Today marks the first day of a major change for me at work. The head of our department has left the company and so, starting today, our group will take direction from a different person.
This is the fourth such change in four years.
Do you know what makes change so hard? It’s not what you think it is. It’s not the change itself, because change happens in an instant. It’s not in your control.
You had a job, now you don’t. You were part of a couple, now you’re single. You were expecting a baby, now you aren’t.
It’s not the change that is hard; it’s the transition you experience after the change has happened that is hard. Painful. Transformative.
It’s important to recognize the distinction between the change and the transition after the change. If you don’t, you’re doomed to fight the wrong thing, and that will only increase your pain and prolong your transition.
There’s no point in fighting a change that has occurred because doing so is as effective as crying over spilt milk.
What is effective is to fight your feelings about the transition that you must go through because the change has occurred.
The best way to fight your feelings is to surrender to them. It’s sounds wacky, but it is true.
Ever watch two dogs meet for the first time and start to fight? Often within just a few seconds one of them will roll on its back and reveal its tender neck to the other. That dog is signaling that he recognizes the superior position of the other dog and will not fight him. He has surrendered.
Once you acknowledge your feelings about the change and accept that those are your feelings, you have surrendered to them. You’re no longer fighting them; you’ve now able to start addressing them. Acknowledging them was your first step, accepting them as your feelings was your second, and addressing them is your third step forward in your transition from what was to what is.
Congratulations, whether you know it or not, you’re already three steps down your transition path. You have begun your transformation.
The challenge is that you have to navigate the transition without really knowing where you’re going or how you’re supposed to get there. You’re building the plane while flying the plane. You are creating the future, while living in the present, and mourning the loss of the past. No wonder you’re exhausted, you’re living three lives all at once.
Look Forward Not Backward
A wise person reminded me this weekend that there’s a reason the windshield is larger than the rearview mirror.
You need the rearview mirror because the past is what orients you. You need the windshield so that you can look ahead to the future that is in front of you.
No matter how great the past might have been, it will always be behind you. That’s why the promise of your future is always greater than the events of your past.
Have you ever heard people say they’re glad they went through a terrible time in their life? They admit that they sure didn’t like the way they felt at the time, but now, looking back, they realize they were transformed from who they were to who they are. They realize they grew through that time of transition. They learned things about themselves. They realize now, having come through the transition, they were stronger than they knew themselves to be.
Recognizing that truth about themselves, they feel transformed. They’re new people.
Your success in life is about more than getting what you want, or avoiding misfortune, or being lucky or getting a few good breaks. Your success in life is governed by how well you navigate life’s transitions and how you are transformed by them.
Life Is Honest, Open and True: Change is not the enemy you want it to be. The enemy is your own resistance to the transition that you must go through as a result of the change. When you eliminate your resistance by surrendering to it, you begin your transition from what was to what is, and prepare yourself for what will be. No matter how great your past, it is behind you and only the future is still in front of you.
Have you struggled with change? What was the hardest part for you? Tell me about it in the comments or tweet me @lifeishotblog with the hash tag #LifeIsHOT!
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