We have all sat in those first days of college demonstrations. The presenter has a backpack and they talk about filling your backpack during your college experience with things to help you in your career journey. They put in the education; the internships, the skill-sets, the networking groups, the experiences and software. All of these things are meant to set you up for proverbial success. You leave feeling like you will be able to conquer the world with the simple help of the backpack you carry (insert Dora The Explorer imagery).
But what happens 10 years later when your proverbial backpack is brimming, but the journey changes?
You have spent the last 10 years of your life creating the perfect mix of skills and credentials for your path in life, but then CHANGE happens…
We live in a world filled with high-anxiety people. Change is all around us, and most of us are not taught to deal with change, not to plan for change. We are taught to pack our backpack, not how to unpack it, not repack it… So, how do we start without inciting a panic attack?
Accept change as part of the journey.
Understand that without change there is not growth. Without change, we are stagnant individuals living to only a tiny percent of our potential. Change doesn’t have to be scary, change can be growth, change can be good.
As mentioned in the first part of this series, there will be constants in your life (people to help you on your journey), but an attitude of acceptance is also necessary.
Change is not failure. Change is opportunity.
Look for the opportunity in the change.
For some situations this might be easy, but others will be a bit more challenging. Write down the opportunities change creates so you have a visual reminder.
- A new city—Write the positives about the new city.
- A downsizing—The opportunity to learn a new skill-set.
- A relationship ending—The opportunity to make new connections and maybe reconnect with yourself.
Unpack your backpack.
This can be very hard and emotional for some, but it is necessary. You can’t begin a new challenge with a heavy load on your back. You can also enlist friends and family to help.
- Get rid of clothing that no longer fits the situation.
- Clean up your resume up.
- Remove emotional crutches that keep you focused on the past (declutter and donate).
- And lastly, give yourself the time to grieve the loss.
Prepare to repack for your new journey.
This should be the fun part, the part that makes you excited about change. Inventory what you will need for this new journey (long-term and short-term), and begin to rebuild. I usually recommend a list to stay focused:
- New training or educational goals
- New clothes
- New networking groups
- A new home or city
Most of us fear the unknown, which is why change can be so scary, but we should embrace the fact that life is one big unknown. We do not control our futures, we can only control the way we handle the journey.
Life isn’t scary. Change isn’t scary. Change means you are living, evolving, and will make your journey all the richer.