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Change: Do you Do It? or Does It Undo You?

By Connie Butler

It has been said that change is the only constant. Change is all around us every day and every day our lives are changing. It can't be avoided. We can't bury our heads in the sand or a favored pillow and pretend it isn't there.

Sometimes it creeps up slowly: over time we've gotten older, gradually the kids grow and leave, incrementally our health fails. Other times it is thrust on us: out of the blue divorce is upon us, our work demands that we relocate, we are moved from one level of success to another. Or sometimes we wake up and realize we have to make a change: we have all of the money and lifestyle trappings we want but something is not right at the core, we are not where we want to be at this stage of life, we can't see what is next.

Change is like the water that our lives are held in and the question becomes do you know how to navigate your boat, yacht or life raft into and through the current of change to the best place possible? When you don't navigate the waterways well you can be lost at sea for much too long, your resources and dreams are depleted, you can be reduced to just existing. Recovering from an experience like this can be costly, eat up valuable time and leave you jaded or disillusioned. Your life energy is sapped. And you are left confused and fearful.

But change can be the great awakener. In retrospect it can be the best thing that ever happened to you. It can contain rewards that you never dreamed of. But in order to access THAT level of change you have to be the captain of the change. You have to muster all of your internal and external resources, all of your navigational skill and make it work FOR you - whatever the change is.

If you don't do something new in the face of change you often merely create the same outworn results. If you don't change your strategy you repeat old patterns of behavior and thinking. You miss the larger possibility and you don't create the life you really want for yourself and your family.

One of my current clients is a woman who came to me during a huge health, financial and relocation crisis. Change was upon her, big time, on almost all levels you can imagine. She had a recurrence of a cancer-based disease; she had to move across country, her finances were scarily low. In our work together she has moved from that place of deep insecurity and confusion to a place where she is settled, more at peace with herself than she has ever been and is now growing a remarkably successful wholesale business. She is fulfilling the dream of the kind of business and life she has always wanted for herself. She could never have done this without the right kind of support and she is the first one to attest to that.

Another client has suffering from divorce and loss that was blocking her from finishing her dissertation. She was stuck in self-doubt, procrastination, with no vision of the future. She is now close to finishing her dissertation and the last months have been exceedingly rich and empowering for her. Visions of her next steps are forming. She is excited about possibilities where previously she could not sense a direction.

Both decided to take change and make it work for them. They found the support, accessed the resources and built the determination that was needed to navigate into a current that is moving them clearly and safely forward. In looking at their process and that of other clients I have seen a progression of steps that occur when you are moving through change. As the change happens you normally...

  • Choke - This is the time when you feel overwhelmed, confused, fearful and often do nothing. Spending too much time in this phase can seriously undermine your energy, usurp your resources and make it more difficult to deal with the change.

  • Handle the Hurdles - You wake up and realize you have to do SOMETHING, sometimes anything. Occasionally people in this phase can see the priorities and begin to handle them- more often they avoid the most important issues in an effort to just do something.

  • Access Support - This is the turning point. You realize that you cannot do it on your own. You need a trusted ear. You require someone who can see through the confusion of the change and help you build a viable plan of action. Albert Einstein said that we cannot solve a problem on the same level at which it was created. In order to find that other level you need someone who can look at the whole picture, someone who isn't clouded by the emotional responses, someone who has your best interests in mind.

  • See New Possibilities - Embedded in each change is a possibility. If you continue an old pattern of behavior or thinking you will miss it. Unfortunately we are often myopic when it comes to recognizing creative solutions. This step requires someone to help you see and hold the larger possibility, the picture that you may be missing.

  • Grow to the Next Level - This is the part that many people skip over. If you do, the whole gift that is at the center of the change will elude you. In order to do the change , make it work FOR you, it is essential that you develop the qualities, the skills, and the heart to effectively work with the change. As you do this you begin to recognize whole new levels of satisfaction and power within yourself. These developments are yours - you will use them in everything else you attempt in life. They become second nature.

  • Enjoy - This is the fabulous stage when you can step back and look at the whole experience you have been through. You recognize yourself as the prime navigator of the change. You can feel the sun of success, the warm breezes of pleasure as you begin to really enjoy where you have arrived. And you know that if needed you can navigate change again.

If you are going through a divorce, or if success has been yours and you still find yourself unsatisfied, or if there is a new change that has occurred or is on the horizon, give yourself the gift of the effective support and mentoring that will move you through it... to the warm, safe harbor you desire.

Connie Butler is a personal and professional coach working with individuals and groups to clarify their greatest vision and cultivate its successful realization moving them past their growth frontier into new territory.

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