Thursday, April 14, 2011

Surviving the change roller coaster

So your life as you've known it has changed. No matter how much you wish you could hide it, you're pretty much losing your mind. What you're doing, how you're feeling, what you're used to - your emotions seem to shift day to day.

No matter how prepared or how focused you are, change can be a difficult thing. It can wrestle you out of our body make you feel broken and bruised. So what can you do to address it? What can you do to find peace?

1. Take a deep breath and relax. Take a moment to revive and reflect. Go for a walk. Give yourself time to acknowledge. One phase in your life has now ended; a new one is about to begin.

2. Set a new goal every day. It doesn't have to be big, but make it something that's of meaning to you - something that you can be proud of. Maybe it's reaching out to a friend. Maybe it's trying to get out of the house. Maybe it's making a brand new connection. Whatever it is, do your best to follow through with it. Then celebrate at the end of the day.

3. Stay connected. Spend time with your family and friends. Reach out for support and encouragement. Register at Find an online or in-person support group. There's a ton of them out there: recent divorce, career transition, retirement, the transition from illness to health, etc. This is a great way to keep yourself positive.

4. Choose a "weapon"/personal outlet. If you haven't read it already, I highly recommend the book, "A Choice of Weapons", by Gordon Parks. Coming from a life of poverty, drugs and corruption, he was up against just about everything. His father had died. His vision was clouded. But he was able to find his own outlet. Through photography he found a new clarity. His camera had become like a weapon. It not only reshaped the course of his life but inspired generations to come. Think about what your weapon could be. Maybe it's drawing, or writing, or singing. Maybe it's yoga, or boxing, or karate. Maybe it's lunch every Thursday with friends. Whatever gives you your own special outlet - whatever soothes you when the going gets tough.

5. Get rid of the clutter around you. Whether the change is good or bad, it can still throw quite a few things out of whack. Try to keep your surrounding in order. Clear out things you don't need any more. With simplicity comes a new sense of clarity.

6. Find someone that can help you make progress. Maybe you're starting a business. Maybe for the first time you're out on your own. No matter what it is, it helps to have someone to talk to. As a coach, this is something I face every day. People need to feel heard without judgment. They need to feel empowered and safe. They need encouragement and support moving forward. This is the environment I strive to create.

7. Smile until you feel it inside. Try it. Just take a moment - even a second - to smile. Smile until your face hurts. Make a crazy silly face in the mirror. Let out a laugh now and then. You'd be surprised about how suddenly your perspective can change.

8. Create some new habits and rituals. Change will often throw things out of order, but that isn't always bad. You now have a chance to create a new balance. You can choose what to add and remove from your life.

9. Focus on the positive. Think of your life as a coin. They'll be good and bad. Happy and sad. Flip your challenges into solutions. Try building it into your language. Instead of saying 'I have to' recognize that it is a choice. Some of our choices aren't easy, but we do what we've decided to do. If a choice is particularly difficult, find a way that you can release - a hobby, a walk, close connections - whatever you need to put life in perspective.

10. Learn how to toot your own horn. Congratulate yourself every day. Post the progress you're making on Facebook. Buy some flowers to put by your bedside. Create new ways to bring light to your day! It may feel silly at first, but if you can manage to be your worst critic, you can learn how to be your own fan.

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