How to manage a life & work change
When we do something new, our clever brain goes to mega lengths to keep us safe and often that can look like excitement for a while and then for some of us, as reality sets in ... anything from anxiety, to fear, to overwhelm and craving to feel in ‘control’.
It’s these feels that can be present during times of excitement - and change:
- Feeling out of control
It’s particularly natural to want to feel in ‘control’. When we acknowledge our inability to be in control during times of change / learning new things, it actually makes it easier to take on new information.
Our brain gets so caught up in the “omg” feelings of looking for certainty that we can end up not seeing the whole picture and actually miss out on opportunities to slay.
The trick is re-framing our uncomfortable feelings (anxiety, fear, feeling un-sure, adrenaline) into expressions of excitement, as they are both emotions based on arousal. Moving from ‘I’m nervous AF’ to ‘I’m excited to see what I can learn’ can have tremendous impact on our well-being during times of change.
MAKE A CHOICE
At Happiness Concierge sessions, we give students the ownership question: what are you choosing to walk towards, or actively leave behind? By acknowledging we have a choice - and every day is about choices - we become less passive and more active in terms of making actions that actually rock our world. The idea here is to acknowledge what we are leaving behind / past us - by writing it down or saying it - and then focussing on what we are working towards, saying it out loud / writing it down.
In a live setting, we’d ask students to write down on two posits, so if you’e reading this at home you may like to list two columns:
Choosing to leave: an emotion / thought / situation / job they had chosen to leave behind are leaving by being involved in this course.
Choosing to work / move towards: an emotion, a hope or a aspirational job title even.
Now ask yourself: how can you remind yourself of those positives to manage your FEELS and THOUGHTS when you go to those unhelpful places? What if you texted a friend? Told your partner? Wrote it down? Asked for *GULP* help?
REFRAME THE UNCERTAINTY TRAP
Seth Godin, in The Dip, describes the highs and lows that come from a new venture, creativity or in fact doing anything new. It’s this idea that when you come to expect the dip, you can acknowledge it, then crack on with focussing on the upward trajectory.
Looking at this in a workflow, it looks a little something like this:
Deciding to do a new thing = our reward function goes into the excitable zone
Eventually, as we get used to this feeling or it requires more from us, we experience a competency dip ‘can I really do this!?’ We may feel uncertain, anxious, question what we are doing or even feel like quitting.
The greatest growth / impact comes from pushing through the doubt section - acknowledging it is our brain trying to convince us we are not safe - and making a decision where we are going next and cracking on with it.
In HC classes, we encourage students to ask themselves about what they’re experiencing when they’re feeling awesome about their new project / venture / decision, what they experience when they feel uncertain (as we all crave certainty), and what they could do when they’re in that uncertain ‘yellow / red’ phase and tactics they could employ to get them out.
Three questions can be really helpful:
How I feel when I’m feeling good about this process:
How I feel when I am unsure about this process:
- ‘Can I really pull this off?’
- ‘I don’t want to let anyone down’
What could I do to get the support / manage myself to get back to feeling good when unsure?
- Text a friend
- Face to face with one of my faves
- Engage an Advisor to funnel my fear to a balanced opinion
REMIND YOURSELF OF YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS
I’m guilty of this one. I get so wrapped up in the ‘got to do’ that I forget to stand back and audit my achievements. For the purpose of this exercise, we ask students to ask themselves three questions:
- What have I achieved so far in this venture / decision?
- What am I most proud of?
- What am I excited about?
These three questions ask us to consider not what we HAVEN’T or CAN’T done - but to positively reframe our clever brain into remembering: look how far we have come.