Recently I coached a young and newly-married client. He and his wife are in the process of relocating to another state where her parents coincidently now live. They are moving from an area familiar and filled with friends and family to a place where they currently have no friends. Additionally he has no job in this new location. His wife is moving for her career. In their marriage this is the first significant and unexpected change.
In times of important change many of us become paralyzed with fear and anxiety. We may even go so far as to dwell on “what if” outcomes… failing to realize that these hypothetical scenarios have yet to happen, all the while dwelling in their potential reality. In times of change, like in many seasons of life, communication is criticle as a means to deepen our understanding of ourselves and our understanding of those around us.
During our last coaching call I developed and analogy to help my client understand the magnitude of his impending move. We talked about how he and his wife dated and got to know each other well enough to decide that they wanted to get married. We explored what that process required… the time, the energy, the investment of various emotions and resources. And then I said to him…
Think about your marriage as a bicycle wheel… this move process is the next spoke on your wheel.
A lightbulb illuminated.
Today my motivational moment is about the spokes on our wheel and how each one presents unique challenges. Each forces us to deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
My client, new in his marriage, has already experienced several of life’s spokes… Meeting his future wife. Dating her. Deciding to marry her.
Now he’s facing another… and it’s a scary one. Moving.
Any time we are faced with great change we have to take charge by fully embracing the opportunity for growth. But… how do we do that when our feelings at the time overwhelm us to the point of paralysis?
- Redefine our personal goals and values. Find time to write down your personal goals related to the impending change. Identify what you want to get out of the situation. Make sure it is observable and measuresble. Be specific about your desires and try not to edit them out of concern for how others may view what you wish to accomplish. This is the time to brainstorm what really matters to you during the change and after the change takes place.
- Share updated goals and values with all key steakholders. Come together with your spouse, family, best friend, coworker, etc. and share your goals and values statements. Take time to listen to theirs. Discuss each others perspectives using supportive language and tone. Be sure to actively acknowledge those things which you can easily and immediately support in each other, as well as things that seem challenging to support.
- Create an active transition plan by collaborating with all key stakeholders. Developing a written plan takes ideas and desires and makes them concrete. Make sure that all stakeholders are involved in the creation of the plan. Strive to honor each stakeholders wishes by embedding action items and means of support into the plan. Revise your plan to make sure that every stakeholder is honored to the greatest degree possible.
The analogy about spokes on a wheel is a point of reference to highlight the “new” that comes into our lives. As our life’s wheel rotates new spokes appear. Sometimes these new life moments are joyful, and sometimes they are scary. Regardless of how they impact us these new spokes are things we could not have rehearsed for. They force us to deepen our understanding of ourselves and our environments.
I cannot promise that facing change will always feel good, or that it will be easy. However, I can attest that no matter what life throws at us there is always a way to approach the challenge with dignity for ourselves and those we care about. As long as we are willing to reflect, share, and listen we can tackle anything we face in life.
Peace and love,