Have you ever found yourself caught in a transition (expected or not) where you have to say good-bye to something that you really loved? Maybe you have retired from a career or you are changing positions. Or you are moving to a new town and you don’t know anyone there. Or you have left the life of being a young, hip, working girl to be a stay-at-home mom. Or after years of being a stay-at-home mom, you suddenly need to go back to work and you have no idea how to re-enter the work force. Maybe a marriage is ending and life is going to look different for you as you move forward. For me, the transition this year is living in the empty nest. I am celebrating this time in my life, but I admit that it is bittersweet!
One of my former coaching clients contacted me recently because the company she worked with for over 20 years was going through a huge transition and she didn’t think she could move forward with all the uncertainty of what this company was going to do. She was frustrated, heart-broken, and stuck. She was holding onto nostalgia and sentiments and finding it difficult to leave. But moving forward into the unknown was equally as challenging. She was having trouble letting go because of all the good memories and fun she had over two full decades. She was having trouble moving forward because who she became was dependent on the existence of that company and without it, she didn’t know who she really was anymore.
As women, we often embrace everything that we do with such passion and commitment that it is easy to let those roles double as our one true identity. Then, when the circumstances change, we are left feeling lost and uncertain. The transition out of one role into another can often erode our confidence.
Losing a job, or losing a company that has become a big part of who you are (sometimes for years or even decades) can be devastating. It’s the transition time that brings about that discomfort. If you allow yourself to be defined by something outside of you, rather than your own authentic spirit, you could be stuck in disillusion and grief for a long time!
If you are going through any kind of transition that is leaving you in question of who you are in the world or what you’re going to do next, here are five tips that will help you get clear:
1. Discover your natural gifts and talents!
Sometimes we’re so busy doing something we love dearly that we never have to stop to think about what our gifts and talents really are. I am always shocked when a new client comes to a call and cannot answer that question! We are FULL of amazing qualities, yet we are not aware of most of them. What do people come to you for? Where are you most likely to jump in and help because the task at hand comes so easily for you? Are you a natural organizer? Are you natural at being an awesome hostess – full of hospitality? Are you a good listener? Ask and answer this question: If someone were in a situation and needed help, and the first person they thought of to help them is you, what situation are they in? This exposes where you thrive naturally, and h ighlights quite a few gifts that you have inside of you! Write them down!
2. Embrace your personality and don’t try to be someone you’re not!
There is nothing worse than trying to pretend to be someone you’re not. I love working with personalities and mostly, helping people understand why they do the things they do, and accept that it’s okay! It’s natural to compare ourselves to others, but too often, we see someone being happy and living a life that we think we’d like to live, so we go about doing what that person does when it is completely unnatural for us. I have a strong personality that is full of adventure, with a lot of creative projects and ideas spread across my table at any given time. I’m ambitious and spontaneous and I’ve been known to do wild and crazy things sometimes! Having a career that allows plenty of freedom and travel and adventure, while challenging me to grow and learn wi th no limitations is vital for me to stay happy and fulfilled! But to one of my sweetest, dearest friends, that kind of freedom would stress her out. She needs a to do list that she can mark off each day, and be able to go home and leave her work on the 9 to 5 desk! She is deliriously happy in her job, and so am I! But we have careers that fit our personalities. Don’t go against the grain. Don’t try to swim upstream. Find something that fits well and uses your personality to let you thrive!
3. Go deeper… discover your life purpose and get on with THAT work!
I love to do deep work with my clients. I love creating transformational shifts in my own beliefs and mindset that allows my true nature to emerge! Sometimes, I am so caught up in the story going on in my life, that I fail to transcend the drama long enough to connect to what really matters. Again, I am surprised when a client cannot tell me what their life purpose is. Why is that so hard to articulate? Well, the reason is because it’s not something we think of in our head. Asking someone to tell me about their life purpose requires an answer from their heart and soul. And too often, we haven’t been in touch with our hearts long enough to discover what that might be. If you are in a time of transition, I highly recommend grabbing a book or worki ng with a coach or mentor to help you define and step into that purpose. It’s quite possible that everything showing up in your life right now, including a difficult transition is there to help you take ownership of your life’s true purpose. Truthfully, that is all we should be unwilling to compromise, because that requires us to show up authentically, using our natural gifts and talents, and doing the work we were meant to be doing. There’s a lot of resources for you out there, pick one and find your life’s purpose! Then, get on with THAT work! Its what you were born to do.
4. Honor the Journey!
Identify how your previous position helped you develop skills and experience that enhance who you are and what you can do next!
When ending a chapter in our lives, we will feel the obvious sadness, especially when it was something we enjoyed. I’m ending a span of three decades of being a mom and raising five children. While I feel the empty nest around me, I am embracing with so much gratitude all the wonderful experiences I had as a wife and mom! Sure, I’m still going to be a mom, but the job requires something different from me now! If you are leaving a career that you loved, the same hold true. Honor all the experiences you had and what they taught you. Make a list of everything you learned, everything you gained, and everything this part of your life story has taught you. Then, make a list of how it challenged you. Don’t forget to include how letting go of it right now is challenging you. What challenges us helps us to grow. What nourishes us, sustains our passion for what we do! Find a way to commemorate the ex perience that is ending. Let go. But take the list of blessings and lessons and gifts that this opportunity gave to you. Moving forward with appreciation and gratitude is so much more liberating and healthy than carrying heartache and anger and resentment into your future. Do the work; complete this journey by honoring all the aspects of it in a responsible and forwarding way.
5. Stay open to discovering new possibilities!
Look at this transition as an opportunity to shine and thrive doing something you love even more than what you did before! Facing an end to something often creates a mini-drama in my head. I live very passionately and my feelings run deep. So when something comes to an end I am all in! There is drama. There is conflict. There is pain. That’s just how I do transitions. But I’ve learned through the years that this is okay, as long as I keep moving forward. Getting stuck in the story is a horrible way to live. If you find yourself on the phone more than 30 minutes a day talking about whatever transition you are in, then you stuck. Give this reality its due time… but put a limit on how many times and how often you dwell on the good-bye story. Spend more time looking for the open windows! Look for what is possible! There’s a whole new world of experiences waiting for you and some pretty darn good ones just may pass you by if you are chatting away on the phone about whatever drama is occurring. Transcend the desire to be right and to keep processing what happened over and over. Stop telling the story of what happened and start looking at the blank page before you! It’s possible that this transition is the BEST thing to ever happen to you… and you just haven’t discovered that yet. So don’t miss the miracles because you’re stuck in the story of what used-to-be.
If you are in a transition, whether facing a new career or entering into the empty nest years, whether you are going through a divorce or moving to a new town and starting over, don’t fret! This is your moment! YOU get to define who you are in the world! Things, jobs, clothes, houses, and even families can change. But who you are, and who God made you to be in this world, that is constant. Go be YOU, and life will be grand again! I promise!