Thinking about Initiating Change in Your Life? Here’s Your Transition Guide.

by | Sep 30, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Thinking about Initiating Change in Your Life? Here’s Your Transition Guide.

During the last three years of my life, I’ve spent a lot of time and energy on what I  wanted to do with my life. I’ve learned a lot about myself along the way. Here are some of the things I wish I had known when I began my change journey.

1. You are already whole and have within you what you need to move forward.

This is a part of the Gestalt stance and it’s one of my favorites. I often share this with my clients when I contract with them initially and explain what Gestalt coaching is. I’ve even heard this phrase repeated back to me in coaching sessions. It’s a powerful statement and one that bears repeating. 

2. Change is not a linear process.

Your journey is your own and because of that it will look different than anyone else’s journey. Change is a bumpy road that curves, dead ends, or destroys your tires. There will be experiences that put you outside your comfort zone. Do what you can for yourself to get yourself through those bumps and be open to where that road might take you. Where you end up might be completely different from where you thought you might be. 

3. Be kind to yourself.

As humans, we have a tendency to be really hard on ourselves. It’s common to focus on what we are not doing well instead of on what we are doing right. How you frame where you are in your journey can inform how you feel about yourself. For example, someone who continuously says, “I keep messing everything up and I’m not doing anything right” is going to believe that story about themselves. If you were to reframe that as, “I have tried this and I’ve learned from it and now I will try it a different way,” you will believe this to be an opportunity for learning.  We understand ourselves in the context of the language that we use. So be kind to yourself and if you find yourself framing things in a negative way, try to reframe it and see what the opportunity might be.

4. Having a positive and compelling vision can help ignite your energy during difficult times.

According to Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth by Richard Boyatzis, Melvin Smith, and Ellen Van Oosten, “For change to be ignited and sustained, a personal vision provides the essential foundation because it is a meaningful expression of a person’s passion, purpose, and values. It is a comprehensive image of what we wish to do and who we wish to be in our lives.” 

Having a personal vision that centers around the person you want to be can inspire you towards action. If you haven’t written a personal vision for yourself, I encourage you to do so and as you write down your dreams, ask yourself the question, “If I was living my ideal life, who would I be? What does my life look like?”

5. Having an action plan is helpful and so is being flexible when your plan changes. 

Whatever your change journey looks like for you, it’s helpful to have a plan for what you will do moving forward. If you come to the realization that you’d like to leave your current job, having an understanding of what you would need to do in order to leave will help you begin to act on your change initiative. Think of your action plan like a compass, rather than a map. Having a vision will help to guide your action plan. There will be times when your plan changes. Allow flexibility within your plan to give you some space to explore what emerges.

6. Higher education is an option but there are many ways to learn.

When I was at a low point in my life, I chose to enroll in a master’s program. The program was transformative and changed my life. But higher education is expensive, can put you into debt, and there isn’t always a guarantee that you will be able to find a job afterwards in the field you studied. 

There are so many different ways to learn. Attend webinars, free courses if you can find any offerings in what you want to learn (Coursera is a good resource), or find communities of people you want to learn from. If there is a field of study you’re interested in but unsure of, try reading book or articles from leaders in the field. See if there are any professional networks you can join. I highly recommend you get a public library card and see if there is any programming that your library offers or if you can gain access to academic journals and research databases through your library.

7. Become intimately aware of your financial situation.

When considering big life changes, it’s important to consider the realities of your financial situation. Take inventory of your debt, your bills, and your income to gain a better sense of where you are. If you’re planning to quit your job or create a business, it’s helpful to take a look at your budget and gain a clear sense of what you’re spending money on. When I was thinking about quitting my job, I had a conversation with my husband and we talked everything through – my debt, our bills, and how we would adjust to a loss of income. Taking a hard look at your finances will help to give you clarity on what you might need to do in order to move towards your goals and vision. 

8. Embrace Failure.

Change and personal growth requires practicing new behaviors. The best way to learn is to try something, fail at it, and try again. The only way that I can become a better coach is to practice coaching. Do you think I was the best coach during my first coaching session? No. It takes constant practice, learning, and having the courage to try something different and seeing what happens. I know it’s uncomfortable to fail at something but it can be such a beautiful gift to reframe your failure by asking yourself, “What have I learned?”

