Understanding the Four Key Components of Navigating Change
Apr 30, 2012 07:52AM
● By Karen Basmagy
Since ancient times, humans have needed to tap into their creative spirit when faced with the challenges of life, whether finding ways to find and grow food, inventing the wheel or developing cures to disease. All were incredible challenges met with intense desires that eventually became the sparks and catalysts for initiating great change.
At some point in time, while navigating our own personal dilemmas and challenges, we recognize that our extreme emotional or physical discomfort requires us to make some sort of move in one direction or another. The term crossroads describes perfectly where we are mentally at such times. It may also be thought of as the moment when, after much deliberation, we take a “leap of faith.”
Before we reach that place, however, we may find ourselves stuck or stalled, so unsure of which path to take that we pull back and do nothing at all. It often feels safer not to act, which keeps us in our comfort zone, tied to the familiar. Though comfortable and familiar, the status quo nevertheless carries with it an underlying gnawing feeling, an inner struggle and discontent that compels us to make a change. To stay in the familiar is no longer an option if we are to grow. True change is borne of the deep desire for something better, something more.
Admittedly, there are times in life when you must pull back. If your emotions are running high or you are reacting impulsively instead of acting with conscious awareness, having the wisdom to pull back and regroup can be a critical and much needed component to a successful major life change.
Successful change comes when we reach a level of awareness about our decisions and don’t act out of fear, anger or impulsiveness. We acknowledge our fears and anxieties but act with purpose, knowing intuitively we will come through this time in our lives with new strengths, experiences and successes. There are four key components to successful change; by acknowledging them, we can become who we truly want to be.
- The Crossroads This is the point in the journey where the level of tension or pain compels us to make a change. It can be wrought with anxiety, confusion, fear and uncertainty. We are standing at the edge. I like to think of this as a “jumping off place.” We may seek outside support to help us clarify our decision to change, or we may turn deeply inward and use this time as a period of intense self-reflection.
- First Steps We make a move in one direction, but as we start to move down the path we realize there are a zillion forks in the road! Yikes! Our anxiety comes from feeling overwhelmed as we realize there are so many options along the road. We may panic and think about pulling back now, but it’s too late. We intuitively know we can’t go back because we realize that although we feel unsure of ourselves, we may miss something wonderful out there.
- Discovery and Exploration This is a time when we may find ourselves exploring many paths simultaneously, trying to discern which of them have meaning for us and which are just temporary diversions from what we truly value. It can be an altogether scary and exhilarating time as we explore new experiences and gain more knowledge and insight, surrounding ourselves with opportunity and potentiality.
- Integration of Old and New This is when it all starts to come together: We have redefined ourselves and understand how to integrate our new and past experiences into who we are right now. We are still ourselves but richer, fuller, wiser. We can look back on our journey and have an awareness of the interconnectedness of all our experiences, past and present, good and not so good. We also understand that this is just one of many journeys we will take and trust that we can weather each with more wisdom and grace than the one before.
Consider the nature of the transition process itself: How does it relate to your personal journey? What challenges are you navigating in your life? What knowledge have you gleaned from your experiences? Understanding these four components to successful change will help you gain deeper clarity and insight about how to best move forward. Making decisions consciously and with great awareness is key. Don’t rush the process. Although we like to think the journey will be quick and painless, more often than not it isn’t. It’s hard work.
If you are anything like me, having patience and being able to surrender to the aspects of the journey that are out of our control isn’t always easy. We may try to force things to happen. Flow while you go. Consider adopting the “take the time it takes so it takes less time” mantra that a wise horse whisperer shared with me many years ago. It will help you navigate life transitions and reach your goals and desires more smoothly, with a sense of grace and peace, while maintaining the integrity of the relationships with those around you.
Finally, trust that you are exactly where you need to be along the journey right now.
Karen Basmagy, owner of Ripple Effect Coaching, is a professional divorce/life transition coach who assists others in redefining themselves and rebuilding their lives while navigating major life events. She coaches individuals and groups in person or by phone and is available for public speaking engagements. She also partners with horses in her practice, incorporating EAGALA-based Equine Assisted Coaching techniques as a means of personal growth, leadership and self-reflection.