Change is a part of life. We all know that. But do we champion change and actively put it to work in our lives? Sometimes we can be so busy responding to the many changes outside of our control that we lose sight of how strategic change can actually be.
In thinking about a practical example for this, I thought about where change can be the most disruptive, especially for women. One place that is true is our “nest”. Whether those changes are planned and even celebrated does not mean they are not disruptive in ways we didn’t count on or struggle with as we move forward in our lives. Our changing nest – and for what we’ll be talking about here, our empty nest.
Our children growing up: heading to college, moving away, getting married. It doesn’t matter who you are – this can be a very unsettling time. Our whole lives can seem to shift. No matter how much we’re celebrating, within that change there can still be a sense of loss.
Let’s talk about why that might be and break it down. I call it the 3 R’s of our nest dynamic:
Relationships – Responsibilities – Resources
In my own life I can see this so clearly in hindsight (that rearview mirror!). There is a relationship dynamic that definitely shifts. Our children are always our children, no matter how old they are. But they become someone else as well. They become another adult, even in some ways, a peer. That relationship can bring a very different energy.
When we think about responsibilities, quite often we’re really talking about purpose. We’re so used to living our daily life at every level based on being responsible for their daily life. When that responsibility shifts, it can bring with it a loss of purpose. What will we do with ourselves?
And those resources! Our time, money and energy! When the priorities begin to shift, we often fail to recognize that how we leverage these resources also needs to shift.
It is here where we begin to learn and embrace the POWER of Permission, Perspective and Possibilities. Every change is an ending and a beginning. Every time our life progresses to a new season it brings the ending of something we know so that we can replace it with possibilities that were not there before. Think about this in terms of actual seasons. We can’t have winter and summer at the same time in the same place. And there are things that are unique to each of them. So it is true in our lives.
The truth is though that we may not want a season to end and that can be our first hurdle. To get through to the point of permission, perspective and possibility we have to first allow ourselves to grieve for what is left behind. How we do that is as individual as our fingerprints. But it is essential. The most effective approach for this is quite simple: Gratitude. Once we commit to seeing everything through the lens of grace it becomes much easier to live from a point of gratitude. This isn’t just a platitude and I also don’t think it’s valid to say that we have to be grateful for everything. It’s not realistic. But we can always be grateful for something. And that’s the difference. Focus on what we can be grateful for and the rest becomes much easier to carry.
There are also some other very practical things that we can do that will help us re-feather our nest we will cover in part two of our discussion. I’ve come to think of them as life practices or personal strategies. What makes them powerful is the fact that they are a part of our everyday life.
The key question is always this: What does this make possible? That is the essence of resilience and how we move with grace to what we create next in and with our lives.
Live (change) today like you want tomorrow to be. Live (change) well!