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Unexpected Gifts of a New Path

Uncertainty is a staple in life, especially this year. The prospect of having to take a different path than we imagined for our lives can be terrifying. Sometimes, when we're abruptly forced to change paths, our initial reaction involves curling up in the fetal position and closing the blinds.

That’s perfectly ok! I've done this many times, and it can be very therapeutic. Sometimes we need this time of turning inward and allowing ourselves to crumble, before dusting ourselves off and tackling the challenges facing us. But the key is that this time of crumbling is a pause, not a destination.

This time of crumbling is a pause, not a destination.

The word “pivot” seems to have become the buzzword of 2020. Businesses use it to describe how they’ve had to rethink their strategies and services due to the pandemic. To pivot means to change directions but still proceed, and, in line with what I talked about in last week's post - we’ve all had to pivot this year in our personal lives.

Change can be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to defeat us. The more comfortable we become with being uncomfortable, the better we're able to handle challenges with confidence, growing as a result.

One trick that has helped me immensely is shifting my thinking. Realizing that our thoughts have tremendous power over how we experience a situation, being able to shift our thinking becomes an empowering tool.

Our thoughts have tremendous power over how we experience a situation.

When your heart starts pounding as you face yet another challenge, imagine the possibility that the pounding in your chest might actually be excitement about a new opportunity to find something better buried in the rubble. A chance to experience something outside your comfort zone - the place where growth happens.

When something in life isn't playing out how we envisioned, we have a brilliant opportunity to shift our thinking and expand. Ask yourself, "How can this new situation work toward my growth? What’s the lesson here? Is there a silver lining? What does this new path look like? Is there a chance it could lead somewhere even better?”

As I’ve mentioned previously, when I was in my 20’s, I left an unhealthy marriage, packed everything I owned into a van and moved from Indiana to Colorado on my own. A year prior to this, a young married professional, I never would have thought this was what was in store for me. And even though I was making the choice to move away, it wasn't in my "plan" for the path I had laid out for my life.

But what I found on this new path was unimaginable growth, beauty and a deeper understanding of what was important to me.

What I found on this new path was unimaginable growth, beauty and a deeper understanding of what was important to me.

Pivoting and embracing this new direction also made me a lot more comfortable being uncomfortable when the next big change inevitably came along. Because the only constant is change. And change is rarely comfortable.

Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable is like a muscle that grows stronger each time we face the challenges life lays on our path, the challenges that force us to pivot and re-imagine what our life looks like. That’s part of the beauty of life - the more challenges we face, the stronger we become.

But we don’t have to wait for life to throw huge curve balls at us. We can intentionally strengthen our discomfort tolerance during life’s little shifts, so when the big stuff hits, we’re quicker to adapt, bounce back and grow.

Think back to March, when things first started getting canceled. It seemed like every plan we had made was wiped away. The disappointments seemed endless. But, here we are, 6 months later, pivoting much faster and adapting to the continued changes like pros.

Here we are, 6 months later, pivoting and adapting to the changes like pros.

Our teachers are learning new software programs to teach online, reinventing physical spaces to provide more protection for their students, many while simultaneously (and super-humanly) homeschooling their own children. Our kids are figuring out how to learn in a different environment while maintaining their friendships virtually. Family reunions are taking place via Zoom. Church services are being live streamed, reaching people in the safety of their homes. Races are run virtually, alone.

None of this is how we thought our lives would look right now, but the world carries on. WE carry on. Because we have allowed ourselves to adapt. We have faced the uncomfortable and realized we are strong enough to handle it. We have pivoted and pivoted again.

When we look back over the course of our lives, it’s empowering to identify the changes in direction we’ve made, and to realize we didn’t just survive those changes, we thrived.

This time in our lives is no different. We are strong enough. We will thrive.

Xx Jen

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