Change was the defining theme of my 2018, and anyone that knows me knows I dislike change. I prefer hanging out where it’s safe, alongside structure, routine and familiarity.
I walked away from an amazing job, moved my family to a new country, moved in with the in-laws, started house hunting, became self employed, moved industry, started training, had an identity crisis, recorded my first podcast, and trained for and ran 3 marathons.
In short I spent the whole year way outside of my comfort zone and drawing on my resilience.
A sub-zero Central Park new year
January blew in on a sub-zero wind as my partner and I joined the midnight 4 mile fun run around Central Park amid fireworks and frozen cider. At work I’d built a large engineering team at Google in New York City and we’d built and launched a disruptive hardware product. It was my fifth year living in the Big Apple and my 24th year as a tech professional.
But come the Spring we knew it was time to honor better our values around parents and family. These had grown in importance whilst we were abroad and the time seemed right to return home. So I left a privileged job in an amazing city full of incredible friends and came back to something new. It was perhaps the toughest and scariest decision I’ve ever made.
In doing so we had a vision of a lifestyle away from the cities and big tech that I’d always known. It was a bold step into the unknown in service of a life we had talked of for many years.
Countryside identity crisis
We landed in the UK at the start of April, and lived with the in-laws in rural Herefordshire. I started on a new path as an executive coach and began building my own practice; a new job in a new industry.
I’d wrestled imposter syndrome on and off through my years at Google offices, but going self employed in something new was pushing that over the edge. As I started an intense period of professional development I had to deal with an identity crisis, manage my own loud saboteur voices, make conscious choices about how I was going to show up, hold on to uncertainty, and find celebration in failing more than ever.
In short I began a daily practice of placing myself outside of my comfort zone and started getting comfortable with discomfort.
Writing new stories
So as 2018 slips into history and a new now is upon us I can take stock. We are in the process of purchasing the new house in service of the lifestyle we envisioned and honoring the values we came home for.
Today I talk proudly about being an executive coach and I work with real clients to evoke transformation. I’m inspired and privileged to partner with my clients and together explore their values, bold visions, goals and vulnerability. It’s amazing to bear witness to their development and growth, and to be myself in doing so.
It’s been a very big year and I’ve taken a lot from it…
- creating more fulfillment on a daily basis through the year
- appreciating what’s around me in the moment more
- feeling a deeper sense of purpose
- finding a new network of incredible peers
- taken ownership in writing more of my own stories
- trained for and run 3 more marathons, one my slowest, one my fastest
- growing up just a little bit
- showing myself that confidence is not a prerequisite to action; confidence is the result of action
Sure, there’s been sleepless nights, worry, saboteur speak, and some crying along the way, but that’s all part of the territory. There is great learning to be had outside of your comfort zone. We’d be well served to travel there more. It’s a new frontier!
Lessons from navigating change
I’ve spent a huge amount of time being uncomfortable through 2018, and have come to enjoy it in a strange way. Perhaps even thrived. And so I offer ten insights, in no particular order, about what I tapped into to keep me moving.
1. Find confidence in prior experiences
Find confidence in prior experiences that worked out well, or didn’t go horribly wrong. Chances are you’ve already been in this territory before and made it through.
2. Develop resources
Develop resources (inner states) you can draw upon in the moment. There are times I’ve needed to be bolder, to appear more confident, to be more vulnerable, to be with others through difficulty. I’ve worked on building resources I can tap into in the moment to create the mental state I need. I’m really interested in developing resources, and will write on this subject specifically soon.
3. Maintain perspective
Maintaining perspective is important, so even if things don’t go to plan you can live with it. What’s really at stake here? What’s really important in your life?
4. Find the appreciator within you
Find the appreciator within you and call upon it in the hard times. Sometimes it takes practice, but there is always something to appreciate in a situation.
5. Get clear on values
Get clear on your values, and clear on your vision for the future. All the micro actions you commit to are in service of these. When you start sweating the small stuff you’ll come back to values and vision to remind yourself why it’s worth the discomfort.
6. Know your strengths
Know your strengths and play to them.
7. Know how you work
Know how you work so you can find ways to commit to action, even the things you’d prefer not to do. For me this often means brainstorming crazy big scary ideas which begin to desensitise me to the smaller ones, making them feel less risky.
8. Find what energises you
Find what energises or anchors you. For me that’s running. The framework and cycle of training for marathons gives me something to focus on in the now. It’s been a kind a security blanket when I’m freaking out over what’s happening everywhere else in life. It’s also great outdoor time by myself to mull things over or just escape to.
9. Positive relationships
Lean in to your positive relationships for support.
10. Reframe the scary stuff
Reframe the scary stuff in ways that drive motivation. I struggled with suggesting to people they experience a powerful coaching conversation with me. The fear of getting negative responses was enough to paralyse me. But creating goals around collecting a set number of “no” responses appealed and changed how I thought about it.
Beware your saboteurs!
Are you in the midst of life change, about to start out on a new role, or taking on more responsibility? Beware your saboteur voices – they don’t like change and want to keep you out of harm’s way. I can help find the best you to navigate your change.
Book a free, no-obligation, powerful coaching conversation with me today.