9. It’s okay to be vulnerable and share your experiences with others.

When I worked at Oberlin, I felt like I was at my absolute lowest point in my life. I felt alienated by what I was experiencing and I was absolutely miserable. The more I started talking to other people within my organization, I realized that I wasn’t the only person who felt the way I did. I wasn’t alone. Connecting with others and sharing your experience with them can be healing and affirming. You’re not on an island by yourself. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s important that the people you share with are safe and will hold what you share within a container. A good way to tell if someone is safe is to listen to your heart and your gut and what your body is telling you about this person. If something within you is hesitant or doesn’t feel quite right, listen to yourself and limit what you share with that individual.  

10. Seek out the support of close friends and family.

In the Intentional Change Theory Model, the understanding is that between all steps in the process, from the Ideal Self to the Real Self and exploring strengths, your learning agenda, and experimenting with new behaviors, you will find trusting relationships that help, support, and encourage in the center of each step in the process. The understanding is that individuals are more capable of sustaining a change effort if they have resonant relationships with people in their lives who provide support through that change. Make time for the people who support you because they may inspire you to continue as you experience shifts and changes in your life. 

11. Meet with people who have careers doing things you are curious about.

Having conversations with people who are doing the thing that you are considering gives you an understanding of what their work looks like. They can provide guidance on how you can get started. Building a relationship and networking with them can also be helpful if they know of any available positions in the area of work that you are considering. As the conversation nears closure and they ask you how else they can help, ask if they might know of 3 other people they can introduce you to so that you can continue to build your support community. 

12. It’s okay to set boundaries and safeguards where they’re needed.

As you experience growth and change, you may start to realize that your priorities have shifted. This is a normal part of the process. As your priorities change, you might discover that you will need to create boundaries around certain areas of your life. For example, if you’ve decided that your family is more important to you than your work, you might need to create new boundaries in order to maintain a healthy balance between the two. Creating boundaries are an important way of protecting your mental energy, health, and wellbeing to ensure that you have the time, energy, and space to give to things that matter most to you. 

13. Pay attention to how people respond to your boundaries.

How someone responds to your boundaries is useful data for what they value and care about most. Someone who values work over their personal life might have a harder time understanding when you try to create a boundary around when it is appropriate to communicate with you. If creating boundaries is new to you, it might be challenging at first and you might have to learn hard lessons about some people you care about. Having healthy boundaries is integral to maintaining your mental health and wellbeing. If someone in your life is not capable of respecting your boundaries, it might be a good time to re-evaluate that relationship in your life. One of the hardest lessons I’ve have to learn is that when you change, you’ll start to re-evaluate the relationships in your life and some people might not want to continue a friendship with the person you’re becoming.

14. If you don’t feel like yourself, it’s helpful to talk to a therapist.  

After I quit my job, I felt completely drained. I slept late. I struggled with motivating myself to get anything done. My confidence had taken a serious hit. I kept having the same conversations with myself about what I did wrong and what I could have done differently. My husband finally shared with me that there were limits in the support he could provide and that it might be time to see a therapist. Seeking therapy was the best thing that I could do for myself at the time. What people don’t tell you when you hope to change your life is that you might have learned some ways of responding in the world based on what you know but what you know or how you’ve learned to respond isn’t always going to serve you well when you begin to transform into your best self. You might need to learn new ways of responding or adapting to the world around you. If you’re discovering that you don’t feel like yourself or you’re really struggling, it might be time to consider additional help in therapy. 

15. Coaching can help you transition much sooner.

When I was still working full time, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my career but I knew it was not what I was currently doing. I tried to find people within my organization who could help provide guidance but I quickly realized that they had no idea how to help me. Actively working with a coach would have gotten me to where I wanted to go much sooner and it would have been so helpful to have had the support during more challenging times.

If you are ready to begin your change and growth journey and are looking for support from a coach, schedule a time with me to chat.

-Marissa L. Evans