about who I am and the things that genuinely interest me. I am so happy I took the risk and made the change.
As a result, many of my conversations lately have been with friends and acquaintances that are also feeling like it may be time for a career move.** This post is about any positive change, but because it’s based on my personal experience, I use a career change as the most common example. If you are considering buying a new home, expanding your family, selling your home, implementing a daily flossing routine, ditching the meat habit, working toward a healthier lifestyle, etc… just swap out the career specific examples with scenarios that apply to you.
Let’s get started. This will be an interactive blog with writing prompts for you to try out in your own time.
15 tools to help you work through SHIFT
1. Remind yourself that change doesn’t happen overnight.
Try to be patient. It may be helpful to jot down a timeline with reasonable expectations for your change. For example, “I will apply to X amount of jobs in the next three months,” or “I will save X amount of dollars each paycheck to help prepare me for any expenses associated with this change.”
2. Set short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals.
Short-term goal examples: updating your resume, updating LinkedIn, requesting informational interviews, and setting up a lunch date with a trusted mentor.
Medium-term goal examples: seek out networking opportunities, brush up your skills with some training, and research alternative career opportunities.
Long-term goal examples & activity: Your long-term goal is rather obvious- new job! However, while you are in the growth mindset, consider setting some other long-term goals.
Journal Prompt: One activity I found really useful was developing three reasonable scenarios for what I would like my life to look like in three to five years. This really helped me see things with more clarity and perspective. When we feel stuck, we tend to focus on the short-term and lose sight of the bigger picture. This activity may help you reconnect with the things you are truly passionate about. Do you want to expand your family? Do you want to move to a new home? Do you want to launch your own business? Before you do this activity, ask yourself a few questions: What am I good at? What do I enjoy? What am I interested in? What skills am I interested in learning? What does meaningful work mean to me?
3. Read the Alchemist.
This is a great book for anyone debating making a big change or living through a time of change.
4. Plan for your change.
Some change is gradual, like working toward a healthier lifestyle or family planning. Some change can be jarring and fast like accepting a new job, moving to a new city, or buying a new house. Whatever change you are planning, be honest with yourself and your family about how the change is going to look. Jot down a timeline for the change and anticipate things that will need to happen to ease the transition of the change.
5. Honor your current situation (and your work).
When we feel that change storm brewing, our current situation can begin to feel unbearable. Try to pump the breaks and remind yourself of the good things about your current situation.
When it comes to work specifically, try to honor your work and your coworkers. Acknowledge the good things about your job and the opportunities it has provided. If you are not leaving your current career, mindfully practicing gratitude for your role may be a good way to keep you in a positive headspace. “I am thankful for my paycheck that allows me to put food on the table.”
6. The grass is not always greener.
Change can be good but keep your expectations in check. It’s called “going to work” not “going to fun.”
7. While you are working through a change, you may feel a bit out-of-control and untethered.
This is normal. You are doing a good job. You are in the midst of change. Embrace the chaos. Enjoy the fun of not knowing exactly what is going to happen next and hold on tight.
8. Change one thing at a time.
It is tempting to make multiple life changes at once (new husband, new house, new baby!) or (new job, new city, new house!) Resist the temptation to make multiple large life changes at once. Allow yourself time between each change so you have time to fully adjust and reflect on one change at a time.
9. Prioritize your goals.
You don’t need to change everything about your life tomorrow. If you are hoping to have a baby and purchase a house, prioritize which one of those two things you really want to happen first. If that is having a kiddo, then be okay waiting a year or two to move into a new space.
10. Keep a clear mind
When going through a difficult life change, it may be worthwhile to avoid alcohol so that you are working through difficult decisions with a clear mind.
Meditation and journaling can be helpful tools to keep a calm mind during a period of upheaval. Have some conversations with yourself in your journal about the process, how you are feeling and how the transition is going. If you don’t enjoy traditional meditation, experiment with other forms of meditation like forest bathing, painting, coloring, or journaling.
FYI: my husband asked me to clarify the term forest bathing. Forest bathing is not in fact rubbing oneself with twigs and leaves in the nude, but rather a form of meditation in the great outdoors. Read more on forest bathing from Duluth author Sarah Seidelmann.
12. Save some cash
Change often involves expenses: new home, new baby, moving expenses, a missed paycheck if you take time off between gigs, or leaving a traditional salary to join the world of self-employment all come with a price tag. Even if you are living paycheck to paycheck, there are likely ways you can save some extra cash. This is a good topic for another post altogether, but take a good look at where you are spending money and find some simple things to cut out. Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Spotify are all examples of subscriptions most of us can live without for a few months. Do you buy coffee daily or eat out several times per week? My friend once told me that his best advice is, “save ‘til it hurts.” It has always stuck with me.
13. Move your body
Things are going to be largely out of your control for a while. One thing you can control is how you are taking care of your body. Fuel your body with good foods and move each day. One of our retreat guests, local librarian extraordinaire Leslie Mehle, wrote “all movement is good movement” and I’ve loved that phrase since. A walk or a ten minute yoga practice count!
14. Lean on friends and family for support
Let your friends know if and how they can support you. Be open and honest about your needs. It’s okay to ask for help on occasion. (Can you take a look at my resume? Could we do a practice interview? Do you know anyone that would be a good person to connect with for an informational interview? Can you watch the kids one evening per month so I can use that time to focus on my career development?)
15. Trust your intuition
Trust yourself. It will be tempting to ask everyone for advice. Your friends and family are there to support you but ultimately the only person that can navigate this change is you.You know yourself better than anyone. You are better equipped to navigate this change than anyone else in the whole world. Know your strengths and your weaknesses. Be candid with yourself about how things are going, what you need help with, and how you are going to continue to move forward.
YOU. GOT. THIS.
Bonus journal prompts:
Career Change Specific Journal Prompt: Can you set some boundaries for yourself to separate your work life from your personal life? This includes bringing stress from work home with you, not just the work itself.
Career Change Specific Journal Prompt: Are there things that happen at work on a regular basis that make you feel uncomfortable or unhappy? (office gossip, being asked to do work that is outside your job responsibility, feeling taken advantage of, feeling bored)
If you are not being mentored or coached in a way that is allowing you to grow professionally, ask your boss for additional coaching.
If you are being asked to do an unsustainable amount of work, have a frank conversation with your manager about the situation and work together to devise some strategies to ease your workload.
If you are feeling bored or unchallenged, have an open conversation with your manager about the issue. It’s likely he or she has more work they will give you. Ask for special projects, seek out training, solicit collaboration opportunities with other departments, and find ways to make your work more creative and interesting.
If there are behaviors at work that make you uncomfortable or unhappy, it may be time to address these issues. Honesty is often difficult. Honesty is also a great healer. People are likely to hear your concern if you kindly state the behavior that is making you uncomfortable and ask for that behavior to stop.
Photography courtesy the incredible Bailey Aro Photography.
*Does anyone else remember a time before the lunar craze? I spent at least 29 years of my 31 years on planet earth without ever hearing the phrase “super moon.” Now it seems as though every four months there is some special lunar event. I understand that these events have been happening for millennia and some people (scientists) cared, but for the most part we all just carried on with our lives and occasionally pointed skyward to admire a full moon. Don’t get me wrong, I’m into it. I am all about jumping on the lunar bandwagon.
**I’m just sayin, it’s not a bad time to consider a career change or switch. According to the Minnesota office of Employment & Economic Development (DEED), unemployment in Minnesota is at its lowest point in 17 years. There are actually fewer unemployed job seekers than open positions in the state.