When we are unhappy or facing hardship, our response is more often than not to make an immediate, visible change to elevate our discomfort. We change jobs, end a relationship, get a new hairstyle….Then we sit back, thinking our work is done, believing that somehow the rest will fall into place.
True, we may have removed an undesirable situation and feel a little better, shifted even. But have we changed?
No doubt it takes courage to leave a dead-end marriage or forsake the financial security of a paycheck to pursue entrepreneurship. Even the act of cleaning out the closet and throwing away items holding the slightest sentimental value can be daunting as we feel the pain of cutting away pieces of our past.
These steps are important, but most often our transitional work is far from done or just begun. If we don’t explore what made us miserable in the first place and what we actually want, we could find ourselves back at square one as soon the novelty of the new situation wears off.
Meaningful change, after all, is not a series of steps but a subtle process underneath the surface of what seems real and concrete. A stream of tiny little shifts flowing forwards and upwards, transforming us one step, one aspect at a time.
By all means make that immediate, visible change, but also acknowledge and engage with the bigger story behind your discontentment.
Dig into the belief systems and patterns that drive your behaviour and determine your choices. What do you need to change about or for yourself, so that you can move forwards into a truly new situation, not simply a replacement for one that no longer works?
Realise that the change you made is nothing more than a halfway step, a temporary haven where you can do the work needed to figure out what you really want.
Of course, enjoy the new job and the new cool haircut – and applaud yourself for taking these steps – without the pressure of transitioning homework.
But after a while, consider, ask yourself: what is next?
Jacinta Hin was born in the Netherlands and has been living in Tokyo, Japan, since 1989. Her professional background is in human resources, career management and coaching. She is passionate about helping people, herself included, discover new perspectives of possibility, move to embracing and working with their transitions, and designing and realizing changes aligned with who they truly are and what they truly want from their lives.