Getting Used to Changing Times One Day At a Time
I know I am not alone, yet it feels so personal. I feel that my little personal bubble was popped and here I stand, not knowing what to do. I didn’t ask for this. I don’t want this. I just want to go back to how it was before.
It has happened to me so many times before. Everything was working out. Things were looking up. I had worked hard to get to a point and all I had to do was to enjoy it — but life happened. And it happened to say no to my plans.
It’s hard not to take it personally when you are affected personally. Knowing that you are not alone in it is not the same as feeling it. We think we are rational creatures, yet we are much more driven by our emotions than facts. Fear rules more than reason. Uncertainty scares us more than a certain negative outcome. We cannot prepare for something we don’t know how to.
This is why we hate change. This is why our brain instinctively keeps us away from change — good and bad. This is why we need a lot of courage to get through times when everything is upside down.
When I talk about leaving my last job overnight and starting freelancing I talk about it as an act of courage — because it was one. But what led me there was a string of external events that rendered my helpless and I had no other choice but to change. It was scary. It was painful. It was new. And I didn’t want it.
All I wanted to have a safe and stable job with people I love, doing the things that I love and that I have always been good at. Life didn’t only say no, it was yelling my face screaming no. I had to lean in.
And I had to learn to live with the change. I had to let go of the certainty of the paycheck, the stability of a timetable that was forced on me by my superiors, the environment that surrounded me and made me feel loved and appreciated. And as much as I was trying to be positive about it, I hated every second of it — at first.
It took me weeks to get out of my anxiety and depression, my raging fear that I won’t be able to pay my bills and feed my kids.
I did the only thing I could. I (fake) smiled and I took the new situation one day at a time.
Change is the only certain thing in our lives. It’s permanent. Sometimes it’s organic growth and it feels good, sometimes it seems like an obstacle or full-blown chaos and it feels terrible. But life doesn’t stay still — and you have to keep moving with it.
Allow Yourself Adapt To It
Do you know the feeling when you go on a well-deserved holiday and for the first few days you feel lost and useless and anxious about it? If you are used to working 8–10 hours a day and suddenly you have nothing to do with lots of idle time and too much headspace it can be just as disturbing as the opposite of it — when you have to get back to work after 2 weeks on the beach.
You need time to adapt to the change of the environment, of your time and space concept. And it doesn’t happen overnight. Those who travel a lot and jump from one country to another are already used to the constant change, so much that it becomes their norm and it doesn’t even register anymore.
Allow yourself to adapt to the new situation — the new setup, new environment, new requirements, new expectations. No, you shouldn’t yet manage it perfectly. Yes, you can have days and weeks until it gets familiar enough not to be anxious about. Be very kind to yourself — it’s not easy.
Remind yourself of your values
Whether we need to adapt to a new setup by choice or not, the only thing we truly have an influence on is how we choose to look at it. There are a million things that we can’t change. We can’t change the climate, the weather, a pandemic, or the restrictions that come with it — but we can choose how we react to them.
It starts with reevaluating our own core values. They will be our anchors in times of change.
If your core value is honesty and social connection and you feel that it is taken away from you, then you need to look at it in ways that you can control it. You can still stay true to yourself even if everything falls apart — that’s called integrity. You can still connect with people even if the means of connection are different than what you are used to — inventing new ways of letting people know that you care.
It’s time to put your values to work and re-assess every situation to see how they can be still prioritised.
Our whole culture is built on busyness and we need to take extra measures to slow down under regular circumstances. Meditation, mindfulness, self-care are all gaining even more importance in the time of change.
Take a break and slow down. Force yourself to lose speed and try to conquer the world slower.
Celebrate your small accomplishments and don’t compare it to regular times. Working through your day in a much slower fashion will allow you to practice some mindfulness on the go.
Make it the new routine that you don’t rush, but you allow yourself to deal with the tasks at hand on a lower scale.
Don’t Set Impossible Expectations
As said, change is inevitable — it will happen at its own pace — whether you want to rush it or not. Don’t trouble yourself with extra tasks that you will fail at doing but pace yourself and allow some period to get accustomed to the new system that is ahead.
One day at a time is the best you can do. In unpredictable times you have no idea what the future holds in a week or in a month and fighting the course of happenings will only lead to frustration, not results.
Size up what you can certainly do without exhausting yourself physically and mentally. This time it is not about momentum or growth — it is the time to adapt and learn the new ways.
Take care of yourself and set your priorities straight. Make conscious choices within your influence to live your days the best to your abilities — without self-imposed deadlines and impossible tasks.
Change is permanent and the best thing to do about it is to lean in — and make the best of it. If it’s self-reflection or quiet times, so be it. If it’s learning or re-learning things that you had learnt before, so be it.
Make yourself the priority and get through the change. One day at a time.