Transitions

Several years ago I read a comic book called “Escape from Cubeville” by Scott Adams. I remember it kind of resonated with me, but I was not sure I could leave the corporate job I had. Then I started exploring a little bit what it meant to be an entrepreneur with a couple of projects I abandoned to come to Canada. Here, I had the opportunity to start my Coaching practice in 2006, almost without noticing: a friend of mine asked me for advice on her career change, then recommended me with some people and then other friends started doing the same. Three years ago, when I started my masters, I had to look for clients and I discovered that I loved talking with new people and help them develop new skills and see things under a different light.

Two years ago, I decided it was a good idea to start my own company at the same time I was working. I wouldn’t feel the urgency of getting more clients as I had my salary, but I would build my confidence as a consultant and coach. Finally, this year I went through the transition of being an employee to being an entrepreneur and I discovered several things. A lot of them apply to our lives, either we are entrepreneurs or just in any transition.

My first reflection is how conditioned we are to run the rat race. Leaving behind the corporate title we have is not easy. The same when we have a break-up or we quit a job. We think we absolutely need what our job or relationship was giving us: security, routine, status. We’re conditioned to need it; we’re used to be called someone’s partner, someone’s boss, etc. But the reality is that it hasn’t been always this way. The first days are not easy: it’s like going out to daylight when we have been comfortable inside our caves. There are a lot of new things waiting to be discovered, but we don’t know how to approach to them.

LET’S WORK

The way I see it, we need to see the process in two ways: externally and internally, and they are interwoven.

Take your time to analyze the situation where you are and the two different process you may need to take.

I hope you enjoyed the process and please, feel free to share your insights and questions in the comments section.

Internally Externally
What do you want What are the opportunities available for you
What are the skills you have What does the situation requires from us
What are the skills you need to develop Who/what can help you develop them
What is the support system you need and have What are the next steps you need to take

Letting go in 7 easy steps

Life is an intermittent lesson of letting go.  We have something, we get used to it, and more often than not, we need to let it go.

One of the biggest “let go” moments happened some months ago. Last October I graduated from a Masters program and I was ready to let go of my work in Customer Service with the intention of looking for a new job and starting again my career in Organizational Development. I did this for years in Mexico and I wanted to go back to this field. I was ready to let go of the certainty while I found a new job, but I couldn’t imagine the whole picture at the moment.

I live in Montreal, a vibrantly bilingual city, that is receiving more and more immigrants every day. I had the opportunity to work in Spanish and English most of the time, I attended school in English and the first thing I had to let go, after being laid off, was of my comfort with the language.  A big portion of the jobs are exclusively for fluently French speaking professionals and my “good” French wasn’t enough.

When I moved here I knew I had to let go of the comfort of the familiar, the friends and relatives, the places that I knew and where they knew me. After 6 years of adapting myself to a new environment, I had to let go of this barely familiar environment. I thought it was a good time to flow and put my attention and my intention to the French. All this came with a little bit of frustration, for sure, but I’m someone who knows how to adapt to the new realities.

I had to let go of my previous life-style as before I wasn’t careful with the money, I wouldn’t be concerned of investments and I was always very generous with everyone who needed money. I had to let go this “no worries” attitude and be more mindful of the way I spend.  For sure, generosity is very important, but not everything is money. I’ve learned to value my time and my intention.

I also had to let go of my superficial need for consumption, buying things I didn’t need, or things I could make myself, including prepared food. Prepared food is expensive and less healthy than food that we make ourselves, but you know, no one has time to prepare bread, for example.  Food is just an example but there are many things that I can do myself, and that are not difficult (such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, creams, deodorants, etc).  I can say that I was moderately crafty, but I have discovered new interests and skills now that I have more time and less money.

But perhaps the most important thing that I had to let go was a “self-sufficient” attitude. I was the one who helped others, I was the one solving problems and I was the one who knew what to do. My ego was probably the most affected in the process, but I finally applied the common sense advice that we have ever given or received: “Ask for help”.

