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May 24, 2024

Why Change Is Hard & 6 Ways to Make the Process Easier

Post By:
Kelly Tolliday
In-House Contributor
Rising Nature Retreats
Guest Contributor:

In my last article, I wrote about my journey towards uncovering the next chapter for my life. I felt this calling to step into a new season, a slower season. One where I don’t equate my professional title with my value as a human. One where I prioritize my family (and actually mean it by making choices that reflect this priority.) I didn’t have a clue what that chapter would look like, and it certainly didn’t feel comfortable. 

Floundering in the in-between feels about as pleasant as an eyebrow wax. Not something we’re desperately wanting to do, but we know it’s necessary.

Instead of allowing ourselves to sit in the messy middle and truly learn what this in-between, awkward phase has to teach us, we often try to rush the process, saying yes to anything that gives us a sense of certainty.

It’s like a crab who’s outgrown her shell. She has to physically leave the comfort and safety of her cozy shell, running naked & vulnerable across the ocean floor, in order to find a new home that will fit this newest version of herself. 

After speaking to countless women, many of us are running naked, and none of us want to be seen doing it.

Right now, we are experiencing a collective period of deep transformation, particularly for women. A global pandemic has given us enough pause to realize that “having it all” isn’t actually what we want at all. Many of us are craving a slower pace of life, a downshift or complete pivot in career, extended time to travel and experience the world, an outlet to explore our creativity, more quality time with the ones we love, or simply a deeper sense of meaning and embrace for this one precious life. 

But we find it difficult to settle into that new way of being because we’ve always been told that a person who prioritizes work, career and our professional connections is a person who is valuable to society.

If you’re reading this and thinking- YES YES YES- it’s because I’m right there with you, running naked across the ocean floor.

I’ve heard the call to slow down and make a shift in my career to be able to spend quality time with my very little children. And while I did take a bit of a pause and reevaluated what I truly wanted, I didn’t make enough of a change to overcome the natural tendency I’ve developed to overwork. 

But when I heard my inner voice calling out to me again that it was time to take this seriously, I knew that there was a revolution happening within me that I couldn’t ignore anymore. That’s where the motivation began to write my first Daily Drip article on embracing this in-between phase of my life (read here). 

And after months of floundering, I finally feel like I have reached a sense of clarity in what I want for my life and a grounding in this new identity, the 2.0 version of me. As promised, I will share it all with you.

If you’re struggling with a similar transition, this is what helped me navigate the inevitable awkward phase of “becoming” the new version of me:

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Ride the Tension: This period of transition is supposed to be deeply uncomfortable. Without tension, there is no growth. Without the feeling of being uncomfortable, there is no impetus to change. So if you feel uncomfortable, remember this is a good thing. However, we humans crave control and with control comes a perceived sense of safety. 

Oftentimes, when we are in the process of becoming a new version of ourselves and feel this tension, we say yes too quickly to misaligned opportunities in order to feel like we have a semblance of control. This could look like saying yes to a stellar business opportunity, but one that would take you further away from one of your personal goals or big life priorities. 

When the “what-ifs” or “shoulds” start to come down like an avalanche, see if you can ride the tension out like a wave. Can you sit with the tension within your body and notice it come and then go? Breathe through the inner conflict without trying to fix the problem. This will take practice, but the more you can sit with the uncomfortable feelings, the more you can resist the urge to immediately fix it, the more you will discover that the tension fades as quickly as it came. That’s when the clarity starts to come.

Journaling: I have always found journaling to be an incredibly healing tool when I feel particularly ungrounded and chaotic. When my mind feels chaotic and my thoughts jumbled up, journaling in a stream-of-consciousness style helps me get everything out of my head and into the safety net of my journal. And while your journal entries may look and feel convoluted or confusing, more often than not, you will arrive at an insight or the clarity you’ve been looking for all along. 

Travel & Retreats: Travel & Retreats always give me the space to understand what is truly important to me. It allows us to re-discover who we are at our core - away from the ever-growing to-do lists and social calendars at home. There is space to breathe, to slow down, to immerse yourself in a new way of being just by observing new cultures. For me, travel has always been the ultimate catalyst for personal development and growth, and my five-week trip to Southeast Asia this past winter was no exception. I feel the closest to my truest self when I travel and go on Retreats, and I encourage anyone who is in a transitional time in their life to take the leap into the world of travel and retreats to gain more clarity on who you are and what you really want.

Professional Support: In my opinion, having professional support, beyond your village of friends and family, is an integral part of becoming whole again. To have a completely objective, third party person to check in with and ask you some of the tougher questions helps you see beyond the limited lens in which you’ve been viewing your world. I could not have arrived at a place of peace within myself without my arsenal of professional health care support, including my therapist, acupuncturist, coach, physical therapist and meditation teacher. Whether it be mental, physical or spiritual support, seek out the help you need.  

Finding Expanders: Lacy Phillips coined the term “Expanders” as someone who is living the life that you wish to live, or someone who allows you to believe that their reality is possible for you too. For me, this looked like talking to my circle of friends who took career pauses or downshifts to spend more time with their families. I spoke to them about their decisions, what it felt like and how it had gone for them personally. Watching previously ambitious-career women who dropped down to part-time or no-time and having the time of their life with their kids showed me just how possible it was for me to do the same. So I encourage you to look at the people in your life or in your online circles who emulate the lifestyle you want to live. Talk with them. Ask them questions. And see just how possible it is for you as well. 

Cultivate Curiosity:   Lastly, you get to decide if you will make the excitement of the unknown bigger than the fear. You can use this time as an exploration of what lights you up and follow the breadcrumbs back home to yourself. When I was 18, I had no idea what I wanted to major in for my collegiate education, and so I declared myself as an Exploratory Major. What a gift that first year of college was to be able to take a few different types of classes and explore where my interests lie. 

During these last four months, I kept reminding myself that I was in an “Exploratory Major” phase of my life again, and I allowed myself to try new things, to pick up old hobbies, to test out staying at home more with my kids to see how I fared, and to see how it felt to say no to some truly incredible professional opportunities. This exploratory phase in my life allowed me to declare with more clarity and certainty what it is I truly wanted. So allow yourself this space to explore and to cultivate a curiosity about who you are becoming, what you desire in this next chapter, and the life you ultimately want to live. 

While being in transition of any kind can feel deeply uncomfortable, you must know that you are not alone. Women around the world are taking this time to redefine what success looks and feels like to them. We’re standing up for our health, our time, our families and our freedom to choose how with live our one precious life. 

This is your chance to embrace the in-between. Don’t be afraid to run naked and find your perfect shell to house this new version of you.