"A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you're in and take advantage of it." - Nikki Giovanni
Enter April, and I’m still just trying to catch my breath. Last year capped off on a high note, having successfully launched my first book at a Women’s Conference in Botswana. I wanted to honour the women who had spoken this WORD of encouragement into my life – that I should write a book and share my story. This was less than a year ago, and so much has happened since. Between the book launch and an unexpected career move that came knocking on my door, connecting with new networks, forging ahead with a Master’s Programme, realigning my financial goals, structuring my various passions and areas of interest into a system that appeals to all the things I feel are important to me, working on a second book project – and the most important assignment of all for me – being a great wife and mother – I’m enamoured by how much changing your speech from “I’m not sure I know how” to “I can” has literally transformed me.
It’s been an incredibly busy first quarter for me. I must admit that there were instances I felt quite overwhelmed and wondered whether I could hack it. But GOD. I speak openly about my Christian faith because without it, I know for a fact that I would struggle to operate in my calling. Without it, I’m not sure I would be able to keep pushing through the challenging times; the times when I just need to crawl under a blanket, close the blinds and sleep for days.
My faith has taught me that we can have anything we desire but not always right when we want what we want and how we want it. There are seasons of longing and waiting. There are also times when everything happens so quickly you catch yourself grappling to make sense of what just happened. But that’s the adventure of it all isn’t it?
And so allow me to chime in a little bit on how to manage seasons of transition when things take a rapid turn and a feeling of being overwhelmed sets in. Whether you are changing jobs, starting a new business, establishing new relationships or working towards cutting costs so you can have a better handle on your finances – the transition phase can be quite taxing. But, be rest assured that it’s all part of the process and managing your transitions successfully will ensure you come out on the other side of the change ready to take on new sets of goals.
1. Feeling overwhelmed is normal. There were times over the past quarter where I felt completely overwhelmed. I bet the drivers sitting in cars next to me during my morning school run wondered why I was seemingly having conversations with myself. No, I was not talking to myself – but PRAYING. You aren’t crazy when you start to feel overwhelmed. It is important however, that you don’t allow the feeling of anxiety to become your new normal. Find things you can do in the midst of the changes to calm you down and regroup. Sing, knit, make a stew, PRAY. Whatever you must do, make sure you consciously work towards neutralizing the stressors by doing something that you find cathartic.
2. Transitions build adaptive capacity. Change is constant. If you aren’t adapting to some kind of change, you may very well be dying a slow death. The more change you endure, the more your build your adaptive muscle. I work in a pressure-filled environment that requires managing a lot of stakeholders, all of which want different things oftentimes all at once. Experience has taught me to roll with the punches, manage expectations and do my best to keep calm through seasons of testing. Everything always works out and so there’s no sense in allowing my blood pressure to rise when things go haywire (easier said than done I know – and I’m guilty for getting a little riled up from time to time). Know this, with each item you remove from your checklist, you have likely learned a more efficient way of getting it done the next time, an experience of which will help for your next undertaking.
3. Know that the pressure shall pass. The pressure, the pressure. It won’t last long. How many of us know that the planning and pre-launch phase of any project is always the most pressure-filled. But as days pass and you master the tricks required to streamline processes and become more efficient, moments become less dramatic and pressure points fade away. Whatever the hectic state of your days is, know that stresses will end. Take every day at a time and end each day content with the fact that you have done you best.
4. Learn your lesson. An integral component of developing capacity to achieve goals – learning lessons. In phases of transition, you may endure a varied mix of emotions, and you may very well question your abilities, knowledge and skillset. Whether things are smooth-sailing or fraught with the drama, find the lessons to be learned. Stage-by-stage analysis will help you manage future projects better, identifying your strengths and detecting your areas of weakness in the process.
5. Communicate. I’m not a fan of operating in silos, largely because silos spell out looming disaster in my line of work. Being a PR and communications professional means my role is about filtering information up and downstream, delivering key messages to targeted audiences, and managing time and relationships so we can all work together for the good of the cause.
It’s important that we understand that the individuals we work with are all wired differently, and are operating in their function because they should have the knowledge and skills to be able to do so. Collectively however, you are required to work together for the good of a project, organisational objectives and so on. Maybe you are working alone but you do need someone to help you somewhere down the line. Whether things are flowing smoothly or there are some moments of drama, effective communication will help people you work with understand your challenges and position, should you be on the move from one stage to another. No one likes surprises. Surprises are often costly. Keep people in the loop and raise your hand if you need help.
6. Don’t stop till you are done. A principle I live by. If it’s on your list, it means it must be done. There is a reason you put it there to begin with. Create a roadmap to getting your deliverables addressed, assigning time for each of them. Some say start with the hardest thing first in the earliest part of the day. I’m motivated by inspiration so I prefer to start with that thing that jumpstarts my creativity. As I write this, I have a 5,000-word paper to hash out in two days…and have nothing - not even a title to for my paper. So for today…I’ll blog first…then get to the boring stuff. Hopefully by then I have that mental roadmap for how I will tackle each paragraph.
7. Punctuate the work with fun, mindless moments. Take a break to watch your favourite TV show, grab a quick coffee with your colleagues, play a game of chess, if you're working from home, try out a new recipe, paint a flower – whatever. Find something that breaks the monotony and where possible, do it with the people you love. Fun moments with loved ones remind you that there are more important things to life than the meeting hectic deadlines and staying glued to the screen to get to the finish line that may lie days away!
8. Take time to regroup. I haven’t slept much of late but then again – you sleep when you are dead right? But I do make sure to spend a couple of hours doing nothing that expends too much mental and physical energy. The guys aren’t crazy to spend an afternoon sleeping or watching football. For us ladies, a trip to the nail shop, walk in the park or a much needed nap can do wonders for your body, mind and spirit. Take care of you by taking a break to replenish your storehouse. The upcoming tasks will thank you!
What tips can you share that have helped you manage some of life’s busy seasons? Do seasons of change energise or leaving you wishing things could slow down a tad?