So, this is my reflection for you today. One of the biggest obstacles for change is our inability to LET GO of anything (attitudes, assumptions, relationships, jobs, concerns) that no longer serve us. Let go in order to get to different, new places. Let go of the past, so the past can let go of you.
let go

LET’S WORK!

Here are some simple ideas to let go of the past and embrace the unknown future.   Of course, they can be as difficult or easy as you want them to be. If you need help applying them, or letting go, please, feel free to comment or contact me directly.

1. Be honest and remember the good and the bad. Not everything was perfect and you know it.

2.  Embrace things as they come. Remember that things come and go, that no one promised us anything, nor we signed a contract before arriving to this world. Everything is an expectation and the bigger they are, more room for disappointment, so let’s be conscious.

3. Focus on what you can control. Yes, it’s not fair that people tend to hire their friends, for example, but what I can do is develop more skills to better position myself.

4.  Allow yourself to express the emotions you feel. If you feel like venting, do it, but then do something that is positive, that brings you closer to your goal.

5. Take responsibility but don’t put all the guilt on you. Yes, you may have contributed to the situation, but sometimes, bad things just happen.

6. Be open to new experiences and thankful for the positive ones. The mind receives millions of stimuli every day. Focus on the ones that serve you and be thankful for them. You cannot be thankful and sad at the same time.

7.  Relax. Think what’s the impact of this in the future. In the next 20 years, will this situation still matter? Probably no, so, just relax.

Moving through change

As I mentioned in this post, learning how to move through the different stages is key in our developing process. Knowing how to move forward to acceptance instead of staying stuck in depression or hostility is the only way to be happy. Our lives are full of challenges and disappointment, otherwise they would be really boring.

To move forward we need to start where we are. We cannot wait until we feel in a “better place” to do it. This means we need to exercise, to go out and talk with people, to stop licking our wounds.  Yes, you might be tired, hurt, sad, but the only way to move forward is to move out of your comfort zone. I know it’s easier said than done, but we all need to do it, nonetheless.

Then, we need to do whatever we can. Not everyone can afford a luxury trip, or pay for the best therapist in the world, and the best of it, it’s that we don’t need to. Exercise and Nature are the easiest and cheapest forms of therapy. You don’t need a lot of equipment to go jogging or sit in a park.

Finally, we need to learn to be grateful. You cannot feel sad if you’re grateful. This might sound as a cheap advice, but the truth is that you have been blessed with friends, family, life.  If you’re able to read this, you have received more blessings than half of the world, at least. Stephen Hawking was once asked if he would change anything in his life, he answered he couldn’t imagine how he could be happier.

grateful411

When we’re sad we’re living in the past; when we’re stressed we’re living in the future. The best way to ensure happiness is to live in the present: right here, right now. 

LET’S WORK!

Now, write down a list of 3 blessings you have received this month; and each day, imagine that only the things that you’re grateful for, will be given to you tomorrow.

Our inner voice

A great advice I heard about parenting is: Watch the words you use with your kids, as it will later become their inner voice.

I spent over 10 years fighting against the judgement I received when I was growing up. And although in the process of doing it, I acquired and honed more knowledge and skills, I also acquired fears and self-doubt. A lot of the habits I have now, are consequence of what my inherited inner voice tells me.

During the last decade, I have seen how amazing people – people I thought were incredibly gifted – felt unsure, flawed or irrelevant.  And in the same way that Prof. Chamine explains, I had the opportunity to reflect on how important it is for happiness and success, to recover our self-esteem.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zdJ1ubvoXs&feature=youtu.be]

To prevent sabotages in our lives, we need to pay attention to our inner voice and encourage our sage to speak up. We cannot just ignore these voices, we need to understand what they’re telling us and where are they coming from and then address them.

LET’S WORK!

As we know, the knowledge is useless if it doesn’t impact our actions, so, I’d like to invite you write down the 3 most important things that have been sabotaged by your inner critics.

Now, add the 3 usual messages your inner critic (or saboteur) says to you.  Identify what’s the intention of this critic and the emotion behind it. Now, think of what someone who you admire would say to encourage you. Finally say these words to yourself as often as you needed them.

