Pull The Trigger — Making Big Life Changes
It’s a strange feeling walking away from a place that you’ve invested so much of your time and energy into over the past five years. Making the decision to leave a workplace feels like an adventurous and exhilarating decision when your making it. And it is, but don’t overlook the moment when you you say your goodbyes and walk out the door for the last time.
Leaving all my work, documents, desk, computer and IP (which doesn’t belong to me anyway but feels like it should) behind as well as all the people takes some time to sink in. The colleagues who I probably see more than my kids, the clients I see every week, the suppliers. From that moment, when I walked out the door yesterday, our relationship changed. Some will remain as friends, others as acquaintances, and others as not much more than memories. Sure you can maintain relationships but not on a day to day basis like that. It’s confronting.
As much as you try not to pin your self-worth or your identity on “what you do,” it can certainly shape who you are. Especially during a particularly difficult time in your organisation.
As I reflect back on who I have been while doing what I do, I have mixed feelings about that person. If I could see myself in third person, I’d like to think I’d observe someone who is relaxed, easy going, a fun person, confident and capable. Someone who people look up to.
I’ll admit that through challenging periods I haven’t been that guy. I can see someone who at times has been way too serious, insecure, unapproachable, conservative, stressed and unmotivated due to set backs. I don’t like to admit that, but I’m honest enough with myself.
Everyone has a breaking point. And while we might never actually reach it, we can slide up and down the breaking point continuum and start to become aquatinted with that place. The place where the level of shit can only pile up so much before all you want to do is get away from that smell. It effects who you are being (not who you are, but who you are being). The traits that shine through when you are staring, unbeknownst to your inner voice, at breaking point are probably not your most favourable.
On the flip side, the great thing is that everyone also has a reset point. Whether it takes a life changing event to inject a fresh perspective into the everyday, or simply a decision. At any time you can change who you are being through the choices you are making and the stories you are telling.
Tell a different story to a new person. You can be the person who gets up at 6am to do yoga three times per week, and feel invigorated. Be the person who walks out the office door at 5:15pm each day knowing that you have done all that you can do for that day and now it’s more important that you invest yourself into your relationship with your children. Be the person who smiles when they walk into work rather than churning through the mental to-do list in your mind whilst blankly saying hi on your way to turning on your computer.
For me right now, it’s a big reset. I made a decision, pulled the trigger and am in the middle of making it happen. Starting a new job and moving house all over the space of a few days, whilst balancing that with existing commitments, my wife starting a new job as well, my son starting at a new school, finding tenants for our current house — and it goes on.
Managing the big changes
I’m under no illusions that it’s going to be smooth sailing. The task list already seems endless. However, here are my three suggestions (for myself and perhaps you) to manage an impending reset.
- Prepare mentally. Put time aside to prepare your mind. Journal. Stop. Think. By just giving myself the chance to reflect and prepare mentally for what’s to come is the first step to managing the change. Get in the zone and let the words/thoughts flow. Not the to-do list but the feelings, the emotions and the relationships. Some of the questions that I’ll mull over include variations of: What’s my perception of how the rest of my family are coping right now? What am I feeling about the big picture? (eg. excitement, anticipation). What thoughts am I struggling with?
- Create a mantra — to focus your actions and guide your approach to the change. Like a mini vision statement that will sit in the back of your mind giving you direction when you’re under the pump. For me it’s: “Do my people-work first and my paper-work second.” This applies to my new work place but also to how I approach this adventure with my family and friends. I find this reminder super important when I’m focused on a task because my mind won’t stop to give someone my full attention. This mantra is a constant reminder to do that.
- Schedule time for an outlet — a positive escape activity. Creativity and exercise are the most obvious for me. If you play an instrument, make the time to play some music from a period in your life that you look back fondly on. Even listen to an old album from that time, it will put you right back in that head space. If you like to paint, do craft, build things, write, make sure you carve out even a little time for it. It will really help to ground you and help you see the big picture of life whilst getting away from the details for a moment which exhaust your mental energy. Likewise, exercise can have a similar effect on your psychology but also the physical benefits are a huge offset for stress.
So the next two weeks are going to be huge for me. But right now, I’m excited and ready for the challenge.
Pull the trigger, you’ll get through it, and most likely be better for it.