And many see the glamour and the glitter so them think a bed of rose, mi say
Who feels it knows, ooh
Lord help me sustain these blows
Not An Easy Road- Buju Banton
November is celebration season for me! It is the month the earth was blessed with my presence (Birthday Edition Loading), the month I made the big change to move to America and the month some of my favorite people were born. So, for the month of November, I’ll be sharing lessons and insights based on my key milestones, and the deep sense of gratitude I feel at this stage of my life for all the experiences I have had and the people who have journeyed with me so far. This post will share my reflections about the top 9 tips I have learned on this my 9th Year Anniversary of moving to America.
November 1st, marked 9 years since my daughter (then two years old) and I migrated from Jamaica to the United States. As we celebrate the milestone, I find myself reflecting on that big change I made nine years ago and our journey over the years. For me, the title of (International singer /songwriter) Buju Banton’s song “Not An Easy Road, succinctly captures the struggle and hardships I have had to overcome over the last 9 years to be where we are today. In fact, I have often told people that I cried more tears in the first 5 years of making the transition, than I did in my entire life- before or since. So, when I think of the lines from the song, I’m reminded of God’s goodness and faithfulness and how he has always provided for us and protected us.
Why Change is Hard?
I know you will agree with me that change is hard. This is true whether you are an immigrant to another country, just made an important life decision to get married, divorced, have children, change career, move to another city, sell or purchase a home, lost a loved one or are dealing with a scary health diagnosis. According to Psychology Today, one reason that makes change difficult “is that we are not ready and willing for change. We may be comfortable where we are and even scared to step into the unknown. If our current state provides us with comfort and security, making the change will be difficult.”
Nevertheless, change is a constant and necessary part of life- personally and professionally. Our abilty to deal with change (See previous post based on Who Moved My Cheese)at work and at home will directly impact our progress in life, the quality of our relationships, our stress levels and whether we will thrive or merely survive.
9 Top Tips for Navigating Change
That said, there are huge benefits to celebrating milestones such as birthday and anniversaries. Celebrating significant events in your life provides you with opportunities to remember all the difficulties that you have had to overcome; take stock of your life and assess the progress you have made in key areas; think about the future and begin to plan for what lies ahead. And while this is uncomfortable and difficult for many, it is necessary for personal and professional development growth.
As I reflect on my journey so far, I am deeply aware that our testimonies, lessons, and experiences are not just for us. Sometimes we go through difficult periods in life that cause us to struggle with self-doubt, insecurity and that can drive feelings of despair and discouragement. And when we get through them, some of us are inclined to keep them a secret to keep up appearances that all is well or because we are ashamed of these painful experiences. When in fact, these experiences taught us crucial lessons to inform the way forward and that we can share and use to encourage other people who might need encouragement and wisdom to walk through their own valley moments.
So, if you are navigating your own life events and challenges, here are my top 9 tips and takeaways for dealing with change and navigating transitions:
.Don’t ever let fear prevent stop you from taking a bold and brave leap toward the direction of your goals and dreams.
Have a clear vision for yourself and the life you hope to have. This will help you on the days when you feel desperate, discouraged, and tempted to settle for less than you deserve or need.
Dreams might be deferred but not forgotten. Be careful not to hold yourself hostage to specific timelines. Have faith throughout the journey and trust the process.
Preparation is important, but it never guarantees the desired outcome. The best laid plans might go awry but be prepare anyways.
Be humble enough to embrace the discomfort of starting over, trying something different and learn something new.
Relationships are the most valuable currency you have. If you build and invest in positive and supportive relationships, they will show up for you when times are good and bad, and you’ll always have a shoulder to lean on.
Always show up as your best self. This means you must commit to keep learning and growing and making the changes that will help you become the best version of yourself.
You are not your failures or your mistakes. When you fall or fail, cry If you need to but always pick yourself up and try again. You are stronger and more resilient than you know.
Pay it Forward: Your gifts, talents and resources and experiences are not just for you. They are intended for you to help and support others. Give back, serve and help others.
I’m so excited for what the #NextNine years will bring!
What milestones are you #celebrating? Share and let me know!
At some point or another, you have experienced a time or moment in your personal or professional life where you have felt stuck. That is, having a worrisome frame of mind where you know that something in your life is not quite right and needs to change, but not being entirely sure of the what, the why, the who, or the when. This feeling of being stuck then resulted in you feeling indecisive, unsettled, or unable to move on or move forward. In this article, I want to explore what feeling stuck looks like and how to get unstuck by applying the lessons from the book Out of the Maze.
