On the Move…Again!
Last Monday, I loaded up my Jetta, hopped on I-5 in Sacramento and drove the 581 miles due north to Portland. After nine hours on the road with the company of some good music and audiobooks, I finally pulled into the driveway of our Oregon home and took a deep breath as I considered all that lay behind and before me.
This was the first home Joel and I shared as a married couple; then only months after moving in, we accepted the opportunity to volunteer abroad in the Middle East for a year, taking us on yet another adventure! And now it was time to transition again with our next chapter starting in Northern California.
Transition. Change. Growth.
Whether it’s starting a new school year, job, relationship, or even ending something significant, our lives are dynamic and ever-changing. The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus of Ephesus, is well-known for saying “The only thing that is constant is change.” With everything in flux, it’s important to stay focused, grounded, and motivated toward the bigger picture.
With this in mind, here are three foundational strategies for embracing change with more ease and flow.
Create a Morning Practice
When life feels overwhelming, one of the core things that keeps me sane is intentionally starting my day with some kind of mindful practice that grounds me and gets me going. This could be anything from meditation, prayer, yoga, or setting a positive intention for the day.
Choose something that takes 5-10 minutes that helps you clear away the urgency of tasks and slows you down so you can really be present. Do this right after you wake up (even before you shower or exercise) and notice the difference. And if you need a place to begin, try this short breathing and visualization technique I love to do with my clients (and for myself!):
Find a comfortable place to sit or stand and plant your feet firmly on the ground in front of you so you feel the connection to the floor. Really feel your body in this moment. You may want to shrug your shoulders to release any tension or stress or reach your arms up to the sky, growing taller and stronger. Gently roll your head from side to side, releasing even more.
Now imagine there are deep roots growing out of your toes that keep you grounded and supported. Allow you body to grow even taller, taking a deep inhale in through your nose, and then letting it all go, exhaling through your mouth with a loud “haaaaaaaa” sound. Good.
Continue to breathe deeply, filling your belly up with air on your inhale, then drawing your belly button in toward your spine on your exhale. Keep breathing into your diaphragm, letting more of the tension, stress, and anything else that’s lingering evaporate away.
After your next exhale, consider how you are feeling right now, then speak this feeling out loud to yourself. There is power in naming your emotion in this place. Now, set a positive intention for how you want to live today. Close your eyes and visualize how you want to feel throughout your day as you live out this intention.
Now take three more deep, belly breaths, and then open your eyes and let your day begin!
Focus on the Vertical Dimension
When we want to change something, we traditionally think “how do I get from here to there?” This question stimulates our doing energies on a horizontal plane and gets us thinking about strategies, setting goals, and making plans. Too often, we may get so caught up in tasks that who we become is merely a function of all the work we’ve done, rather than the other way around. This is especially true in times of transition!
Consider what would happen instead if you shifted your focus inward on the being components of your life? In this deeper, vertical dimension, you begin to tap into your core values, natural strengths, and other inner resources that inform how you want to change, not just what you want to change. Instead of working off a “to do” list, try creating your “to be” list instead and see how this deepens your focus. Start by asking yourself: Who do I need to be here in order to do this well?
In his book Supercoach, author Michael Neill explains that “lasting, sustainable change nearly always happens in the vertical dimension.” When life is changing around us, we are at our best when we are connected deeply to this vertical dimension of being that guides the horizontal movement of doing. Play with the balance of these two energies and keep your “to be” list in mind as you move forward.
Celebrate Your Articulation Points
A few years ago, I started thinking about significant life changes in terms of articulation points that help me move in another direction so I can get where I ultimately need to go. In hiking terms, you can also think of this as a switchback that helps you navigate up the mountain safely. Or for those who love mathematics or computer science, think of these as a cut vertex. Overall, the outcome of these articulation points increase the number of possibilities moving forward by reducing less-optimal pathways that exist behind you.
Even when the change is hard (and especially then!), I encourage you to celebrate these articulation points and look for the new opportunities that are now open to you here. One way to embrace celebration is by asking yourself: In what ways is this transition my next transformation? Take the challenge to come up with at least 10 new possibilities that you can explore now, and then pick one to focus on activating in the next month. This is more than finding the silver lining in the rainstorm; it’s like bottling the rain so you can use it to grow something more powerful!
Here are some of the things I’m choosing to celebrate as I move from Oregon to California later this week:
- Living much closer to our immediate and extended family and friends
- Broadening my sphere of coaching and professional connections as I work in two states
- Exploring new restaurants, theatres, museums, and national parks
- Purging old items from our home and giving them new life through donations
- Finding new opportunities to serve our community and make a positive difference
Whatever changes you encounter in your life, try out these strategies to remain open to new perspectives so you stay grounded and positive. And if you’re ever in the greater Sacramento area, give me a shout out and I’ll show you around!
More on Managing Change
- Lead and be the change: Mark Mueller-Eberstein at TEDxRainier
- Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath
- Leading Change by John P. Kotter
Create a great day,