Sunday, May 4, 2014

Embracing Change One Step at a Time

I'm a sucker for a good story. I cry at well-done documentaries. I plow through memoirs of joyful lives and epic adventures. And I often ask people to tell me the story of their own life, or at least their most vivid memory. I seek story after story.

It's rarely about the happy ending. For me, it's more about the moments of change, big or small, shaping them into who they'll become. You can see their stories whittling away at their character even when they can't see it for themselves. Change fascinates me. It also scares the hell out of me.

This week, change has been permeating my own story. I've embraced it with a mixture of anxiety, excitement, anticipation, guilt, and worry. Hard to imagine all those emotions swirling together inside one person, but it's how I deal with a big change. I start by sucking at it. The excitement and anticipation of the new is blurred with the anxiety and guilt of letting go of the old. 

How does one (okay, I'm speaking more about me here) get through change? How do we embrace it in a healthy, productive way without becoming a hot mess? 

Here is what I've learned from all the stories I've ever had the privilege of hearing along the way:

1. Seek wise counsel. A trusted friend, a prayer partner, a parent, a mentor, or anyone who can give you sound advice and a better perspective--stick to them like super glue! When you're emotional, as change often makes us, a person to keep you grounded is key.

2. Take one step at a time. I'm a control freak. This means I constantly seek what the big master plan is for my life, and it would be even better if it was all printed out, color coded, and spiral bound. Guess what? Life isn't that neat and tidy. When in doubt, just take the next best step. It's enough...for now.

3. Wholeheartedly embrace it. Take a deep breath, blow the worry out, then embrace change with gusto. Change is needed because we cannot live a great story without it. If we have no twists and turns, direction changes, ups and downs, rollover-and-play-dead-but-then-get-back-up, we are living the worst kind of story. It's the one that no one cares about.

I put a lot of expectations on myself. I'm my worst judge and my hardest critic. Change brings a lot of unknowns that I can't control. That's okay. I know in my heart I can't live a better story worried about the worst-case scenario. Neither can you. 

Starting now, I'll only be looking forward to the excitement and great anticipation of what is ahead. It's shaping me. I can feel it already.