Summary of Out of the Maze Book
In one my previous post about dealing with change based on the book Who Moved My Cheese), I shared the parable of four characters (Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw) who lived in a dark maze and loved cheese. They all woke up one day to find that their cheese (what they saw as important in life) had disappeared. All four characters reacted differently to the change in their circumstances and experienced very different results.
In the sequel Out of the Maze, the story picks up with Hem who is left behind and finds himself stuck in a desperate and ‘cheese-less’ situation, feeling afraid, alone, and hungry for new cheese. He spends his time going back and forth between worrying about his friend Haw, blaming him for leaving him and hoping that things would go back to normal. Day by day Hem’s situation worsened and as he got weaker, Hem realized that he had to do something. Hem saw he could no longer afford to stay and wait for the cheese to reappear and that he would have to go out into the maze and search for new cheese if he were to survive. Though Hem understood what he needed to do and that he was on his own, he still believed the maze was a dangerous place, filled with dark corners and blind alleys that led nowhere.
For days Hem wandered through the maze with his old tools searching for cheese and with no success. Each passing day, Hem grew weaker, hungrier, more discouraged and filled with regret that he hadn’t acted sooner. One day when Hem was feeling he couldn’t go on any further, he met a stranger name Hope who introduced him to apples. Still stuck on finding cheese and believing cheese was the only food there was, Hem took the apple, examined it, but refused to eat it although it smelled good. After some encouragement from Hope and sheer hunger, Hem eventually tried the apple. When he did, Hem was surprised and delighted to discover that he enjoyed the taste of apples and the new burst of energy they gave him to resume his search for new cheese.
For the remainder of the story, Hem came to realize that his old beliefs about cheese had trapped him into one way of seeing things and prevented him from moving forward to find new cheese. Hem decided to let go of his old beliefs, choose new ones, and bravely open himself up to new possibilities (including apples) and a world outside of the maze. In the end and after many failures, Hem is rewarded when he discovered a bigger, better, and brighter world outside of the maze that had cheeses and apples far sweeter than anything he had before.
How to Get Unstuck
What has left you feeling stuck and struggling to move forward in the direction of your life goals and career? What old ideas and thoughts are you still believing about your current situation that might be holding you back?
I’ve have never written an article about a topic that I have not struggled with personally or experienced. So, I can relate to having experienced moments (personal and professional) where I have felt trapped or stuck in situations that I couldn’t seem to make progress on or move forward. That said, I also know that sitting around waiting and playing victim has never helped me get unstuck, nor will it help you.
Like Hem’s story, at the heart of every situation that has made you feel stuck are the beliefs and thoughts you hold to be true. Beliefs that say – things will never change, I can’t do this or that this goal is impossible or nothing good will ever happen for me. Your beliefs are powerful and can paralyze you into inaction or hold you prisoner in your own home, head, or job. Knowing you want and need more, but not believing you can do better, has led many people to settle for unhealthy relationships that do not serve them well, or to compromise themselves by accepting situations that go against their core values and beliefs.
Six Lessons to Get Unstuck
So, here are six lessons from Hem’s story that you can apply to your own situation to help you get unstuck:
Notice your beliefs: A belief is a thought that you trust is true. But not everything you think is true. Because you trust your old thoughts, you remain a prisoner to old memories and beliefs and sometimes refuse to change or venture outside of your comfort zone to try new things. If you closely examined your thoughts or beliefs, you might realize that some of these trusted thoughts aren’t true and might need to change.
Don’t believe everything you think: Sometimes “facts” are just how you see things. But the “facts” you believe are limited to the information you have, your exposures and the meanings you give to events. So, resist the urge to feel threatened or offended when someone challenges your beliefs and don’t be afraid to question and change them on your own.
Let go of what isn’t working: You can’t launch a new quest with old baggage. Stop blaming others and shaming yourself for the past. As Einstein said, you cannot do the same thing repeatedly and expect different results. As you move forward, you must be brutally honest with yourself about your patterns, the things you have been doing that no longer work and what you might need to do or look at completely differently. So, let go of what you have you been dragging around and anything that has left you feeling burdened or stuck.
