How to Manage the Grief of Change

I was sitting in a pew anticipating a wonderful performance from a women’s choir. It had been a while since I sat in a pew—I used to do it every single day growing up and let’s just say, it was a lot. So, I’ve replaced hard church pews with muddy paths surrounded by trees and that’s where I go to church. Either way, I was feeling quite at home in this pew and excited to see one of my favorite women perform. She spotted me from the side and ran over quickly to hug me, “I cannot believe you are here”. “Of course I am here,” I replied with glee, supporting women is like the best drug ever.

She stopped by at intermission to tell me of her latest adventures in quitting her job and seeking more freedom and authentic alignment in her life. “It’s just like you said it would be. There has been so much mourning in quitting, I cried for the first week”.

When we met several months ago to talk about the itch she was having to move on with her life, I graciously shared with her the secret no one talks about when we “make the shift and finally go after our dreams”. There is a ton of grief; the old us has to die for the new us to be born, and with all death comes a grief period.

How do I know? Because I experience this mourning period each time I level up. When I left the entertainment industry for an opportunity in Seattle, I cried for a month in my new apartment staring at all of my California things. When I moved back to the midwest from the west coast to slow down and start building my coaching business, I spent hours on my yoga mat with tears billowing down my face each morning. When I turned down the renewal of a big contract last year to go all in on my coaching business, I had a few weeks of grieving. It is so natural to have emotions around change. What I hope for all of my readers and clients, is that you don’t let the anticipation of those emotions keep you from trying.

So, what would that mourning period have been like if I had known it was coming? How much more at peace would I have been if I would have had a name for it and been able to anticipate those feelings a little more? And, how many more women out there are thinking about leaping and don’t know about this mourning period? How many of you are actually afraid of just that; that you will make the changes and it won’t work or it won’t feel “like you think it should feel”? And I am here to tell you, that it might not feel so amazing at first. I don’t say this to scare you—I say it to prepare you because your nervous system is going to need some time to catch up to the change you are introducing, and it can get rocky.

Here’s what to expect when you make the change and the ways to manage:

You will have a voice that tells you that money is more important than how you feel. This narrative will inspire fear and complacency and it is a capitalistic value that we all live with each day. As someone who has made good money and often times not had very much at all, the money does not make you feel better if it is coming from a place that is not aligned with you. Money is energy, when you leap for yourself the money comes. Does it come in stable monthly deposits into your bank account like that cushy paycheck? Absolutely not. But the amount you need to continue chasing the dream comes and it propels you to the next stage because when you leap, the universe leaps with you. If you are thinking of leaping and have financial fears, purchase this book: You Are a Badass at Making Money and please for the sake of your future, do the exercises.

You will have an identity crisis. You might wonder who you are, and if you matter in the world. You will have a loop in your brain about how sad you are that you actually left that “thing” behind. “How irresponsible I am for doing this,” you will tell yourself. “Will people even like me or respond to my calls if I am not longer X?” You might even apply to a few jobs that look a lot like what you did before and seek that ego “validation” from someone wanting to hire you. Here is the deal, you’ve got to do the mindset work that makes you wanting to bet on yourself enough validation to do so. This thing you are about to do, it is you vs. you and it is a journey. Stop measuring things in time—time is not the data point here—your joy, emotionality and your impact are the data points that matter most, because this is your LIFE. If you are having an identity crisis take one of your sad days on the couch and listen to this interview with author of The Alchemist. If you haven’t read the Alchemist, it’s time.

A lot of people will worry about you and talk to you about their worries all of the time. The people who love you are going to doubt you because they are afraid you are going to hurt yourself by chasing a dream. They mean well, they love you after all. They have no idea what it is like to be you and they do not realize that their doubts are poison. You’ve got to change up your network. You cannot be spending a lot of time with doubters, it will kill your confidence. You have to find the people who are also taking leaps and doing what it takes to live a more meaningful life.

Scared people, people who hate their job and just complain about it, people who are not willing to change to feel better, they are kryptonite to your dream.

It doesn’t mean you stop loving them it just means they cannot be your only support network. You’ve got to level up the fuel you are allowing into your life; the food you eat, the amount of exercise you get, the narratives you allow to come through, the entertainment you consume. All of it is informing how you feel and whether you believe you can do this thing—so consume things that make you feel better and stronger and more capable, including your relationship consumption. Can’t find people in your area who are taking risks like you? Start by following some of these out of the box people who will give you fuel to keep going: Rachel Hollis, Gary Vaynerchuk, Connie Orlando.

You will try stuff and it won’t work and it will make you feel like you have no idea what you are doing. Can we have this on repeat please? “Real growth is trying and failing and trying and failing and then succeeding and then trying again.” I have so many people who come into my coaching programs and they are SO FREAKING HARD ON THEMSELVES about not knowing everything. How in the heck can you know everything? That would make you a computer with a google search engine.

You are a human who has experiences that have brought you to this moment, the only way to gain more experience and knowledge is to try things. You might launch a product and it fails, but it will lead you to that product that actually makes money in the marketplace. You may do some marketing and get nowhere, but that will show you what not to spend your time doing. You may take a job and wake up in six months and think, “No freaking way”, excellent, pivot quickly with confidence. You may invest in an area of your business or an outsource that fails you—great—they failed you and you might have a tough quarter but it will bring you closer to the decisions and partnerships that are going to work.

Depression might get you down for awhile and you may have no idea what to do next. I am going to be really honest here, sometimes grief pushes us into a form of depression. Maybe you wake up wondering what to do with yourself. Maybe your only motivation is to watch your favorite TV show. Honor your depression with love and care. You are literally letting go of an identity that has served you in so many ways and there is so much to be thankful for in those experiences and who that person was for so long. She got you here, ya know? But saying goodbye to her is hard, it is maybe one of the hardest things you will face, right up there with actually losing people that we love.

Your nervous system is catching up with the change, it is adapting to the new reality and trying to understand what is happening. This might require rest and a lot of down time. This is when micro actions toward your dreams are going to really serve you. Don’t build a task list that is a thousand steps long. Make one goal a day. Do one thing a day that moves you closer to where you are trying to go. The depression will lift eventually but not without you giving it it’s time. Not sure how to organize your day in micro steps? I am a big fan of the EVO planner. It helps me organize my day in microsteps that are connected to my bigger picture and it allows me to track the data points that matter: my joy, my emotionality and my impact. Order yours now.

Chasing your dreams is the bravest and scariest thing you will do. Deciding to change your life and live on your terms will force you to face some hard stuff. Stay patient, stay humble and enjoy the ride—all emotions are telling you a story and paving a path you can reflect on with pride down the road.



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