Life is a process of beginnings and endings, with many doors opening and many doors closing.
I understand the challenges of transition all too well. Not too long ago, I had a rewarding job, lots of flexibility, and a great place to live. Everything looked awesome on paper, BUT something was missing, and I could feel it. The grasshopper showed up and literally told me it was time to take the leap and make a change. The Universe was saying, “Jump and we will catch you.” Can you say vulnerability?
So, I listened to my soul and quit my job, relocated to a new state and began the next leg of my journey without much of a financial safety net. I quickly realized that my familiar way of generating income, was no longer cutting it. I had to come up with a completely different game plan.
At this moment I am still in mid leap. Practicing what I preach, I am leaning into the discomfort and learning things about myself that I never would have known had I stayed in my little box of certainty. To be honest I wouldn’t change a thing.
The question is:
“How can we approach transition with an open mind and actually embrace uncertainty when our ego desperately seeks certainty?”
More often, major transitions are planned; like with retirement, getting married, or moving across the country for a job. Sometimes transition approaches us hard and fast with the death of a loved one, or an unexpected divorce. Other times, they’re a bit subtler, where your inner voice whispers, “Something just isn’t right, perhaps it’s time to shake things up a bit.” Change is never easy, yet, ironically, it’s one of the few things in life we can count on.
In the six human needs, as discussed by motivational speaker Tony Robbins, ‘Certainty’ is one of our top needs. The funny thing about certainty, is it‘s an illusion if you really think about it. What can we really be certain about? Gravity? That Pluto is a planet? That you will wake up tomorrow? Exactly!
As a Transformation Coach focused on business and life strategies, I’m constantly working with my clients on handling stress during transition, while teaching them to live in the present moment. What I’ve learned is that people living extraordinary lives, consistently lean into discomfort.
Consider the stock broker, the serial entrepreneur, the ER surgeon addicted to the adrenaline rush, and who thrive on change and uncertainty. We can leverage this to gain a very different perspective on transition and dealing with radical change.
Learning to be comfortable with uncertainty.
Facing the future
If we don’t address the emotions and issues at hand, they will eventually come back to bite us in the ass. Learning to stay in our body while experiencing difficult emotions equates to being present with what’s happening on the inside. Instead, most people check out and use outside sources to numb the pain and fill the void with things like food, alcohol or excessive television.
Moving forward in life can be challenging because it forces us to let go of the familiar and face the future with vulnerability, not a popular feeling with the masses. As a TedX Speaker and author of the book “Daring Greatly,” Brene Brown says, “When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, we lose the courage to be joyful.” So here we are as a society demanding growth and change, resisting vulnerability, the doorway to our inner joy and freedom.
Respond and adapt
Stress is the physiological response of the body triggered by the reptilian brain when we perceive ourselves to be threatened in some primal way. But it is actually in our heads, a pre-conditioning.
You may have heard the saying, “Change your mind, transform your life.” Typically events by themselves are not stressful. It is the belief we have created around them and the perception we hold about them, that creates the stress. When two people experience the same event, they can respond and adapt very differently. Does that make sense?
Resources from my toolbox
So, whether you are in transition by choice or by fate, here are some of my powerful resources from my own personal toolbox.
1. What we resist persists. Suffering is enhanced if you resist the inevitable. For example, deep down you know your marriage is over and you have exhausted all your resources, yet you’re still hanging on due to fear of the unknown. The Buddhists say most suffering comes from wishing things were different than what they are. Learn to let go when need be, or be prepared to be dragged.
2. Have tea with your soul. Begin to explore your own Spirituality, your connection to source — whatever that might be to you. What is your WHY!? What gives you meaning and purpose in life and what gets you out of bed in the morning? If you don’t know what it is, this is a perfect time for some deep inner discovery. Spend time unplugging in nature and just being. Oh, and bring a journal.
3. Move your body daily. Do something to enhance the mood, increase endorphins and blood flow to the brain which will boost mental clarity and focus. Dance, Hike, Bike, Yoga or do whatever physical activity you enjoy for at least 20 minutes and commit to it.
4. Avoid future-jecting. Practice mindfulness, the art of being super present with everything and everyone you come into contact with, including yourself. When you are able to be present with what is in the moment, it keeps you grounded in the here and now. Major life transitions can often have a side effect of chronic anxiety and depression. So, working with this simple practice of being mindful can help you stay rooted in what’s actually happening versus the story you may be embellishing in your head.
5. Stop being a control freak. Look at events and life transitions from a place of neutrality. Not good or bad, or right or wrong, it just is what it is. See if you can step outside the situation, and hold a space of being objective and impartial. Practicing non-attachment while remaining open and curious throughout life will give you a much different experience.
6. Create a strong support system. It’s important during these times of major transition that you have a community of people to lean on and to bounce ideas off of. Let the people closest to you know if you are going through a challenging time and remember it’s ok to ask for help.
Parting words of wisdom for you:
While your initial response to change may be massive restriction and intense resistance, remind yourself that this can be a place ripe with possibilities and excitement. So, why not make it an opportunity that holds the space for you to become even stronger and more resilient in life? Shed the old parts of you that may no longer serve you as you step into a fuller, passionate and more purpose driven life. It’s your decision. You always have a choice! Which will you choose?
Corporate Wellness Strategist, Speaker, Stress Management Expert, Thrive Global Contributor
Victoria Haffer’s passion is helping individuals and companies move past whatever is holding them back and embrace all they are meant to be. By helping to identify blocks that are preventing growth, we can begin to rid ourselves of limiting patterns, beliefs, and habits that no longer serve us.
With a M.S. in Exercise Science/Health Promotion and over 30 years’ experience as a Transformation Coach, Business Strategist and Wellness Expert, Victoria will assist you in tapping into your diverse knowledge, skills and genius. In turn, facilitating massive transformation as she has for thousands of others around the world.
Victoria has dedicated her life to helping people find, develop, and manifest their path to prosperity, profitability and productivity. Her mission is to work with any organization or individual that is ready to take powerful action to shine a light on their blind spots and take your game to the next level while shifting from barely surviving to brilliantly thriving!