life coaching

The "Lost and Found" of Transitions

The end of something is often the beginning of a transition, the transition from what we know and is familiar to us, The Known, through to The New. Lost our job. Lost our relationship. Lost our health. Lost our home. Lost our community. Lost our way.

Feeling Lost and Feeling Loss-ed.

Feeling lost can be overwhelming, a mish-mash of feeling loss and what I call feeling “loss-ed”. Feeling the losses in our life, the losses of who we are, like a part of us is missing. Feeling confused, conflicted. Feeling empty. Feeling grief. Sometimes it can feel - unbearable.

Feeling lost in a foggy swirl of thick overwhelm filled with confusion, numbness, chaos. Wanting to protect ourselves, hiding under the covers with a cup of tea, or vodka, or a bag of chips, maybe a carton of ice cream. Wishing for a moment of clarity to nudge us, to awaken us from our comfortable or not so comfortable stupor.

Landing in the Unknown, in mid-space, unsure of “What’s next?” “Who am I now?” “Who am I without it / him / her?”

Some part of us that wants so badly, is working really hard for things to be normal again, to find the “next”: the next relationship, the next career, a new home, a new lifestyle. Sometimes we force ourselves ahead into the “new” or “next”. It takes Trust, the kind where we trust ourselves and our process.

And, the finding!

Swimming in the ocean, we can see the shoreline, suddenly a wave comes from nowhere, the undertow tugs us, pulls us underneath so that we feel as though we may never come back up, like we cannot find our breath. Until we feel something, something within pulling us up, and we see tiny glimpses of land coming into view.

manswimminginocean
manswimminginocean

Those tiny glimpses of clarity, those moments when they peak through, they are what we wait for, what we hope for, what we wish for — the excitement and relief of finding. When we feel even a little bit ready, there are many ways to starting finding “the next” or “the new”:

Read a book about it — biography, fiction or how-to. Read newspaper, magazine or blog articles about your "next". Watch a related film - documentary, biographical or fictionalized - or simply for joy. Move your body to move your thoughts — swim, walk, dance, whatever works for you. Commune with nature - spend time outdoors for relaxation, well-being and sparks of creative ideas. Create a fort or sandcastles with your kids or some kids. Take a workshop on something that fascinates you. Make art. Make music. Take an improv class. Brainstorm a list of what is important for you in your “next”. Declare your intention, be it tiny or large. Acknowledge what you are learning, your disappointments and wins. Connect with others who are experiencing it too. Discover new resources and share them.

No matter where you find yourself, in the place of lost, in the place of finding, or in the place of found, appreciate being wherever you are in your process. It is the building of your resilience muscle and the magic of being present to what is possible, that is transforming.

Create A Gift Box — For Yourself! Part Two

In November 2013, I wrote a post called "Create a Gift Box — For Yourself!" A month later, I received a gift from a dear friend and colleague, Lynnette Rumble of Aim Coaching, who had read my blog. She told me she was so inspired that she gifted her family, friends, clients and colleagues with a personal gift box filled with blank pieces of brightly-coloured paper. And that included me!

DSCN0787
DSCN0787

Turns out that this really is a great gift! I created a tool to appreciate the present, to take steps, and to inspire personal action.

Oftentimes, taking action can feel like a long list of to-do’s and obligations resulting in, you guessed it, procrastination. No matter whether we are forced into a transition of some type - career, retirement, residential, health, relationship - or whether we are planning to make a change, taking steps forward can awaken and stir our Saboteur’s negative self-talk and self-limiting beliefs. Using tools, strategies, and supports are helpful to get us out of our own way. This is where the “gift box” comes in.

So back to my personal gift box — where and how to start?

The first step was to make a decision about how to use my gift box of notes. I played around with options and ideas, and decided to write a daily note, recording something I wanted to celebrate, acknowledge, or appreciate about that day. It might be an insight, an action I took or accomplished, or what I felt grateful for. I wanted to include my core personal values so that I could track the ones I was honouring most (and least) often.

I now had a small box with squares of blank note-paper. I needed to figure out the next steps: where was I going to put my written notes? And what would I do with them once I had handfuls and more?

Tools are important, even necessary, in helping us to take action. When they are really good, the tools themselves can inspire us to explore and learn. Why not also use tools that are fun and lighthearted too? I decided I wanted mine to be colourful and creative too.

