How to Stay Grounded when Facing a Storm of ChangeHow to Stay Grounded when Facing a Storm of Change https://jasonlauritsen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Blog-Banner-1.jpg 1080 608 Jason Lauritsen https://jasonlauritsen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Blog-Banner-1.jpg
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been wrestling with something internally, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but knew I’ve not quite felt like myself.
There’s an unsettled feeling that I can’t shake. It’s not unlike that moment when you lose your balance and you hover in that space between regaining balance or falling.
This has been making it hard to find my creative spark when I need it. My work has been a bit more labored than usual.
The point is, it’s not been an ideal place to find myself. I’ve not felt at my best. And the hardest part was that I couldn’t figure out why.
As our tiny white cheagle (it’s a thing, Google it) took me for a walk yesterday afternoon, it finally hit me why I was feeling the way I am.
There’s a lot of change coming for me.
The kids wrap up another year of school today and my middle child moves on to high school next year. High school represents a major transition for her and for us.
My wife is running for state legislature (yes, she’s exactly as awesome as this sounds). We had positive results in the primary, so now the stretch run begins. If she wins in November, that represents a dynamic shift for our family.
My business is also at the beginning of a transformation. While the details may not seem that dramatic to someone on the outside looking in right now, it feels pretty substantial to me.
And, as I wrote about in my last post, we lost my grandmother recently. She was the last of her generation in my family, so a transition is now underway. Holidays and visits home will never be the same again.
If all that wasn’t enough, I scheduled a minor surgery next week that promises to have some significant positive health implications for me moving forward.
It’s a lot. At least it feels that way to me.
As I look to the future, the view is less clear than it has been in quite a while. Uncertainty is thick in the air like fog. This leaves me feeling a whole mix of conflicting emotions: hope, excitement, anxiety, concern, anticipation, and so many more.
This is what I’ve been feeling. A soup of emotions created by the headline of my life right now.
Change is coming
Once this realization hit me, I recognized it. I’ve been here before.
It’s a strange place to be, existing in a space where things feel “normal,” but knowing that very soon, things will begin to shift in significant ways.
It reminds me of the hours before a big thunderstorm arrives. The sun is shining in the east and a soft breeze blows as dark clouds build in the western sky. It’s coming, you just don’t know how soon or how much disruption it will bring with it.
Most of the time, the storm simply makes some noise and brings much-needed rain. But, the anticipation and uncertainty in the time before it arrives feel the same regardless of the impact it leaves behind.
This has been a reminder to me of the complex relationship we have with change and the toll it can take on us. And perhaps more importantly, it’s not just change itself but rather the anticipation of change that impacts us.
Regardless of how much you tend to embrace or resist change, you are not immune from its effects.
Preparing for Change
Every one of us is either dealing with change or anticipating some just over the horizon. Particularly during the past few years, our lives have been defined by relentless and steady change.
As both individuals and leaders of others, we must recognize that change is playing in the background of our lives like elevator music that we’ve tuned out. It’s always there and always playing a role. And if we don’t acknowledge the impact it can have, we can find ourselves struggling or burning out.
While I don’t claim to be an expert on change, here are a few things I’ve learned about what helps in times like this, whether it’s happening to you or someone you care about.
1. Acknowledge that change is coming.
Once I realized yesterday that it’s all the coming change that’s making me feel unsettled, I started feeling more grounded.
Just calling out the fact that things are going to change makes it easier to both talk about and prepare for it. It’s when we overlook or ignore what’s coming that it’s most likely to harm us.
This is a great thing to remember as a manager or leader. When we avoid conversations about impending changes, it actually makes it worse for everyone involved. As humans, when we don’t know what’s happening, we assume the worst.
Even when you don’t know what’s going to happen or how you are going to respond yet, it’s okay to talk about the fact that change is coming. Bring it out in the open and reassure people that you will navigate whatever comes together.
2. Lean into relationships.
It’s never as scary to face uncertainty if you are doing it with someone else. Just the knowledge that you are not alone in your journey can make a huge difference.
Even before yesterday, I’d been struggling with the transitions I’m making in my business. It’s all exciting and exactly what I need, but it’s changing and it’s uncomfortable in all the ways it needs to be.
I’ve been sharing my struggles with friends and in return, they offer encouragement. They help me reframe (i.e., “you are experiencing growing pains”). They listen.
Relationships are the bedrock of a healthy, happy life and career. This is why it’s so critical that you invest time and energy into building and sustaining great relationships in all areas of your life.
When your people know you care about them and that you’ll be there for them, the clouds forming on the western horizon don’t feel threatening. That support allows us to look for the promise and opportunity in the coming change.
Never underestimate the power of “together.”
3. Control what you can. Let go of everything else.
When there’s a lot of change on the horizon, things can start to feel very out of control. It is in these times that I have to anchor myself in the things I can control.
First on the list is my well-being. While I don’t know exactly what the next 6-12 months are going to hold for my family and me, I know for sure that I’ll be best able to navigate the path if I am healthy and strong. This is 100% within my control.
Once I’ve refocused on my well-being, I ask the question, “what can I control?”
When things feel out of control, I’ve found that the key is to let go of what I have no influence over and focus instead on what I can control.
This typically brings into focus some immediate steps I can take to move forward or to shape how things might look in the future. For example, my daughter is moving on to high school, whether I like it or not. My main fear as this transition happens is how our relationship might change. I’m worried about losing connection with her.
While I can’t control what’s going to unfold next year for her in high school or how she’s going to change as a result, what I can control is what kind of time I spend with her now to reinforce our relationship. The stronger foundation, the less likely it will be to crumble.
As a leader, when things get crazy at work, one of the most powerful things we can do to help our people is to coach them on letting go of what they can’t control and focusing on the things they can.
This is a game-changer.
Change is Inevitable
There will never be a time in our lives when change isn’t a part of our experience. There will be times of less and times of more. But it will always be there.
The key is to embrace its presence and learn how to ride the wave in a way that frees us from the anxiety and reveals the opportunity hidden within.
While that felt lovely to type, we both know it’s far easier said than done. This isn’t easy, but the more you practice, the less challenging it will feel.
Acknowledge that change is coming (or happening), lean into your relationships, and control what you can.
The rest will take care of itself.
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In the thick of it too! Between big life periods to a career change, I was feeling the unease as well. I love how you pinpointed the need to acknowledge it. This is such a huge step! Realizing that even if the changes are wanted, desired, and even needed, we can still feel major unease around it all. Giving ourselves some grace during this time is huge. And quite frankly, I’m not very good at giving myself that grace! Thanks for an honest post Jason!