Change can be exciting and invigorating but it can also terrify some of us. Life coach Kate Tilston shows us how to get past the overwhelm and move forward.
One of the reasons I am often sought out for coaching sessions is because people have to deal with change in their lives. It can be a biggie or something small but it feels tricky for that individual.
I find that most people habitually look at the bigger picture and often overwhelm themselves, not knowing where or how to start. Many of my clients have come from a generation that has always had a five-year plan and when a curveball comes in it throws them off-kilter.
We have been encouraged to plan, to set goals for the future, to look at the bigger picture, none of which I disagree with except when it causes you even more anxiety.
Let’s face it, if someone had told us that we were going to be hit with a global pandemic three years ago, we wouldn’t have believed it or if we had, we wouldn’t have known how to plan for it. Sometimes things happen that are just out of our control, they change the lay of the land and we are unprepared and that feels horrid.
So rather than look at the bigger picture, what about breaking it down into little bite-size chunks? How do you do that?
Start by looking at the change you want to make and ask yourself what difference will this make to your life? How will it make you feel once you’ve made the change, once you’ve got over the scary bit?
List the positive differences that you will enjoy by making this change. How will this change impact your life or those around you?
What are the things that worry you about the change? Are they real worries or when they’re written down, do they seem less frightening? If they are real worries, what could you do to lessen the worry?
Does your change affect others? Do you need to be prepared for any fallout? We can’t manage other people’s reactions or emotions but we can be mindful of how we make the changes so as not to cause distress.
If you were to sit down with your closest friend and the end of this year and look back at the changes you’ve made, what would you be celebrating?
Now it’s time to break the thing you want to change into smaller action points.
What small changes could you make now? This can be something as simple as mapping out a timeline to work out what you want from this change and the best way to go about it. It can be starting a small task that gets the ball rolling.
Is there something that you can do that will start the process but not feel overwhelmed? A great example is when you want to be more mindful of your environment, you need to de-clutter and create space. Rather than look at your whole house and ask yourself, “Where do I start?” start with a drawer, a cupboard, something that you know needs clearing but won’t take forever.
Where people make the mistake is to start de-cluttering the whole house and then start various jobs without finishing any of them and then feel completely overwhelmed by the task and don’t finish any of it!
When you have achieved that one thing, look at the next small space. Work from room to room clearing methodically. How does that feel? Less overwhelming?
It can be the same when you decide to change your job or even career. Rather than focusing on the bigger picture or imagining where you can work for the next ten years, break it down into smaller tasks. Write a list of the things you can compromise on or not, for example, I am happy to commute for up to 45 minutes but no further, I have to earn similar to what I’m earning now, I have to have flexible working hours.
- What qualifications/experience do you have?
- What opportunities are available to you at the moment?
- Why do you want to leave your current employment? Is it an issue that could be resolved if you were to talk about it with someone at work?
Once again, break the task (such as looking for new work) down into smaller tasks and deal with each as you go. Ask yourself the questions, jot the answers down on paper, go away and have a break from it and come back to it with fresh eyes. How do you feel?
Change doesn’t have to be scary, if you can break it down and take small steps then it will be more manageable. If in doubt, then outside help is always available. Bite-size chunks and baby steps will lessen the overwhelm and propel you forward!