Crew Coach: Don’t let the anxiety of change keep you from the exhilaration

Feb 21, 2019 by Rob Gannon

Crew Coach: by Capt. Rob Gannon

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy. For what we leave behind us is part of ourselves. We must die to one life before we enter another.” – Anatole France

I believe this quote captures the essence of what is behind our fears, reluctance, and the very process of change and transition. For the past 10 years I have been working with and coaching folks around this process of change. Some come ready for change, some come thinking they are ready, and some are just kind of thinking about it. Wherever we are on the change journey, can we understand and accept the melancholy? Can we leave behind a part of ourselves?

One of the major factors in the dynamic of change is it can feel quite paradoxical. We can feel opposite forces working on us as we try to navigate our way in these new waters. Change will create excitement, but also trepidation and anxiety. Every step forward may call for letting go of a past belief or habit. On top of that, the act of learning something new and creating change can be a whack to our self-esteem.

We may have been in a career for a long time and feel comfortable and confident in our knowledge and abilities, when we suddenly find ourselves in a new field with a whole lot to learn. Doubts can creep in and they will try to take over the ship if we don’t squash that mutiny. It can be quite a mind tussle. Doesn’t this sound like fun? OK, maybe not – but I can tell you this whole deal, approached with the right mindset, can be really interesting, rewarding and, perhaps, really necessary.

“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong.” – N.R Narayana Murthy

Again, this quote on change really nails it. When we are not in a place we belong, when we are not inspired and  not interested, in a place we can feel is bad for us and feeling stuck, that’s some hard pain. We are not yet doing anything about it and it hurts. On the other hand, the pain we may feel in the growth and change process can be eased and offset by the steps in the new direction. We’ve taken action and are taking some control and this is good.

Little wins and victories along the way are good. Yes, there will be setbacks (the paradox again), but if we’re moving and grooving and not looking back, this – dare I say it – could actually become fun. One of my favorite sayings from author and spiritual teacher Esther Hicks is: “the process of becoming is fun.” What a great little mantra to keep in mind through growth and change. I’ve used it, and although some days I may have growled it and wasn’t really feeling it, just keeping it there as a reminder to look for the good feelings was really helpful – and in the end, really true.

Another dynamic in the process of growth and change is the myth that there is a perfect choice. We want the slam dunk, the no-brainer, to lead us, carefree and blissful, down the yellow brick road. Forget it. Not happening. We shouldn’t let time and opportunities go by because everything’s not perfect. There is always going to be some uncertainty, some risk, in making major changes. Of course, we try to minimize and manage them, but they are part of the dance.

Yes, avoid moves rife with red flags and issues; let’s use sound judgment by doing our due diligence along the way. But I have worked with people who paralyze themselves from moving forward by constantly focusing on worst case scenarios that sink their ship of dreams before the maiden voyage.

They never get to feel the exhilaration of casting off the lines and sailing. Doesn’t sailing sound more exciting? We may get on a heading that’s not working so well for us, maybe taking us a little off course, so we tack. Tack as many times as needed. Now we’re having a bit more fun.  

I want to leave you with another little quote to wrap it all up. While pondering and hesitating and fretting about change and transition, consider this:

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” – Lao Tzu

Enjoy the voyage.

Capt. Rob Gannon is a 30-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach ( Comments are welcome below.