Letting Go to Lean Into What's Next

Even after 15 years of coaching, I'm always fascinated when the same topics come up with clients in a short amount of time. I certainly noticed that in the last month. Whether it was moving into a new role at work, moving to a new city/state, getting a divorce or wanting to up-level their life in some other way, there was one thing in common with so many of my clients this month.

That thing was....

wanting to skip over some of the transition process in order to get to that new place faster. 

Change vs. Transition

I remember when I first learned about the difference between change (an external event) and the transition process (the internal process we go through when a change happens that allows us to navigate the change). 

I was living in Finland teaching at the university. I had survived the first year of teaching (a new career for me) to advanced students. Now that I didn't have to focus on just getting through each class and I knew I could actually do this, I started to feel lost and confused. What was I doing here in this foreign country after all? 

Nothing seemed to make sense.

A dear colleague at the time saw and heard my struggle. She was also someone who had moved around a lot and recognized what I was going through. She recommended the book, Transitions, by William Bridges and it explained so much.

Bridges discusses the 3 (non-linear) stages of transition: Endings, Neutral Zone and Beginnings. I have my own names for these: Letting Go, Swimming Sideways and Creating the New. Here's a blog article written a while back focusing on Swimming Sideways. I'll cover the Creating the New stage in a future newsletter.

As I spoke to my clients this last month, I noticed them wanting to rush right into creating the new without remembering there were some things to let go of first.

Stage One is Letting Go

When we experience a big change, whether it's one we chose or one that 'chose' us,  there's a redefinition process that needs to happen. We're redefining who we are - stepping from one role or place or circumstance into another. That means that even if it's a change we want, there's a feeling of loss - of something tangible or of a part of ourselves.

For me in Finland, through all the worry and work around trying to start this new career, I hadn't let myself process the loss of the old life I had left behind. Even if I knew that I wouldn't be in Finland forever (that was never the plan), I still needed to really let go of the 'old' life before I could truly lean into the new one and where that would lead me.

And this has been the theme with my clients. In so many of the circumstances, I could hear their challenges lie in the fact that they were still in the 'old'. They were trying to adjust and jump into the new, but there were some things they needed to process and let go of in order to really embrace this new chapter. 

As I introduced the topic of letting go and we explored this, I could hear them relax a bit. They were able to see what things and parts of themselves they no longer needed. Sometimes this felt liberating and other times, it felt sad. Ad all of those feelings and emotions are a natural part of the process.

Over to You...

So your invitation, whether you are currently in transition or want to learn from a past one, is to tune in. 

What do you need to let go of (or what did you let go of or could've let go of) that would allow you to truly experience this new chapter?

Change and transitions are so rich. They can also be super challenging when we don't honor the process. And when we do, there is an opportunity for growth and even magic every step along the way.


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