Change is what happens to you and the only power one has is what you are going to do about it.
Moving on to a boat with my parents at age 10 made the change of life more rapid. We lived in Oyster Point Harbor near Candlestick in the California Bay Area sometimes. There were only a few large boat live-aboard slips so when we left in the summertime to go up the Stockton River it was a gamble if we had a spot waiting for us when we returned. If we didn’t dock there we would be in Half Moon Bay Harbor, a town I grew up in as a child. They, too, only had so many spots available and during the holidays my parents took our boat to San Francisco and we lived near Pier 39 and the enjoyed the holiday months of November to January there. I never knew where I would be more than 6 months out, if that.
Perhaps all this change as a child helped me grow the skills to adapt quickly, pivot, and keep moving. Over the years I have shaped and modified a process I use to help manage my emotions and impact when unexpected change happens. I want to share this process with you all in hopes that it might help if you need something to get through this change or the next one, because, as you know, they just keep coming.
I’m not going to tell you that change is great and all that. Sometimes it is, but you know what? Sometimes it isn’t and it sucks, it is hard, raw, and you can’t think over all of the emotion that it brings. I have been there, and it is hard, it is dark, and you are scared of the uncertainty of it all. This is when this tool helps the most.
It can be a great thing to see change and sometimes great stuff can also be hard, like a fabulous new job that requires you to move. The hardest changes to overcome can be the ones you don’t see, don’t want, or that feel wrong or dark. The good news is change is constant and this moment, feeling, time in your life will change one day. But it might not be as soon as tomorrow and so you need to find a path to get through it.
Just like getting lost, the best thing to do when you feel yourself start to panic is to assess the situation. What is the situation? What are your resources? Do you have a path or process or direction to follow or map with your options? When you see it all in front of you, no matter what you are working with, it will give you a sense of calm or at least help you know what you are working with.
For me, this process of collecting the current situation really helps me stop worrying. Maybe it is a pro’s and con’s list or a mind map of options. Just like a before photo prior to doing a new fitness boot camp or diet, this list is your starting point to something new, something better. Sometimes just seeing the photo will make you appreciate what you do have or it can be a big wake-up call to fix what you might have missed.
I’m kind of a data girl and I love numbers. As a child, I learned how to cope with change by shutting off my emotional side and thinking about things analytically. I am a very emotional person and still learning! This process of shutting it off might be harder for some and it is for me when the impact is so big or feels so important. What I do to help me get there is I put a price on the change. What is the impact? The cost of this change? The denomination isn’t in dollars, it is in time. How much of my time is this change worth?
For example, when my dad passed away it was a huge impact on my life. We were very close and I had helped take care of him in his battle with dementia. The cost of this change was 3 months. I cried a lot, I was sad, and I did what I had to to make it through the day. After that, I celebrated my dad’s life by being a good mother, a happy person, living the life I knew he wanted me to have.
Maybe it is a smaller change like something at work didn’t go right, a project is delayed, or you messed up and it made a big impact. Are you even going to remember this mishap 1 year from now? Did you learn from the event? Was the benefit of learning worth more than the mistake? How bad was this in the grand scheme of things and how much did it cost you? What was it worth? Is your career at stake? Your job, trust, friendship? For me seeing something positive in the mistake lowers the cost and if you look hard enough there usually is one. I also believe if you aren’t failing then you aren’t trying hard enough. Pushing yourself helps you grow, and so does failure.
I didn’t get a job that I really wanted. I actually posted about it on my first Instagram TV video since I wanted to share what failure looked like to remind myself that it takes a journey. Enjoying the ride is what it is about and there is no place to find happiness as it has to be within you. Of course, when I recorded the video months ago I wasn’t happy and I was holding back tears. It hurt not getting the job, but the cost of this change was only getting the rest of my day. For the rest of the day, I was sad, I cried, and I wallowed in it. After I went to bed and woke up the next day I moved on. Why spend my time on someone, something that didn’t value me and all that I had to offer. Maybe it was for the best.
We loved our nanny and she was amazing but then something changed after the 3rd year and our 2nd was born. She called out over 30 days on top of her 3 weeks off. Then on top of that, 90% of the time it was a text saying she couldn’t make it 30 minutes before when we expected her. By then I was already on my way to work. My hubby who works from home was often the one who had to call out as I worked at Amazon and I only got 2 weeks off and 3 sick days a year and that went fast since they also didn’t offer maternity at the time, (but that is another story.) Even after nanny was out all the time we kept her, our kids loved her, and we needed her. Then one day when I was traveling for work she texted that she hurt her foot and likely would need to be out to heal. Under normal circumstances, we would have fought to make it work in the short term but it was obvious she was over the job and really wanted a way out. I was really sad to say goodbye to someone who was in my family’s life for 4 years and I’d just lost my dad. My son loved his nanny and the community of friends they had. The cost of this change was big for all of us but I only gave it an hour. I have faith that things happen for a reason and we had hung on to something to avoid change, almost in fear that we had no other choice we needed her but there are a ton of other people who want to be nannies and I was right. We ended up finding the most amazing lady who is even better than I could dream of and someone I really consider a friend a part of our family. My kids are even going to be in her wedding this summer and she will be in our lives forever. A confirmation that change is good!
I’m sure you have heard it before but you know I am going to say it again since we both need to hear it. Life isn’t about the goal or destination, it is about riding the wave, the bumps, the hills, the journey. You need to be thankful when the sun is shining, learning the lessons when it isn’t. Be blessed you get the opportunity to grow, soak it up, build your strength, and put a cost to the change and then strategize on how to pivot so you drive your own boat.
Remember you move in the direction of your most dominant thoughts. You are in charge of your journey and don’t forget to let your “WHY” be great enough to pull you through the hardest times.
When it rains it pours, but when the sun comes out it sparkles so bright it makes every drop worth it. You’ve got this. Enjoy the ride of life and learn from lessons when it is dark. Sometimes these lessons are priceless and make the joy of the success that much more.
As an afterthought, I wanted to add this section. By nature, I am a helper and I always will be. As someone who likes to help, I don’t always know how. I found that after I became a mother I knew how to be a better friend to those who are just having a baby. Now that I have gone through the journey of grieving for a parent I am better at providing this kind of support. As an expert in change, I wanted to share how best you can be a friend to others who are going through change.
A friend might call you up and wants to talk about the change. Listen, be there for them and when it is your turn to talk don’t bring it back to you but stay on the topic and ask questions.
What not to say:
- That happened to me too!
- Why did you do that?
- You shouldn’t feel that way.
- Look on the bright side.
What to say (some good default ones I got from the book Eight Dates):
- What are you feeling?
- What do you need?
- What are your choices?
- How can I help?
Other suggestions on what to do to be a change agent and help others navigate:
- Treat them and get them out of the house.
- Give them 1:1 time to talk.
- Bring them dinner, a plant, a bag of treats.
- Get them outside in the fresh air.
- Check-in on them.
Everyone manages life changes differently but I do hope this guide helps you as things change for you or as a change agent helping others manage these seasons of life.
Remember it only takes a few minutes to do a kind act that could mean the world to someone. * L