As an individual who is learning to be in leadership of your life, times of change do not give you a rest from the responsibility for finding a path forward. You may be tired. You may be in ‘change overload’ or experiencing decision fatigue. Your emotions may be reeling from the constant change and its accompanying loss. Loss always accompanies change, even when the changes may be experienced as positive or insignificantly small.
Moving from Overwhelm to Forward Movement
I had a basic formula of assistance as a mom, when members of my family were stuck and were in change overload as people and situations brought about changes in their lives.
Pause and notice
First pause. You may not have time for a long pause, so a short pause will have to do. Take several breaths. Declare to yourself and to others around you that you are in a state of ‘pause’ to take stock of the current reality, the current situation. As you do this, simply notice, bringing aspects of the current situation to your awareness.
Pause for as long as is needed to notice what is actually true once the emotional response has passed.
Are you satisfied?
Once you have familiarized yourselves with the current state, with what is, you are ready to examine whether you have satisfaction with the current state continuing along or not? Answer this question without blame or judgement about whether the current state is bad or good. It is a task of discernment sensing whether the feeling is satisfaction with what is or dissatisfaction. Period.
If the answer is that there is satisfaction with the current state, the path forward is to leave things as they are. You will get that belly feeling of satisfaction that all is well. You can now declare the pause over and resume your day.
If you’re dissatisfied
If there is dissatisfaction with the current state, do you have interest in developing a new reality for yourself? If there is interest, are you willing to initiate the work that it takes to develop the new reality? Willingness is stronger than simply interest. You will feel a surge of “I can do this” rising in you, even if you don’t yet know what your path forward is going to be.
If there is willingness to create a different reality than the present one, you are in a state of readiness to make changes to your path forward. This starts by figuring out what will create satisfaction. If the path forward needs changing, what is the new goal? Where are you headed?
Know your objective
Sometimes the goal is a small change. One simple and small objective that will create increased satisfaction. This starts a shift happening and a new path opening up for going forward. Even a simple step forward opens up possibilities that were not evident to you before.
And sometimes the goal is bigger. It might be possible to understand all of the steps – the objectives you need to accomplish to begin on this new path. Consider taking numerous small steps, with small objectives if you don’t have energy for more than a small step. Every small step creates a new reality.
The hardest part is often moving yourself forward without blame or judgment about yourself.
Celebrate every step
As you move forward on the path – whether it’s the original path where you discovered satisfaction or the new path that is intended to create satisfaction – remember to celebrate! Living within a culture that is often focused on always achieving the next goal or objective, it’s especially important to slow down and celebrate. Whether it’s a small acknowledgement of a simple step taken or a bigger celebration when achieving major milestones, celebration is key.
When we celebrate forward movement, it builds self-esteem. It reinforces that forward movement is possible. And it helps to reinforce a life-nourishing culture that includes gratitude and appreciation. Celebration can also help to prevent decision fatigue.
Creating a New Path for Groups, Teams, and Organizations
The same formula that works for the individual also works for groups of people, such as teams or families, or even whole organizations of people.
- Pause and notice
- Without blame or judgment, discern whether the current state feels satisfying of dissatisfying
- If satisfying, the path forward is to support the current state; if dissatisfying, the path forward is to determine if there is interest to change
- If there is interest, determine willingness. Definitely don’t miss this step as a separate step from determining interest
- If willingness is established, the path forward includes finding new objectives, even if the objectives are simple steps forward
- Every step that shifts the feelings from dissatisfaction to satisfaction warrants celebration
Try it the next time you’re noticing overwhelm or a sense of dissatisfaction with how something is unfolding.
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