FirstSpark blog by Ashley Ward
I recently completed an exercise at the suggestion of an executive coach and it caused me to pause and reflect on the nature of transitions, on change in general and the impact it has, big and small.
I made a BIG life transition this past summer. My family sold our home in the Chicago suburbs and moved to the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas. We came here to be close to one side of our family and to experience more of life outside in the warm sunshine. At the same time, my work is in Chicago, where I travel to regularly. This change has brought about those outcomes and many more…some anticipated and others that could not have been imagined. We are still settling into a new normal and the past seven months have given great insights into what it means to live intentionally and embrace all that life has to offer.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned through this journey. The executive coach asked me to take the word “T-R-A-N-S-I-T-I-O-N” and come up with a word/phrase, using each letter, that represents what I’m experiencing and learning about myself through this season of change. I hope there are some nuggets below that resonate with you since we all face changes, of one nature or another, on a regular basis.
As you read, I invite you to think about a transition you are moving through now or use it to help you reflect on where you have been…
T – I have come to a much deeper realization that transitions/change, especially ones that are significant in nature, “take time.” And by that I mean they take more time than I would have ever imagined. I’m still transitioning and I’ve heard a move like this (to a new state) takes at least a year. Agreed! I’m at the seven-month mark and I’m still in it.
R – I’m sitting with and learning to “respect” the transition process. It does not happen overnight, it ebbs and flows - like the ocean tide I find so rejuvenating to watch. I’m almost able to step back a bit and watch this tide come in and recede. Inhale…exhale. I’m curious to see what new goodies the incoming tide is bringing me to wonder at or pick up and observe more closely. There have been a few gems I’m using as reminders of this time and what else is to come.
A – I’m finally getting more comfortable with “asking” for help. Our family down here has stepped up tremendously now that I, too, travel for work. My husband has traveled regularly for years and my schedule has added a new dynamic to our family routine. I’ve had to humble myself and ask for help from strangers, professionals and very new friends so I can get the intel on all manner of things I don’t know about down here.
N –I love change and I love to try “new” things. This transition has brought that about in spades. I’ve been intentionally open so I can fully embrace the “newness” and relish it, instead of letting frustration and fear creep in.
S – The most profound lesson I’ve learned during this time is the power of “simplifying.” When basic necessities are met, I want to be grateful and stay focused on the simple acts of being with family, enjoying the sunshine or the cool breeze as well as relishing the monthly travel back to the office in Buffalo Grove, a mere 1000+ miles away.
I – I’ve been relying on my “intuition” more and more and how it can be trusted when I need it. It’s been an unanticipated lifeline.
T – A focus we’ve had at Charmm’d more recently is “transparency” with one another and our feelings. This has proven to be timely, as my transition has impacted the team, too. Our commitment to being transparent with one another has prevented negative outcomes that are created when assumptions are made without verification.
I – I am a self-professed extrovert and I’m openly embracing a season in my life where I’m going “inward” more and more and doing soul-searching on a level I’ve not experienced before.
O –I choose to view this adventure as unfolding “opportunities” everywhere I look. There is so much that’s possible in life when you really turn it on its end. I would have never thought I would feel as connected, or even more so, to my work when I’m interacting with people virtually. I also anticipate the opportunities that come from in-person meetings and gatherings with colleagues and friends like a child looks forward to their birthday. Face time with people is a gift that I never want to take for granted again!
N – A surprising and valuable lesson I’ve been learning lately is the benefit of staying in “neutral” and not being quick to judge or label my feelings, others or situations. This is really hard and it can be life-altering because it creates space to be free from expectations or having them of others, which can be draining and easily leads to disappointment. Being in neutral creates an openness to new perspectives and the possibility of being surprised at every turn. This anticipation allows for joy, wonder, confusion, loneliness and excitement as it leads to learning, reflection, perseverance, hard work, new habits and lots and lots of growth.
I invite you to reflect on how transitions are currently impacting you or have impacted you in the past.
When the last time you experienced a major life change and what impact did it have?
What surprised you?
What offered reassurance?
Who stepped up, in unexpected ways, to help you navigate the transition so you knew you were not alone?
How did your life change because of the transition?
What did you learn?
What do you wish you knew before the transition occurred?
What advice do you have to share with others about seasons of change?
What opportunities does change bring about for you?