Change is good…even when it hurts
Good day my colleagues, clients and friends. Since I’ve been away for a while, I just thought I’d weigh in with why. I’m very grateful for your ongoing support.
Change is definitely in the air. Our daughter is on her way to university several provinces away in Nova Scotia, while our son is graduating from high school. My parents are moving out of my childhood home of 53 years. My partner is now working away at a fishing camp in N.W. Ontario. And of course my work as a freelance writer in an agile and ever-changing business and social world is continuously serving up something new.
Change is good. But sometimes it can be tinged with a gentle ache that perseveres even as we tell ourselves that the changes are all part of the natural progression of our lives.
While I’m thrilled that my daughter has the courage to pick up her life and dreams and take them to a new and exciting place, I’ll miss her amazing spirit, talent and goodness. While my son still has no clue what he wants to do after graduation, he’s becoming a good man and will find his way when he’s ready…and he will graduate despite years of struggles within the education system. I’m feeling my partner’s absence, but he’s doing what he’s meant to do.
My parent’s move from the home my dad said he’d “die in” has been escalated by health issues, which is normal for people their age – but unexpected, in particular for my dad, who just hung up his hockey equipment this past winter. The fact that they are going along with this – even though they can’t take their dog! – is both courageous and gracious. It really is all good but there’s a lot of history wrapped up in that old house on Beech Street.
I am also a second-year Sundancer at a ceremony that is happening the same weekend as the move. This is filling me with a surreal sense of loss. I won’t be there as a house filled with so much of who I am is being emptied room by room.
Amidst all this, I’ve been awarded the writing project of my dreams – an opportunity, like the Sundance, to bring everything I have to the table. The convergence of all of these things has struck me as being significant somehow. While I could be overwhelmed, I’m strangely thrilled by the complexity of life and the things that are beyond our control that we can choose what to do with.
Like so many of us who juggle the demands of life and work, I haven’t always been the best at protecting my own space and well-being. Yet the demands on me and the choices I’ve had to make over the past few months have forced me to do so.
A colleague and friend recently told me she couldn’t believe the change she saw in me. All I could tell her was, “I had no choice”– no choice but to make the choices that put my own well-being first. In doing that, I’ve been able to take care of myself as well as all the others who are depending on me during this change-ridden time. It’s normal for people to depend on me because I’ve usually come through. But I often did so at great personal and professional cost.
While I haven’t completely come through the other side, this time it feels different and I can see the changes in both my work and personal life.
Many of us are in that time in our lives where it feels like all we do is look after others, with little or no attention to our own needs. When the onslaught of all these changes started to roll toward me I knew I wasn’t going to survive if I didn’t make some serious, responsible choices in how I was going to manage them. Here is my top 10 list of the strategies I used. Hopefully some of them can work for you:
- Don’t sacrifice yourself – instead I set clear and realistic boundaries for what I would and wouldn’t do. I consciously didn’t say “could” or “couldn’t” as this wasn’t negotiable.
- Pause and refocus amidst conflicting priorities – in doing so, I also ensured my decisions aligned with my values.
- Find and use your voice – I used mine to again state what I would and wouldn’t do and what I would need to make it through.
- State what you need from others – this was important so that I could remain strong and supportive amidst all the change and competing priorities.
- Decide what you can give up and what you can live with – for example, I really don’t want my parent’s dog, but I understand it’s a barrier I needed to get out of the way so that they can move forward. I have space in my heart and my home for another dog and it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
- Check off the things you really don’t need to worry about – my daughter, for instance, is incredibly capable and will figure out her move with some gentle guidance. My son will graduate from high school. My parents will eventually love the place they’re in.
- Hand off what isn’t yours to carry –since I can’t be there to help on moving day, we’ve hired movers. What I will do is show up a couple of days before Sundance to pack and move what I can and again at the end of Sundance to say my good-bye’s to the house.
- Stop making unnecessary apologies – Guess what? I don’t know everything and I’m stopping my apologies for that. If I thought I did, I wouldn’t learn anything new.
- Recognize your own worth – I try to do this while also reminding myself that I have always done my best.
- Know who has your back – I do know this, and I’m grateful for each and every one of you.
Some of these choices have been tough, but as far as I can see everyone is still standing while I’m making them. I’ve shared this because I’m surprised and gratified by the positive impact all of these choice are having on my work, which is incredibly important to who I am… and to the services I provide to my clients, colleagues and friends.
And that I believe is also a very good thing.
I’d love to hear how you’ve managed your well-being through change. Send me an email or comment below.
Blast from the past – this old family photo, confiscated from my parent’s house, cracks me up!