Change is constant, and navigating change is one of the most difficult things we do in life. When change strikes, what was once a mild lapping of the waves at the side of your life boat becomes a maelstrom. It can leave you feeling sick to your stomach and angry with yourself for inviting the change or not coping with it better than you thought.
The most important thing I’ve learned about navigating change is this: change is opportunity in disguise. When everything around you starts to change, it’s an invitation to seize new opportunities you might not otherwise have had. In the rush to get things back to “normal”, it’s easy to miss those opportunity or to brush them aside. Instead, don’t be afraid to slow down, take stock and think about as many possibilities as you can and challenge every assumption. Embrace the ambiguity and enjoy the journey (and I say this as someone who always has her eye on the destination).
The second most important thing I learned is this: be kind to yourself. You are your greatest resource in the midst of a change storm. Take naps, eat really good food, enjoy time with people, and treat yourself to little things. Go for long walks, and build in time to be with yourself or people who really make you feel amazing. Take control where you can, and design your change experience.
Here’s the last thing I learned about navigating change: it will happen again … and again … if you’re doing it right. Change is how we learn and improve. When I get too comfortable in a place, I get worried. I worry because I always want to get stronger. Change breaks us in big and small ways, and, as we heal, we get stronger in the broken places. So, change can be very good for us over the long term.
As the fall season approaches, and the leaves change, the kids head back to school, folks come back from vacations, and things kick into a new gear, I hope you’ll rip off change’s mask to see the opportunities, be kind to yourself, and embrace the chance to grow stronger.