The only way to successfully grab onto something new is to let go of the old ...
I am an individual who really likes change. I like change in my life, and I love working with organizations and individuals on how to envision, navigate and sustain change. However, there is a bit too much change going on in my personal life right now! It's all positive change, but that doesn't make it any easier to weather the rough waters right now. Our best friends moved away. I have another great friend moving to California for a year. My son-in-law has graduated from college and in the job search has put that he is open to move "anywhere" (that would mean having the 3 year old grandson move away - not to mention my daughter). My youngest son is getting married and has graduated from college - time to find a job! Those are just the big changes - add in all the small ones and it begins to feel as if all parts of my life are in flux. That is not at all true, but can feel like that at times.
All of this has brought my change management consulting back into the forefront of my mind. I want to share 2 simple change concepts with you today that have helped me greatly over the years, and I hope that you can use them in your own lives.
#1 - The hardest part of any change is letting go. We tend to focus our energy on the new (new job, new house, new baby, new haircut, new boss, etc.). That tends to be the exciting part of change - the reason that we DO change in the first place. The harder part of the change, that typically gets overlooked, is the letting go. I love this picture of the two trapeze artists. You know that the woman on the left doesn't want to hang onto her trapeze forever - she really wants to grab onto her friend's hands. Yet, there is an instant where she is just so afraid to let go of that very comfortable swing. She can't do both. The only way to be successful is to let go. It can be scary to let go. We may let go and fall flat on our face. It may hurt. It may not work out. It may not be as great as we thought it was going to be. But, until we truly let go, we cannot embrace the new. We don't see the safety net in this picture, yet you know they have (or had) one. PQ - What is a change that you want to make but are afraid to? What is the safety net you need in order to let go of the old?
#2 - All change involves loss. That is actually the reason that letting go is so hard. We can miss things that we didn't enjoy or appreciate because at least they were familiar. We often mourn the loss of familiarity. When we have been doing something for a long time, we start to take things for granted. We no longer have to really think about what we are doing - it's automatic. It isn't until you have let go and step into the new place that you realize what you miss. You can actually anticipate the loss if you try. If you can anticipate or predict the loss, then you can better manage the change and not be so surprised or frustrated when you start to feel how different things are. Does that makes sense to you? Plus, we have the greatest opportunity to learn (about things, about others, about ourselves) during times of change. As humans, we try to skip over it - pretend that it isn't hard to let go or pretend that we know how to do everything in the new place. That's just not true! Let's not skip the learning. Dig into the time between old and new and learn. PQ - Think of an upcoming change in your life. What are you going to miss? What is going away? What will never be the same again?
For more on what I believe to be an essential life skill, I highly recommend reading a short little book by William Bridges. It's about 30 years old, but as relevant today as the day it was written.
Embrace the changes that come your way!
Everyone knows someone who struggles with change. Please do me and them a favor-forward them the link to this blog today and encourage them to signup. THANK YOU!