'Are We There Yet?!' = The Enemy of Positive Change

Process can be hard and it can be painful but more painful is our own judgment of it. When we rail against it and curse it and judge ourselves for not being stellar, it just makes matters worse.
10/22/2014 04:45pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Surrendering to a process is hard for a lot of people. 2014-10-22-arewethereyet6.jpg

"What's the outcome? What can I count on? Am I going to get what I want?"

These are the worries that derail process. They disrupt the flow and bring things to an abrupt stop like hitting the brakes on your car while in full 50-mile-an-hour motion. ABRUPT and JARRING to say the least. Dangerous too.

Whether the process is an experiment in a science lab, a rehearsal for a play, a career coaching engagement (three months minimum), or sitting in the chair for a haircut, the hoped-for result is hard to attain when you don't allow the process to unfold.

Are you conducting a job search and getting frustrated? Are you trying to find answers to what you should do with your life? Are you trying to lose weight to less-than-stellar results? Are you trying to write a book? Multitudes of activities that don't get finished instantly require surrendering to the process. What becomes difficult is staying consistent, open and present when the changes are not evident yet.

How to surrender to the process?

I recently worked with two women who were trying to find their next career move. They started working with me around the same time. One has quit in frustration and the other is having doors open and possibilities prevail. She has set a date for when she'll leave her current job and she's full of positive expectation.

The difference between them?

One surrendered to the process and the other put the brakes on every day to make sure she was not being cheated or tricked or sent barking up the wrong tree. She lived in distrust and fear -- distrust of me and the process and distrust in herself and her abilities. But mostly, distrust in the notion that good things could be awaiting her.

The first woman, who was getting results, took the plunge, did her homework, took the scary steps, kept her head down focusing on consistency, and not measuring results at every turn.

She is now very clear on what she needs to be happy in a career and is networking her way to her next opportunity. When she started, less than three months ago, she felt trapped without any clues as to where to go next or what to pursue. There were no possibilities at all. That's not the case now.

I think of surrendering to a process the way one would climb a mountain. I've never climbed one like Everest or Denali so let's stick to a steep hike up a New England ski mountain in the summer. You know you have a long way to go. If you keep looking up it's discouraging, but if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, taking in the view of how far you've come every now and then as you rest, you will make your destination.

If instead, you curse every step and keep looking up to the top (the finish line) it's easy to lose your balance and maybe even trip and fall. It's not that you can't ever look to the top or to where you are headed, but it has to be kept in a positive perspective as encouragement, not punishment.

Process can be hard and it can be painful but more painful is our own judgment of it.

When we rail against it and curse it and judge ourselves for not being stellar, it just makes matters worse. It takes a certain detachment to surrender to a process. The delicate balance of giving something your all but being able to hold off any judgment of how it's going is an art in itself. Oddly enough, it's absolutely necessary to get the best results.

Let's not forget the underlying enemy to it all -- loss. To change anything means to give up something. As much as we want a change, many cling to the pain they know because the familiar is less scary than the unknown. That results in never leaving the gate. Never putting your foot on the mountain. Never getting to the top in exchange for the safety of the bottom.

Keep walking. Keep stepping. You don't have to run. It's not a race. It's just change.

"Are we there yet?!" Are we where yet? You can still get there -- stop measuring and up the action. Head down, faith up!

Originally posted in the Now What?® Coaching Blog