Category Archives: momentum

The change challenge — how to handle stepping into the unknown

Change is a challenge. Get unstuckUntil very recently, I had a day job. It was writing, but it wasn’t really. It paid the bills but it left my creativity account empty — a little overdrawn even.

The job took more than it gave. It gave me numbers on a screen. It gave my family some financial security. But along with my creativity, it took away my confidence, my time, my head space, and my sense of self-worth.

And I let it. For five years.

Dramatic eh?

But that’s done now. I’m freelancing. No more depressing commutes. No more tears. No more sinking Sunday feeling.

So why do I feel so numb?

I expected to feel immediately elated by the change. To feel different from day one. But although I’m glad I’m not at the day job, I just feel overwhelmed, a bit blue and (inconveniently) a little bit stuck.

A change is as good as a rest, they say. But that’s bollocks — real change is scary, confronting and bloody hard work. Because it’s stepping into the unknown.

Here’s how I’m coping with the challenge of change.

Focus on the positive
In the first week of freelancing I had some less-than-average feedback on my work. It had never really happened before and it was a shock. It made me question my drastic career change. I also received three beautiful ‘no changes required, love your work and thanks’ emails. But I focused on the shit feedback and let that define my beginning. Flip it. Embrace the good stuff. Be grateful for each small success. If you’re struggling, write the positives down. By acknowledging only the positive, it becomes the star of your show. The negative fades into the background.

Change takes time
We’re bombarded with media that tells us we can get the perfect job/man/figure in JUST ONE WEEK! You know that’s unrealistic, but someone’s doing it. Right? Wrong. It’s spin. No one is doing it. No one. When you measure your progress during change against a benchmark that’s pure fantasy, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Real, lasting change takes time. Take it step by step and day by day. Give yourself time to adapt. Breathe. Nurture your change and let it grow.

Stop expecting perfection
For 5 years I built up a fantasy of what it would be like when I finally made the change and left my job. It would be perfect. I would wake at 6am to do yoga, meditate, have a nourishing breakfast, be present with my kids, then glide serenely into 8 hours of creatively fulfilling, well-paid and well-received work, taking breaks to sip green tea and snack on super foods. The reality? A little different. My  expectation of perfection wasn’t realised, so I felt disappointed, resentful, angry, unsatisfied and unseen. In the choppy waters of change, unrealistic expectations weigh you down. Release them.

Pin it to win it
This may come as a shock to you but I was once unemployed for a couple of quite depressing months. I put up a proper old-school cork board. I cut out photos from magazines and pinned them up on my vision board for inspiration. It sounds wanky, but it helped. When you’re struggling with the day-to-day of change, it can be fun to visualise your future success.

Keep going
If you want to make change work badly enough, you will — despite the inevitable stumbles and slip ups. Guilt about failure can be debilitating. Be your own best friend. Be kind to yourself, encourage yourself, celebrate your progress, however small. If you persist, you will succeed.

Change is challenging and scary. But what I’m trying to remember is that not changing is even scarier. Embrace the uncertainty. Life isn’t meant to stay the same. There will be highs and lows. Your job is not to control the ebb and flow — it’s to learn to ride the waves.

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Image courtesy of gratisography.

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The secret to scaling the wall of resistance

I’ve got a confession. All the good stuff I’ve been doing to try and follow my heart and make positive change has crumbled in a big, dusty heap. I’m sat in the rubble and I’m a little bit over it.

If it’s ‘meant to be’ shouldn’t it be easier than this?

Have you ever had that feeling? You’re doing all the ‘right’ things. You’re really proud of yourself. It all feels like it’s falling into place. And then, suddenly… it all falls down around your feet, leaving you dazed in a pile of dust.

So when you’re doing all the ‘right’ things and it all feels like it’s falling to shit anyway, how can you pick up the pieces?

And should you?

The short answer is yes. Yes. You should.

When you’re embarking on major change, chances are there’s going to be a big ugly wall in the way, holding you back. Pretty much everyone has their wall – if changing the habits of a lifetime/following your dreams was that easy, everyone would have picture perfect lives (and zero need for my blog or any other like it).

This wall is resistance to change – mostly made up of our loyal friends: fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Your mind isn’t a fan of change. Even if your current situation makes you unhappy, your mind doesn’t mind – at least it’s familiar and predictable.

And the bigger your change and the more important it is to you, the stronger and higher your ‘resistance wall’ will be.

“Sometimes when we try to release a pattern, the whole situation seems to get worse for a while. This is not a bad thing. It is a sign that the situation is beginning to move.”
Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life

So here are a few ways your can knock down your resistance wall, clear the rubble and make way for more of the good stuff.

1. Physically let go
Fear and anger can literally get locked in the body and come out as physical ailments. Screaming in the car (when you’re alone) or punching a pillow (see previous) can be very therapeutic and give you a cracking dose of clarity.

2. Use your imagination
What would you do if failure simply wasn’t an option – if you knew that you would succeed? You’d probably stop procrastinating and get on with doing it. See my post on procrastination for quick and dirty tips on getting stuff done. If you wouldn’t ‘just do it’, it’s probably not the right change for you.

3. Consider the ‘other people’ conundrum
Are other people influencing how you feel about your change? If so, think about where the naysayers are coming from and what their motives are. Are these people the kind of people you aspire to be? Are they living their dreams? Are they motivated and positive? If not, thank them for their input then politely disregard it.

4. Reframe your resistance
The greater the resistance, the greater the potential. More resistance means more awesomeness. Big dreams mean big challenges. Roadblocks just mean that the end destination is more worthwhile and will feel all the sweeter when you get there.

And you will get there. Take a sledgehammer to the wall. Knock it the fuck down.

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In the beginning…

My last post was all about being epic. This one is about momentum. It’s all well and good saying “yeah, I’ll be epic. Easy!” But actually doing something? Now that’s a bit of a challenge. But why? Why is it so hard to actually start something? Not just something – the thing you really, really, really want to do?

Whatever the dream is – starting your own business, publishing a novel, losing weight, becoming a yogi, climbing Everest… writing about natural health and wellbeing (just as an example) – we can be our own worst enemies. I for one spend countless hours thinking up scenarios where things go wrong. How spectacular are the ways in which I fail in my imagination…
You know what? You don’t do, you can’t fail. But you also can’t succeed. And isn’t that worse?
A wise man once said: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” My husband has since fessed up that he nicked it from Goethe. Details. It’s an awesome quote and one I now have over my computer to give me an eloquent kick up the bum. 
So apart from pinning Goethe quotes to my wall, here are my four top tips to help you begin:
  1. Five is the magic number. Whether it’s running for five minutes, writing five sentences, doing five yoga poses, or talking to five new people a day, just do it for five. If you still don’t fancy it after that, give up and try another day. But 90% of the time you’re going to want to carry on.
  2. Breathe. There’s always time to breathe. Try this simple breathing exercise to bring you back into your body.
  3. Schedule it in. Nope it’s not very spontaneous or ‘in the moment’, but it works. Block out the time. Set calendar reminders. Turn off your phone and shut the door. 
  4. Be gentle with yourself. This is crucial. Would you talk to others the way you talk to yourself? Of course you wouldn’t, so stop being so damn mean. If your mind wanders into procrastination or worse, criticism, notice and gently guide it back to the present and the positive.

Right. That’s enough reading blog posts. Get out of here – go forth and begin it.