Recently, I made a conscious choice to move from sunny California to snowy Vermont, and as timing would have it, I drove across the country to my new home in January. When I received the keys and opened the door, it was confirmation that this was exactly where I was supposed to be and that I’d made the right choice.
I grappled with making this decision for many reasons, but ultimately I knew it was the best one for my family and me even if it appeared like chaos and a major upheaval. Before I made this decision (and just as I coach my clients), I allowed plenty of time for critical thinking and to sit with the unfolding as I made space for more information to be revealed. From the very start, I chose many key tools (that we also teach to our clients) to help me stay anchored as I pondered my next steps.
As you consider a significant change, it is helpful to be mindful of the following:
- Pause, take your time; allow things to play out and for more information to come forth, which gives space for your best thinking and decision making.
- Appreciate the knowledge you have, and the many things you can do each day and can control, and surrender to those things you cannot control. Know life goes on either way.
- Embrace what life teaches and what you learn about yourself as you move through change. It adds to your confidence and clarity about who you are as a whole person.
- Breathe; be present today, right now. Remember if you feel powerless, you are not being mindful or present in this very moment, today. Yesterday is the past and tomorrow is the future—you are only able to make decisions in this present moment.
Also consider the following questions and use your answers as your anchor:
- Anchor thought: “How do I want to show up while change is happening?”
- Anchor thought: “When I do this, what impact will I have on myself or others?”
- Anchor thought: “Is the timing, my resources and abilities aligned to the end goal?”
With all of these key tools, I was able to mindfully approach this move with my best thinking intact. I discovered a myriad of open roads, and many choices had to be made along the way. Just like life (and work) presents to us, the roads may vary and are not always as expected. The course sometimes has to change, but when you know how to stay anchored in the outcome you are going for, pause and allow yourself plenty of space for decision making you can navigate the unexpected.
On my journey, I remained mindful of how each road brought me closer to my end goal even though the path wasn’t a straight line—and I welcomed it. Granted, I turned around a few times—and took in the experience—the freeways with heavy traffic, two-lane highways with interesting landscape and viewpoints, curvy country roads with locally owned cafes. I opened myself to a few conversations with strangers and a glimpse of Americana that I don’t have every day.
I’ll admit that I could have done without the “stop and go” driving on roads under repair, or those short miles with potholes and gravel, but there is a degree of satisfaction I feel within myself knowing that I didn’t react to it. I chose to let up on the gas, be patient and take my time. That learning remains. “Letting up on the gas and taking my time” is more than often a good thing that I can easily apply in all of life.
As I drove across the country, I began to realize that the roads were symbolic of the variety of changes that life presents. I knew it was within my control to choose my intention for the day, and to choose realistic expectations of myself (offer self-compassion), and to appreciate and connect positively to all that the miles of the day offered.
In the moment, in the middle of nowhere, it also occurred to me that the only impact I was making was on me and my day, and that felt both empowering and calming. I noticed my breathing, and I breathed in deeply, and as I let it out, a small smile of peace and contentment crossed my face. I was present, living in the moment, and I anchored in a level of acceptance—I was confident I would be okay with the changes on the road, whether the next tight, steep bends were difficult to drive or not.
Choosing mindfulness brings security, and eliminates the potential stress an unknown situation can cause when moving through change and the unknown. On the road, I encountered people and a snowstorm that had an impact on my situation. As expected, some were helpful and others were not, even with brief questions about the area. But I was there for my every step of the way. Being present and being okay with not knowing exactly how the drive will go or how my interactions will go, is putting mindfulness into real life practice.
I knew my intention was to get out of the snowstorm before dark, and fortunately, within a few miles, the highway dropped in elevation and there was no snow. I felt a degree of relief as the sun poked through the clouds, because I was on a road I had not driven before. Tensions have the potential to rise when we’re in the middle of something we’ve not experienced before.
When you are in a situation where there’s no turning back, then like me, you choose to drive forward, even when faced with the unfamiliar. There is no way around it. Accept that change can be a challenge and a teacher to us as we break out of old habits and enter into the new.
During change, your awareness will be raised to the next best thing that happens for you when you live in mindfulness today. You will find yourself saying, “I am really okay in this situation.” Living in choice is key, while simultaneously considering the impact of your choice. Sometimes you might choose the hard path, while someone next to you chooses an easier one.
During all of life’s cycles of change, have self-compassion. Be kind to yourself if you need time. Negotiate and make new agreements with yourself, because expectations don’t always play out.
Surrender what you can’t control… let it go, to “let things be” is a practice and a choice.
How you feel within yourself is what’s important and getting to a place where you say “I am okay with this.”
In all things there is choice, and asserting that choice during change can be comforting and satisfying.
When I saw the sign, “Welcome to Vermont” I felt inner relief. Knowing I was almost there, hands on the steering wheel, I noticed my breath. I was calm and happy. A new place, new environment. A bigtime change! I smiled with satisfaction. Like so many things, this experience is a vivid reminder that serves a purpose—it keeps me inspired to be courageous to seek change in my business life and personal life. The same is true for you.
I thought about some of what I had learned about myself along the way that added to the confidence of my choice:
- Being present in every situation increased my fulfillment.
- I was open to the inevitable learning.
- My own experience of change put my teaching into action.
- Choosing mindfulness served as my guide as I drove the miles and journeyed on.
When I finally reached my destination, I stepped out into the snow in the driveway, walked to the door and eagerly turned the key. I walked through my new home and took it all in. I didn’t rush it, I enjoyed the moment.
Life is happening now. How will you be present for it at each moment?
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