Mel’s Guide to Change
|July 27, 2017||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
How well do you handle change?
I find it easier with practice. Nowadays I’m less paralyzed in an unsuitable situation, unable to leap off the cliff into the unknown until pushed.
When considering the types of life change generally considered “the biggest” such as marriage, having a kid, and career changes, I think career changes are the hardest. There are lots of choices, lots of opportunities to doubt and second-guess, and where you work is such a HUGE impact on the quality of the rest of your life.
The first time is always the hardest. Quitting a career job to go back to school full-time and get my DVM was THE WORST. I think the only reason I was able to take that step into the unknown was because at some point in the past I had said I was going to vet school, I had started the ball rolling in the application process, one thing led to another and now voila! I was in and I had told all these people I was going to do this thing and now it was time. It was still my decision in the end to walk away from that job – but it was made easier by the weight of being accepted into vet school behind me.
A couple of weeks ago I walked away from one sector of veterinary medicine and accepted a job in a different sector.
It sounds so simple, but emotionally it was complicated. It was complicated in the same way as walking away from the unbearable pre-vet-school job (that used to be a good fit) to attend vet school was.
It is incredible difficult to explain the conflict and emotional turmoil, because in hindsight it was an obviously such a good decision. Still, in the moment it feels like jumping off a cliff – although with practice the cliff gets smaller and smaller.
While it is fresh in my mind, I thought I would share some of my strategies for handling major life changes.
- A job (along with where you live, and who you live with) is THE major factor of what else you can do in life. How can I do all these crazy things like run 100’s and ride horses? I have the right job. When I sit down and evaluate my job and it is THE major factor in preventing me from doing the everyday things I need to do in order to accomplish my goals, even if that job used to be perfect, it is no longer perfect. Either my job needs to change, or my goals do. You can guess which I am more willing to do.
- It can be really helpful to have larger life goals written down prior to making any big transitions. Some how seeing those words on the paper that *I* wrote of where I was going in life helps calm and focus me during transition chaos.
The goals in my life right now depend on having some very basic things – as much trail time as possible, pay off my student loans (for a lot of complicated financial reasons I won’t go into here, I need to pay them off), a flexible work schedule. As perfect as the private clinically practice was a year ago, in the last 6 months it was painfully obvious it didn’t support any of these goals.
- I remember and cling to the above when I’m in the middle of the transition. Because no matter how “right” the reasons are for making the change, in the middle of the change everything is so topsy-turvy that it’s hard to remember why I’m doing this to myself. Was it really that bad? It’s so much easier just to stay put. Can’t I make it work? My rule during big transitions is that I do NOT make major changes of direction. I continue on the original path I set out for myself, trusting that I made the right choices for the right reasons. The hard part the first couple times is differentiating between normal transition chaos and panic, and “you are definitely making the wrong decision” warning bells. In fact, I think you can’t tell until you have been through a couple big transitions. So what do you do? Do solid prep and research prior to the transition, and then anytime you are tempted to give into internal pressure during the transition, talk to someone you trust that if familiar with the situation. Ideally someone who has made major transitions themselves.
Sometimes it’s possible to “dip a toe” into the change before committing to it fully. Six months ago I took a spay and neuter position and reduced my time at the private practice. My quality of life improved SO MUCH even though I was working more hours per week and instead of missing private practice, I found myself continuing to dread those clinical days more and more. This was another piece of proof for me that I was going in the right direction before committing to the BIG change – quitting the W-2 job that was 20 min away in order to commute over an hour and be self-employed.
- It’s NORMAL to feel panicked. It’s NORMAL to question whether it’s a terrible mistake. It’s NORMAL to not feel like doing anything at all except sleep, eat, and be a vegetable as the brain attempts to sort and reorder everything again. Sit tight, trust in your decisions, live in the present, and go to bed early.
Right now I’m not blogging, riding, or running. What the heck was I thinking?????? Can I really do spay neuter day after day? I gave up my half day off to make this change!!!!! I just completely screwed up my taxes and I won’t see any financial benefit from this change this year. OMG what have a done? …..All of which I’m ignoring. Because I know that it’s only been 2 weeks and the dust will settle and the 3-R’s will happen again because I realistically evaluated this change with THOSE THINGS IN MIND – it’s just transition chaos. It’s never as good as you think it will be financially when you switch jobs – and that’s fine. Projections look great. Sometime in the near future my brain will have processed all this new stuff and I will not need a million naps to function and life will resume.
In the end, “life after” is so great you wondered why it was such a big deal to jump off the cliff in the first place!
Probably related to this post somehow, but my brain is pretty fuzzy right now, so can’t figure out a way to gracefully segway from the above concept to this one.
I’m taking a step back from endurance for a while. I’m not sure for how long “a while” is. I also can’t convince myself whether this is part of the transition chaos or a real thing. However, the thought of planning and conditioning for endurance gives me ZERO pleasure right now, in contrast to running ultras. While running the Tahoe 50 mile run it felt so GOOD to be out there, I was so happy. With the horses it’s just non-stop stress – getting my conditioning rides in, having everything go south this year, Farley’s surgery, being really unsure about how to take ML to the next level. Ugh. So playing it by ear and taking the pressure off.
All I can say is that you are incredibly brave. Best of luck! I look forward to hearing how it all works out!
Thanks so much for this post Mel. I’ll likely keep referring to it.
This is so well timed. I needed this this week.
Very nice post on something that is probably difficult to put into words. The path forward is very windy and often not clear, but it is nice when we are able to see, with hindsight, that it was the right way to go.
It was a hard post to write. It just wouldn’t flow from my brain like they usually do, but in the other hand I really felt like I needed to write it. I appreciate you all looking past some of the syntax errors and general brain fuzziness and appreciating the content!
It’s so important to step back and make more time for ourselves when we need to. Cutting out passions and breaking from them for a short or long period can be SO HARD though. Ugh. But I can say from experience that I’ve never regretted taking that step after I finally balled up and did it. I always have been able to return to the “paused” passion with renewed interest and enjoyment after taking time for myself. Cheers to you, lady, and I hope you find renewed passion in horses when you need it. For now, I hope you find all you need and more from the facets of your life that fit with your career and growing family. <3