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.

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.

Who are you? – A short story

Here is a short story:  Centuries ago in Japan, a monk was walking when suddenly met a samurai who was guarding a bridge. The samurai put his sword to the monk’s neck and asked:

-Who are you?

-Where are you going?

-Why are you going there?

 

The monk took a moment and asked: How much you does your lord pay you to guard this bridge? The samurai replied: 1 sack of rice per month The monk responded: I’ll pay you 3 sacks of rice to ask me the same questions every month.

samurai-monk

These are important questions to ask us once in a while. Our identity, our goals and our motives change over time. We need to re-discover ourselves the same way that we need to re-invent ourselves: to deal with the challenges we face.