Being a huge fan of old-school pen(s) and paper(s), I used a large canister to hold my written notes and a large sheet of bristol board to paste them on. As you can imagine, seeing the colourful notes pile grow and the board fill up is very rewarding.

Creating Your Own Gift Box - Tools
Creating Your Own Gift Box - Tools

In both life and transition coaching, taking action is important as is the reflective process that comes with taking that action step, or in the attempt to do so. This is when we deepen our self-awareness of our Saboteur and our deepest self. And this is where personal growth happens.

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” ~ Margaret Wheatley

After six months of writing almost-daily notes, here are some of the things I have experienced so far:

  • reconnecting to what it is that I am committed to,
  • realizing which personal core values are being honoured, and which ones are wanting more attention and focus,
  • noticing when I am and am not in integrity,
  • taking responsibility for my life, my relationships, and my dreams,
  • taking steps to make my dreams come true, for example, planning and booking my dream trip,
  • saying yes to thrilling opportunities,
  • experiencing a new fun tool that helps me coach myself,
  • learning what I need to tweak it so that it works for me, and
  • acknowledging and celebrating the baby steps that I am taking.

Wow! Reflecting on this list of what I have already gained from this process is powerful. It takes me out from the daily details and tasks to the big-picture meaningfulness, importance it has in my life.

I will return again with another update and more reflections. In the meantime, have you created a gift box for yourself yet? I'd love to hear from you if you have or if you want help getting started.

What is your body telling you about your work?

Waking up in the morning feeling unrested, pushing the snooze button a couple of times, wishing more than anything that it was Friday or better yet Saturday. Forcing yourself with all your might to get out of bed and start the washing and dressing rituals to get to work. Ugh. Work. You just know that something is out of whack here. We know how closely our bodies, health and work interconnect. We can tell after spending many hours working. And we can especially tell when we are not feeling good or even really bad about our careers or work.

Health doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It ebbs and flows with different life events, with positive and negative experiences. Certainly stressful work environments and relationships can wreak havoc on our physical, emotional and mental health.

There can be many moments during our work or career history when neither our body nor our health feel well and robust.

Sometimes it can happen because we feel bored and not challenged enough. For many of us, boredom is not conducive, maybe even harmful, to mental, physical and emotional well-being.

It might be because of our work hours. Working challenging shifts or long hours can be draining and taxing on our health.

It might be because of the physical environment where we work: no windows, no fresh air, poor lighting, tiny office spaces or little if any privacy.

It might be because of the social environment where we work: our boss or colleague is abrasive, maybe adversarial. Challenging work relationships can be stressful for our emotional, psychological and physical health.

It might be because of our work lifestyle. Not enough routine, not enough predictability, or too long a commute. Our work lifestyle can be wearying on body and well-being.

Some of us feel so stuck in our jobs, in our careers, in our lives that we are sick of it. We feel sick of it. And we sometimes become sick from it.

Our body might be telling us to make a change. Perhaps it is even yelling at us and forcing us to make a change — for our physical well-being, our mental health and sometimes for our very life.

When our work is stressful, unsatisfying or unfulfilling, our body lets us know pretty quickly. It usually speaks to us — through our sleep, our gut, our breathing, our emotions or a lack of vitality — only we do not pay attention or choose not to attend.

Sometimes it feels easier to stay with what is familiar and the status quo, stay silent and ignore, avoid or deny what your body is telling you.

The body is a powerful messenger. It has deep wisdom and knowledge that we can access at every moment. What change might your body be telling you, asking you, whispering to you, even screaming to you to consider. Are you listening?

What is your body telling you as you commute to work or get ready to start your work day? Maybe you feel anxious or uninspired about your workday. Perhaps your shoulders are hunched over, ready to protect you from the onslaught of abrasiveness, meetings, or deadlines.

What is your body telling you mid-day? Maybe that your legs and back are needing to move and stretch. Maybe that you feel tense or that your thoughts or emotions are in overdrive or overwhelm.

What is your body telling you as you leave your work or workplace? Maybe it feels tense or depleted, overstimulated or bored into super-comfort-zone.

Listen to the wisdom of your body. It knows. Its wisdom is true. It will guide you to take steps, to take care of yourself and your career.