Someone made a joke recently that whoever is in charge of the sun in heaven is back. We have had some sunshine over the past few days and it looks like the season has changed. Now the heaters can take a break.
This got me thinking about transition – releasing the old, just like those heaters to welcome the new. In life we go through so many transitions, including change of jobs, promotion, retirement or sabbaticals, changes in business environment or family circumstances, etc. All these change your level of income. Sometimes the transitions are disruptive. Just when we are comfortable and finally feel settled, the disruption happens. So if you are in a transition of some sort, here is what I’ve learnt along the way.
Firstly, accept the change. There are many unhappy people hanging on to winter when it is summer. I’ve caught myself still wanting to load on the blankets just in case the sun guy goes back on leave in the middle of the night and temperatures drop. But the season has changed. Accepting means more than just verbalising this.
It means taking time to also see life through a new lens. For example, when you transition from employment into business, you need to see things from a business perspective. When you move to a new job, you need to understand how this organisation works and accept the different way they do things.
Tom, had been trying to hang on to a toxic employee in his business because she was very gifted. He justified it for years and wanted to believe it was other people who were the problem. After another fight (with probably the tenth person in the span of a year), Tom finally got the message.
What are you hanging on to that has just not been working? A career, status, lifestyle? It is time to let it go and start over. Yes, you have the education, experience, networks and even money, but you really don’t know how this next season of your life unfolds.
We often make the mistake of trying to define the future with our past. We bring the past into a different job, business, title, because that is what we know.
Then nothing will have changed. Tom cannot go and look for somebody exactly like that employee. He would have to redefine what attitudes he is looking for so that he does not make the same mistake. Once this person starts, he also cannot compare them with his ex-employee. That’s what I mean by recreating our past.
Many people who retire do try to recreate their jobs because that’s the only identity they know. Just because you were previously an accountant does not mean your opportunities are limited to accounting the way you knew it. Wipe the slate clean and understand your skill set differently.
Understand that in transition, you will feel scared. There is nothing wrong with this. Fear will always be present when you step out of your comfort zone. Take on the attitude of a student. Learn along the way and be prepared to fail. Fear doesn’t go away, but you get better at failing. You might not take it too personally anymore. ‘I failed’ does not mean ‘I am a failure’. It was just a lesson that needed learning.
Last but not least, take small steps towards the new. It could be research, a conversation, a change in habit, a course, some time off, a different investment. We usually procrastinate waiting for ideal circumstances or a big bang to tell us that we got the message right. I’ve learnt that it is really the small things that we use to signal to ourselves that we are ready to change. That we are now in alignment with this next season and ready to accept what it brings us. Step into it a day at a time.