Here is an example of one of them:

Situation: I’m  creating an online course that will be part of my signature program.

Critic voice: Don’t even worry doing this. It’s a lot of work and no one will buy it.

Intention: I’m self-doubting, I don’t want to risk myself.

Emotion: Fear

Positive Message:  You have something positive to share. This work will inspire people to change and inspire you to take more challenges!

Take action and get rid of your inner critics, you can get the life you want!

The Change Process

The map is not the territory but, God, it helps!

Lacking clarity is one of the first obstacles to change. We face the unknown every single day, but we tend to approach life in very small steps that allow small room to chaos. We try to predict outcomes and we plan in consequence. However, there are moments when we don’t really have a clue. We’re totally lost and are not sure about what the next steps are, what we might need or how to ask for help.

Changes are not always voluntary and easy. When we feel forced to change we might feel we’re losing something. This model,  based on the Kübler-Ross model of transition dealing with loss, considers the productivity and morale that will go down during the change process and will go back to normal once that the team/person are committed again to the change. Of course, the different stages are not rigid, and may vary in duration for different people. 

personal change curve.png

However, the curve is not so simple, it usually looks like this: 

© 2000 / 3 JM Fisher.

Most of the change management model talk about this curve. Project Managers and Change Management specialists know that more than 70% of the change initiatives will fail if they don’t have enough support through change.

We know that people may move from anxiety to hope or happiness and then descend into fear, guilt and sadness because of the loss, and that these feelings will probably hinder the change process.

Each person may experience different emotions at different pace. Each change process is also different. Depending on what is happening in their lives, people may start another curve and go deeper in these negative emotions.

Understanding the process makes easier going through it. This is why is important to reach out for help or at least support when we’re dealing with difficult changes in our lives.

In a future post, we’ll discuss how to move through the different stages and how to move forward to acceptance instead of staying stuck in depression or hostility.

But, for now, remember that you’re not alone. If you’re feeling sad, lost or unaccomplished, or think that you won’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, you need to remember that each project that is worth doing, takes time, energy and courage.

The 4 keys for Change

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

You want to be happy. You want to feel good. You want to change a situation that is not pleasant. And that’s what we all want, but how?

Past or future concept.

SUPPORTING THE CHANGE PROCESS

1. If you haven’t done it yet, this is a great time to start: choose your thoughts. You might “listen” to all of them, but you don’t have to let them stay.

You need to stop feeling as a victim so you can take the power back. The other person or the situation is no longer in control.  As Viktor Frankl said: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

When we’re in control we can change things. 

2. Identify the situation: Once that you take ownership of the situation, you can move forward. To do it, you need two things: identify where you are and where are you want to go. Once that you know both things you can start walking. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time, as you don’t know for sure if you’re headed on the right direction.

The best way to change something in your life is to find who are you. What inspires you. How do you feel about your current situation. What is the gap between where you are and where you want to be. How willing are you to make the change. Because, let’s face it: change has a price, and you might decide as well not to pay it. And that’s ok!

3. Now that you know where you’re going, you need to have a plan. Plans are not important, planning is key. You need to have a clear plan in mind and you need to be flexible about it.  A plan will focus your mind; it will filter the thousands of thoughts that come to your mind every day and let you pay attention to the important ones. Plan every week but give yourself enough free time to enjoy life and enough flexibility to be spontaneous.

4. Don’t lose faith! As one of my favorite authors, Clarissa Pinkola Estes says, “Do not lose heart. We were made for these times”. Don’t accept discouragement from anyone (including you). Don’t walk back if you’re headed somewhere. Take advantage of every effort you have made, even if didn’t work in the way you expected. As for the negative comments, well, consider them as fertilizer for the skills you’re cultivating.  People sometimes have a weird ways of reacting to change. When you’re in control of your life, some people will react, but remember that if they love you, they’ll accept you.

It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t listen to what people have to say, especially people that are important to you, but, you need to identify their intentions and reasons. Is it fear? envy? resentment? Then, don’t take it with you.

We can either make things happen or watch what happens, the choice is yours.  You just need to trust the process.