In the last couple of weeks, my Facebook feed has been chock-full of posts about change, moving forward, letting go. Friends from around the globe, from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds are posting about a single brown leaf hanging onto a plant even as new growth has started elsewhere, looking forward through the windshield instead of backwards through the rear view mirror, and embracing the end of relationships.
What did these posts have in common? They were talking about fear, being stuck in place, dwelling in the past instead of living in the now. They were also talking about that dreaded place of uncertainty, of not knowing what’s coming next, the space in between.
Sure, there are times – and sometimes good reasons – to be apprehensive about the future. These are the didn’t-see-it-coming, less welcome changes, where we consciously cling to the past.
Other times, we really want the change, we actually long for it, anticipate it - and we get frustrated because it’s not happening fast enough. These are the want-it-now, welcomed changes...where we still manage to get in the way of allowing change to happen...by subconsciously engaging in thoughts and actions that got us where we are instead of where we want to go.
Since we know holding onto the past does absolutely nothing to keep today from happening or keep the future at bay, how do we continue to move forward? I’ll share a few tried-and-true thoughts that work whether you brought change upon yourself or it was thrust upon you.
Begin with the end in mind. I know, easy to say, harder to do. Sometimes your goal is a BHAG, a lifetime dream. Other times, it’s simply to be in a better place than where you are currently. Either way, “the end” can be daunting. So take baby steps. What can you do right now, in this moment, that inches – or propels – you toward your goal? Breaking things down into in-the-moment actions helps ratchet you towards where you’re going – and gets you used to the idea along the way. Soon, instead of inching along, you find yourself actually leaping for the next new thing. Keep moving forward, but be kind to yourself. Trust.
Use powerful and empowering language. There’s no bigger lie than the old adage “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” In reality the thoughts and words you use – especially when it comes to self-talk – can make or break how you view your day or how successful an endeavor will be. Are the words you use with yourself limiting and closed, or are they expansive and opening? It’s much more empowering to choose not to do something or choose-this-instead-of-that than it is to think you can’t do something, which puts the focus on what you’re doing without. Instead of waging a war against something, why not be an advocate for whatever you prefer? Think about how you talk to yourself. Are you being kind or harsh? Are you trusting?
Focus on the present moment because in reality, that’s all we have. Whaaaatt? I thought we were keeping our eye on the ball, keeping the end in mind!? We still are, BUT…When you’re frustrated or overwhelmed, isn’t it easier to choose to act differently, just this one time, in this moment, than to decide to behave this way the rest of your life? On the other hand, isn’t it better to allow yourself to stray from a rigid path, just this once, instead of beating yourself up for straying, especially if you’re committed to getting back on the path the next time you have an opportunity to choose? (If all of this sounds like rhetoric, apply what I just said to the last time you tried to diet.) And remember to be kind to yourself. And oh yes, trust.
Whether the change you are facing is professional, personal or both, I’m hoping this post helped you break at least one seemingly insurmountable challenge down into manageable, bite-sized pieces so you can keep moving forward. Remember to be kind to yourself. And to trust.
In the meantime, since we teach what we most need to learn, you'll have to excuse me now while I go take a good, long look in the mirror! Bon voyage!