You are going back to work after maternity leave or moving to a new city. Your spouse just started a new job or you recently experienced a death in the family.
It's all a change -- we may frame it as good (new baby) or bad (missed out on that promotion) but at its essence, each of these experiences is a change or series of changes.
We've been through changes a million and one times, but it still doesn't feel simple.
With every change we find ourselves gripping the bar ahead of us on the roller coaster of life. What will be at the top of this hill? Will I make it over and around, upside down and finally to the end without throwing up or giving up? It's as if each time we buckle up and leave the station, we forget how many times we have ridden that exact same roller coaster.
Instead, it feels like the first time, every time.
We forget the long list of changes we have already successfully navigated. And we forget all the tools and strategies we created along the way to help us with those changes. Sure, each change has a different set of circumstances, but the essence is the same and our tool box is there for us if we can remember to take it with us. But so often, we ride the coaster with a bad case of déjà vu, forgetting that we are already roller coaster experts.
Change touches every aspect of our lives -- but parenthood offers us the most glaring and poignant examples of consistent and frequent change.
Parenthood is where we begin to add tools to our toolbox on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. When you first have a baby, you are thrown into a world in which you are awake every two hours (or less.) Suddenly you are up at 3:38 in the morning on a regular basis -- and not because you are arriving home bleary eyed from a night of kicking up your heels. No, you are there because someone needs you to be there -- and you adjust to that change like a champ.
And then it changes again.
There's more sleep in this phase but who knew there could be so many diapers? And just as you are wishing the "diaper phase" would pass, it's over -- replaced by the "nightmare," "no," and "carry me everywhere" phases. But you are a change ninja -- deftly navigating your changing child as she karate chops her way through life.
So the next time you find yourself in line for the roller coaster, make sure you bring your tool box. Dig around in there and utilize those great tools.
Coach Me Quick Tips for Adapting to Change:
1. Identify a recent life change.
Maybe it was marriage or the birth of your child. Maybe you earned a big promotion or got fired. It doesn't matter whether it lives in the realm of "good" or "bad." Change is change.
2. Take a moment and write down the feelings associated with that change.
Try not to edit as you write. Notice the ways in which you worked through those feelings. In other words, if you were scared, what eventually changed that alleviated that fear or allowed the fear to dissipate?
3. Now consider a change you are currently going through.
What are the feelings? Do any of them match the feelings you had before? Can you take what you learned and apply it to today's challenge? For example, if you were feeling hopeless and you remember that talking with a particular friend helped or simply getting a bit more sleep - made it better, how can you apply that to today's hopelessness?
4. Looking back on that life change, what was a resource that you used to work through the change?
Maybe you hired some help or went to the gym more often? Perhaps you got a monthly massage or took up meditation? Maybe you changed your expectations of yourself and others?
5. Now apply that to today's challenge. Can you utilize that resource again?
You're a change expert. Remember to dust off that tool box and break out those tools. And then, jump on the roller coaster and ride!