Have you ever had the experience of setting out to make a positive change in your life, only to have it start an avalanche of changes that scares and overwhelms you?
A few of my clients have had this experience lately, and I've seen it a lot over the years.
Sometimes the avalanche of change is full of desirable things piggy-backing on the positive step you wanted to make in the first place. Other times, the avalanche is more saboteurial in nature, distracting you from where you really want to go. Both can derail you. Read on to find out how to keep it in check.
IS THIS YOU? THE HAPPY AVALANCHE
You've been miserable for a long time. You know you want to make a move, and even know what it is, but you are not sure how you would do it or what it would look like exactly . You take a chance, hire a coach, quickly get clear and start taking scary steps. Suddenly, everything you want and more than you could ever dream of starts to pour in -- miraculous coincidences, lucky moves, desires fulfilled! What to do?
Believe it or not, most people know to be grateful, but there is something very unsettling about the floodgates opening up. People start behaving like they're drowning. Overwhelmed, breathless, and the opportunities are forcing them to grow and make decisions at an alarming rate, somewhat in a panic. Often, this happens while simultaneously trying to complete the old job, task, or relationship you are letting go of.
ACTION ONE: Breathe!
Slow down the pace of change simply by relaxing into your body. Breathe more deeply, walk more slowly, take the time to answer thoughtfully. Don't get swept up in the wave.
ACTION TWO: Make peace with failure
If you're not perfect keeping up your old activities as you navigate the new, forgive yourself. Delegate what you can. Do what's most important, but let it be OK if something falls through the cracks. That goes for the new adventure too. Certainly, striking while the iron is hot is important but know that you are learning and that there will be unexpected turns. Forgive yourself.
ACTION THREE: Stop being a lone ranger
Change is hard. You don't have to do it alone. Sometimes it comes so fast, we don't feel we have time to reach out, but reach out you must. A mentor in your new chosen endeavor, friends who can just listen or help, or even a hired assistant to temporarily do some grocery shopping, chores, errands or child wrangling if possible. If you're working with a coach, use them well during the avalanche.
IS THIS YOU? THE SABOTEUR AVALANCHE
You've been ready to explode for a long time, or maybe you've gotten sick of hearing yourself complain, so you hired a coach and got going trying to forge new directions. Clarity starts to come because you start admitting to yourself out loud what you really want for yourself. You work hard to start moving in that direction, thwarting old habits and traps, things start looking hopeful and then BAM! small disasters start happening. You catch a flu bug, someone dear passes away, your job gets more demanding leaving no time for yourself and you're a victim of identity theft. Yeah, it's not OR it's AND. The saboteur avalanche doesn't mess around. It's usually not just ONE thing that gets in the way. What do you do?
I do find that people who have been holding off doing what they know they need to do for many years, tend to have the nastier avalanche. However, it's important not to blame yourself. CHAOS is how the world reorganizes itself. And it happens. You did not DO anything to bring this on. The test is not whether you caused it, but rather, how you deal with it.
ACTION ONE: Breathe (funny -- the same for both types)
Slow your breath to get a grip on the changes.
ACTION TWO: Don't take it personally
Stuff happens. Don't let it erode your sense of self. Watch how you talk to yourself in your head. Stop blaming yourself or thinking disparaging things. Do whatever you can to not ADD to the DRAMA. As you talk to others and as you deal with the losses or changes, try to remain neutral. If you editorialize and over-dramatize, you add fuel to the fire by whacking out your adrenal glands and making your body remain in the stressed state too long -- tough for getting your wits about you and persevering.
ACTION THREE: DO NOT give up
Too many times, I see people give up. Like being in the Indy 500 and just pulling over to quit, you're more likely to get seriously hurt. Yes, timing is a factor and sometimes it pays to wait, but when the nasty avalanche happens, it's not a sign that you were NOT meant to have what you want or that you were heading in the wrong direction. It is just a BIG nasty test to see how badly you want what you say you want.
DO NOT GIVE UP. NO matter which kind of avalanche shows up, do one small thing a day (or at least a few times a week!) to keep moving in the new direction. It will pay off.
Change is hard. That's why most people don't do it. But you ARE doing it, and that deserves applause. BRAVO! Now get to work.
This blog originally appeared at www.nowwhatcoaching.com/blog