Look Outside the Maze: Consider the unlikely, explore the impossible. The fear of change, the uncertainty it brings, and the challenges associated with trying something new and different are perhaps the biggest reasons people fail to get unstuck. And if you add the fear of failure into the mix, the more likely it is that people will stay stuck in situations no matter how bad they are. However, getting unstuck will require you to have the courage to act towards what you want, though the risks are many and the future is unclear.
Choose a new belief: Changing what you think doesn’t change who you are. You get to change an old belief and choose new and different thoughts. Sometimes you hang on to thoughts and beliefs that aren’t working because they are familiar. This is a sub-optimal way to live and will not make you happy or successful. You reserve the right to change your mind, your beliefs and consider what other options available to you.
There are no limits to what you can believe: Your whole world is held together by a complex web of beliefs and thoughts that you trust, and hold be true. You can experience and enjoy a lot more than you think you can. To get unstuck from old cycles, you must choose to have an open mind and believe that something else is possible for you. Have faith to believe it before you see it. As you lean into that hope, commit to exploring, learning, and discovering yourself and the vast world around you.
Feeling stuck is not a death sentence, it is a normal part of life. It signals that something you need to be happy and healthy is lacking or that your need for growth and progress is unmet. Therefore, feeling stuck is your heart, mind, and body’s way of telling you that you need change your approach to make progress in your life, your job and in your relationships.
What will you do to get unstuck?
Until next Remember, ItsALearningLife!
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Think about the past year and all the changes you have seen and experienced in your world and the world around you. If you are like me, you have seen and experienced significant changes in both your personal and professional lives. For work, these changes may have included a shift to working from home, change in work processes and procedures as well as an increase in the use of technology to drive and maintain business operations. On the personal side, the changes might have applied to a juggling a new work /life dynamic of multiple roles and significant changes in how you do school, attend church, and even socialize. And chances are, you can readily identify other changes that might be coming in the months ahead.
While change is constantly happening in the environment around us, change can be difficult to deal with. Some people see change as exciting and readily embrace it because of the new opportunities and innovations it presents. But for others, the process of change is chaotic, risky, and filled with negative emotions such as uncertainty, stress, and fear since change marks a departure from what is comfortable or familiar. One reason why people fear change is that they do not understand it. When people do not understand the change or the reason for it, they tend to resist it, become overwhelmed by the change and begin to feel stuck.
Individuals and organizations that resist change or ignore it, are more likely to be overtaken by the competition or simply left behind. Therefore, it is crucial that both individuals and organizations demonstrate the ability to anticipate change and adapt quickly to changes in the environment if they are to succeed. So, how can we get better at dealing with and responding to change?
See what you’re doing wrong, laugh at it, change and do better.”
Summary of Who Moved My Cheese
Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson (An oldie but goodie) is one of the simplest and best book I have read about change. It provides key insights on how change impacts people, typical responses and important lessons to remember when dealing with change. It tells a parable story about four characters- two mice (Sniff and Scurry) and two little people (Hem and Haw) who search for cheese in a maze. For the purposes of the story, ‘Cheese’ represents the things we want in life that will make us happy and satisfied. For you, cheese could be wealth, loving relationships, security, a career, good health, or spiritual peace of mind. And the ‘Maze’ is where we look for what exactly we want. This could be the place you work, your family, your community and the world around you .
At the start of the story, all four characters search the maze and find their cheese at Cheese Station C. Then one day, Sniff and Scurry arrived early at the Cheese Station C to discover that all the cheese had disappeared. Rather than stopping to overanalyze what had happened to the cheese and why it was gone, the mice determined that the situation at Cheese Station C had changed, so they needed to change. Both looked out into the maze and immediately moved on in search of new cheese. Sometime later in the day, Hem and Haw slowly arrived at the Cheese Station C to find that the cheese has disappeared. Both Hem and Haw were caught off- guard and their responses were totally different. Hem got angry and screamed that “it wasn’t fair. “Haw was shocked and frozen in denial.” Both struggled to accept the reality that the cheese was gone. Because the cheese was so important to them, Hem and Haw spent a long time trying to figure out what had happened to the cheese and what to do.
