The topics of Change and Transition surface frequently in coaching, as many physician executive clients have to respond to great change in their healthcare organizations. Or self-selecting to deliberately consider altering their status quo.
Change is a provocateur – shimmering and glossy one moment, dark and threatening the next. Its attraction differs from one person to the next.
I thrive on change, eager to discover the new, deeply curious about what is next, and restless with most forms of predictability (I DO however like to be able to predict that my family will be gathering for dinner at night!). I go for the shimmer.
My late husband personified resistance to change. He was stable and solid and liked things to be just so. Change was murky and scary to him (and he had to hang on, with what I put him though!) He served as my reminder that most people in the world are probably nowhere near as futuristic and flighty as I am. And as my greatest steadying influence, he helped me celebrate the power of the present.
So if you are grappling with transition, here are my five suggestions for managing the thrill ride:
1. Give yourself permission TO NOT KNOW the answers right away.
I have a physician executive client who is truly willing to not force a decision about her best "next professional direction." Instead, she is allowing herself to continue learning in her current role, while she quietly explores other physician executive positions that catch her interest and attention. She is voluntarily engaging in transition without immediate clear answers.
2. Carve out mini-retreat times with yourself.
What would you do with a day, or even an afternoon, devoted entirely to self-reflection? Away from the office or home – with a blank sheet of paper or unsullied document on your laptop in a coffee shop, or a towel and a thinking cap on the beach.
Here are three “Kinder Questions” (from financial guru George Kinder) to ask yourself, as you survey your life and profession from the navel-gazing position under a tree:
Imagine that you have enough money to take care of your needs, now and in the future. How would you live your life? Would you change anything?
Imagine that your doctor says you have only five to 10 years to live. You won’t feel sick, but you’ll never know when death will come. What will you do? Will you change your life? How?
Now imagine that your doctor says you have only one day left to live. Ask yourself: What did I miss? What did I not get to be or do?
3. Tell the Judge he/she needs to take an overdue vacation.
Change affords a field day opportunity for your Inner Critic to indulge in self-doubt, "Who do you think you are?" questioning and "How dare you believe you’ll succeed" censure.
It’s time to give the Judge a few days off — just gently let him or her know that you are not available right now for any debate. And then tune him or her out if you hear The Voice.
4. Give your right brain some real "air time".
Years ago, I watched a fascinating short and compelling presentation, on what life is like living with right brain dominance. I urge you to watch this 18-minute affecting presentation by neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor as she describes her experience during and after her stroke!
Then you will understand what I mean by giving your right brain air time – she describes it way better than I could!
5. Know that very few decisions are forever.
As an adolescent or young adult deciding your college majors or your graduate course of action, don’t you recall being overwhelmed by the sense of permanence of your choice?
Well, I’m here to reassure you (through deep personal experience, with a career that has waltzed all over the ballroom) that none of your career options are etched in copper. You may already know this, having stepped into a new physician executive role. You can afford to question whether to stay put or move on. You are not stuck with your future selections — no matter what the naysayers opine.
How do you cope with change?