Many of my clients are facing incredible transitions in their careers and are facing tough choices about what to keep and what to let go. It’s a natural human tendency to want to hang on to what is familiar even if it’s painful or no longer working, but in my experience hanging on too long eventually becomes more painful than facing their fear of letting go.
My clients’ effectiveness in navigating change is dependent on how willing they are to objectively examine their situation and their willingness to let go of what’s no longer working. This is more of an art than a science, as there aren’t any hard and fast rules about when or how to let go. After years of guiding leaders through A LOT of change, here are a few ways you can tell if letting go (or at least examining the idea of letting go) might be the right thing for you:
- Your body isn’t happy – maybe it’s weight gain/loss, illness, injury, or drained energy. Either way, our bodies tend to know what’s up before our minds do, so pay attention when your body is speaking to you.
- Your bottom line isn’t happy – when sales drop off for no “good” reason, contracts end and/or products fail are all times to stop and reevaluate what wants to be let go.
- You’re not happy – pay attention to mild depression, lack of motivation, escape fantasies, and lack of optimism. When you notice you’re feeling different emotionally (beyond just a day or two), it might be time to see what wants to be cut loose.
- Things are hard – hitting your head against a wall is overrated. Remember, your natural state is one of flow and ease. When things get hard, stop, lift your head, and look at what might need to be shifted.
My clients are tenacious, hard-working, intelligent people, yet nothing messes them up faster than needing to make a change. I tell them repeatedly that working hard and staying committed is not their issue. Whether it’s changing direction, letting go of employees or leaving their job, their issue is the likelihood that they’re going to hold on too long. Here are some ways you can infuse a bit more artistry into the next change you need to make:
- Keep focused intention: Keep your eye on the vision of what you want, especially if you don’t think it’s possible!
- Take the very next action: Don’t get overwhelmed by the “bigness” or the unknown of it all; just take the very next step you know to do. This is a practice of staying present with what is unfolding in real time.
- Remind yourself you’re expanding: When I’m in big transition and my reptilian brain is freaking out, I remind myself that I’m expanding and in the midst of growth. Change is not always a tidy process and keeping it in context is important.
- Connect with something larger than yourself : Have it be nature, the Universe, God or people who’ve passed away, whatever it is for you, ask for help, guidance, support, and grace. You’ll be amazed at what happens when you ask!
Remember that change isn’t always easy, and it’s truly an art. Just like an artist working on a new piece, be mindful of who you take feedback from while you’re exploring your options. Your transition is an amazing time of possibilities and expansion. Keep only your true supporters close while you’re in the transition; then once you’ve solidly landed in your new phase, you can decide whether you want to allow critics to review it.