Because Sniff and Scurry had moved on quickly back into the maze in search of new cheese, after much trial and error, they eventually found new cheese. However, Hem and Haw stayed at Cheese Station C, wondering how it was possible for the cheese to be gone. They spent their days being upset about the situation and trying to figure out had gone wrong. After some time, Haw noticed that the mice were gone and wondered if they had found new cheese. Haw told Hem that since things were changing, they needed to change and do things differently. Haw suggested they stop analyzing the situation and move on. Hem refused because he was stuck on trying to find answers and unwilling to try something new.
Though Haw was interested in moving on, Hem’s pessimism and discouragement caused him to lose hope and not act. One day, Haw realized that their “cheese-less” situation was deteriorating while they were waiting for things to improve. Realizing his folly, Haw started laughing at himself and told Hem that they could not keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect anything to get better. Haw then told Hem that “Things change, life moves on and so should we.” But, Hem could not get past his fear and refused to venture back out into the maze. Haw then decided it was time to leave his friend and go back out into the maze to search for new cheese.
Though Haw was afraid, he gathered his courage and stepped out bravely into the maze. As he searched the maze for new cheese, Haw found bits and pieces of cheese, but not enough to sustain him. Excitedly, Haw ran back to Cheese Station C to share the news with Hem and found him looking hungry. Haw offered his friend some of the new cheese, but Hem was unwilling to try the new cheese because he did not think he would like it and wanted his old cheese back. Haw then realized that Hem did not want to try anything new and left him behind to continue his search for new cheese. Before long, Haw found Cheese Station N, which had plenty of new cheese in all shapes and sizes that he had never seen, heard of, or tried before. He looked around and saw Sniff and Scurry with big tummies which suggested they had been here awhile. Haw dived into enjoying the cheese while hoping that Hem would eventually step back out into the maze and follow him.
When you change what you believe, you change what you do!”
Responses to Change
As evidenced by the story, change happens to all of us but each of us responds differently. How we react to change determines the impact change will have on our lives and our chances of success. To better understand your own reactions to the change(s) taking place in your life, reflect on the how the four characters of book responded to their cheese being moved and consider if there are any similarities in your own responses to change:
Sniff: These are people who sniff out and anticipate changes in their environment and notice the change happening around them at an early stage. They are flexible and generally better prepared for change when it comes.
Scurry: These people who jump into action immediately once a change has been detected or has occurred. They are open to changing direction easily and quickly and tend to benefit from change sooner than others.
Hem: These people who deny and ignore change and want to stay where they are comfortable. Hems feel entitled and act like victims (blaming others) when change occurs. They get stuck in fear and do not adapt. They resist change and ultimately pay the price for it when they are left behind.
Haw: These people “hem and haw” at first but become open-minded when they see that change can lead to something better. They are willing to adapt, learn something new and will laugh at themselves when they see what they are doing wrong and make the changes to do better.
So, which of these characters are you most like? And what could you do differently to handle change more effectively? Believe it or not, we all have these four characters in our families, and on our work teams.
Being in the uncomfortable zone is much better than staying in the cheese-less situation.”
7 Tips for Dealing with Change
No one controls how you respond to change—just you. Here are seven tips and lessons from Haw (as he moved through the maze to find new cheese) that you can apply to improve your ability to deal with change and ensure your personal and professional success:
Change happens – they keep moving the cheese. In other words, change is everywhere.
Anticipate change – Get ready for the cheese to move. This reminds us to be aware of what is happening in our environment and never get complacent with our cheese or where we are.
Monitor change – Smell the cheese often so you know it is getting old. Since nothing stays the same keep assessing how you and your cheese are doing . Are things getting better or worse?
Adapt to change quickly – the quicker you let go of old change the sooner you can enjoy new cheese. Holding onto the past and the familiar will never move you forward. So, keep learning.
Change – Move with the cheese. Don’t get stuck in negative emotions. Stay flexible and open.
Enjoy the change – Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese. Change is good.
Be ready to quickly change again and again – They keep moving with the cheese. Be willing to adjust and adapt repeatedly and stay ready.
So over to you, how is your cheese doing? Are you monitoring your cheese to see if it has moved lately? Are you moving with the cheese or are you stuck? Whether we accept it or not, change will happen to us. Never be afraid to step back into the maze. The quicker we adapt to change, the happier and less stressful our lives will be. Afterall, we do not grow in places of comfort. Embrace change and grow. Until next time, Remember, It’s A Learning Life!
What would you do it you weren’t afraid?”
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