It’s not news to any of us that the pace of change is increasing exponentially. In fact, mere ‘change’ isn’t enough for many budding entrepreneurs – success can only be acknowledged if entire industries and ways of life are ‘disrupted’.
Technological advancements in the financial industry are dramatically changing the landscape. Some jobs are already disappearing and with Artificial Intelligence capabilities increasing exponentially, more jobs will fall away.
So. What to do? How can we thrive in this world?
There is a frenzy of articles, books, training and coaching on the market to help us become nimble, more responsive to change, able to continually adapt. By all means, dive in when you’re ready.
But for right now, I want to get a little bit quiet and talk about the emotional fallout, and how to navigate our way forward in a connected, grounded way.
There’s no doubt that when something that you take for granted about your daily lives suddenly changes, it can shake you to your core. A loved one passes away. Your daily commute grinds to a halt. Out of nowhere, someone says ‘I don’t love you anymore’. You’re down-sized or fired. The electricity stops working. A server crashes. You have to move.
Any one of these situations can be so jarring that you don’t know where to go from there. And heaven help us if we have to face more than one of them at a time.
Why does it feel so overwhelming?
You’re stuck in a binary moment.
There’s your ‘before the change’ life and your ‘after the change’ life. In this binary state, you’re disoriented and in shock. You’re not ready to accept the new reality, and that can lead to paralysis.
The cascade of practical implications.
Tucked into our ‘before the change’ life are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of comforting routines and relationships. When we got up in the morning, we knew what to do and where to go. Even if we occasionally longed for change in certain areas, there was enormous comfort and stability in those predictable routines. Now that’s gone. Basic things need to be figured out again.
This goes without saying. Any significant change – even a positive one – comes with loss. Loss of convenience, routine, expected results. Loss of income. Loss of relationships, emotional support, camaraderie and community. Loss of the familiar.
Loss of identity.
This is a big one. Depending on how much our identity was enmeshed with our ‘before the change’ selves, a big disruptive shake-up of the status quo can leave us feeling like strangers in our own lives. How much of your sense of self was attached to your job? Your relationship? How much of your self-confidence and pride were linked to your personal introduction at networking events? I’m a wealth advisor. I’m Vice President of… I’m the CEO of…
When I decided to leave music after twenty years of being a professional singer, I struggled with feelings of failure and loss of identity. I was so used to answering the ‘What do you do?’ question with ‘I’m a singer’, that not knowing what to say instead made me dread those moments. It took a while for me to separate what I do from who I am.
Since we know that change is now a permanent feature of our modern lives, we have a choice. We can try to muscle our way through; constantly running on that treadmill, trying to stay one step ahead of the game, constantly tapped into fear and adrenaline. Yuck! I get exhausted just thinking about that!
OR… we can choose a more self-loving way forward.
Here are some tips to build self-comfort and care into change so that we can, not just cope, but continue to thrive:
Pull your sense of identity closer to your centre.
Instead of having your sense of self attached to outside things which are always subject to change, take some quiet time to reconnect with the core of who you are. What are the personal qualities you are most proud of? Kindness and generosity? Creativity? Insatiable curiosity? Determination? Zest for life? Reaffirm those qualities. Circumstances may change, but you are still you. Find a way to exercise those qualities in a meaningful way, and you will feel grounded in who you really are.
Connecting deeply to your own core qualities and values means that you can move forward in any direction, and experience a sense of stability and strength. You may not know your next move, but you know who you are.
Let yourself grieve.
It can be tempting to pep-talk yourself out of feelings in order to quiet the anxiety. And practically speaking, you may just need to be taking action and getting sh*t done. Maybe you’ve got people depending on you and slowing down to feel seems like a ridiculous luxury.
Regardless, take seriously the importance of finding an outlet for the emotions that are brewing below the surface. Change often comes with sadness and fear. Those emotions are energy that needs to be released so you can move forward. Get out of your head and into your body. Find a safe place to scream or rage or cry. We are whole human beings and treating ourselves like so many units of production is cruel and unhealthy.
Once you’ve moved this energy through, you’ll find your creative and problem-solving faculties awakened and solutions will appear.
Find new comforting routines.
This can be fun! If you’ve moved or changed jobs or left a relationship, old connections and haunts may feel off limits. That’s okay – find new ones! Be an adventurer in your new locale. Find a new favourite coffee shop, pub, lunch spot you can call your own. Find a new gym you love. Take a bit of care to set up your new personal space in a way that is pleasing and comforting.
Pick up a new favourite sweater, pair of jeans and/or ‘Muskoka dinner jacket’. Go for clothing that literally feels like a hug waiting for you after a tough day. After a day filled with challenging decisions, just knowing you can go home and put on your comfort clothes is soothing to a soul battered by change.
The old things we are used to anchoring our lives to are in flux. Many ways of living are fading away, being replaced with the unfamiliar. If we go within to find deeper, more timeless anchors we can face the future with peace, confidence, optimism and strength.
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Kira Callahan is an expert sales conversation coach serving the financial industry. Her private clients typically experience 30% – 100% increase in appointments and business booked. Click here to find out more about Kira.