There have been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long but now I think I’m able to carry on. It’s been a long, a long time coming but I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will.
Change. 25 years ago I was minding my business, graduating from high school, getting a part-time job, going to school and somehow I never stopped to think that everything I knew would be completely different just a few years later.
People I thought would be my lifelong friends found new, exciting and yet different paths than I was on. School changed the way I think. Marriage changed my identity. A career changed my course in life. Children changed my worldview. Age has changed my dreams. The changes are not all bad, gray hair and belly fat are not too great, admittedly, but I am healthy and comfortable and happy. Change has not done me in.
I think change gets a bad rap. Often people talk about how uncomfortable, painful, awful, icky, horrible change is. The thing is… It’s not the change that’s the problem. I think the transitions that compose change are what is difficult, uncomfortable, painful. Transitions are that period of time that I associate with growing pains. Remember growing pains? Those horrible, dull, throbbing pains that nothing really seemed to help. The pains that indicated that new heights would be achieved. We all love getting taller (change) but we would all just as soon avoid the growing pains (transitions).
Even when transitions aren’t painful, they take time. I am not a patient man. I do not like to wait. Sometimes all I really want is the change to happen. I don’t want to wait. I don’t want to struggle. Exercise… yeah, you know where I’m going with that… Losing that last 5 pounds takes… FOREVER… or so it would seem.
Transitions are the difficulty of change and I have a few things I’ve noticed help transitions go easier. First, mindset is key. If you let yourself be in a fixed mindset you will consciously and unconsciously fight change and ultimately extend the transition time. Mindset aimed at Growth (Thanks Carol Dweck) helps us embrace change and the difficult transition periods that occur when change happens. Dewitt Jones, national geographic photographer, says we should reshape problems into opportunities. I think that’s the mindset we need to adopt to best deal with transitions and change.
My other observation is that it is helpful to look for ways to promote change in the quickest way possible. If you start to feel like your job is not going so well, it might be a good idea to look for ways to begin transition on your own terms. Take a class. Network with people. Read the want ads… move in a direction that suits you, but don’t sit idly by and wait. Action is always better than reaction.
Finally, if you find yourself in a transition that is especially difficult, find someone you trust to support you. Share your story. loneliness breeds melancholy. A counselor or therapist may be just who you need to make sense of your transition. Sometimes a listening friend who has earned the right to hear your story can be a great help. Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong was a read that helped me think through this aspect of having trusted people in my life.
Change and the transitions that get us there are all gonna come. How we approach them can make all the difference.