Writing in his Heart & Mind blog, Glenn Geffcken recently addressed this common subject quite meaningfully.
“How do we know when it’s time? Time to make a move. Time to launch a new project. Time to change jobs. Time to start a new business, birth a vision, initiate a relationship, have a child, go to college or take a sabbatical.
“Many times in my life I’ve been faced with an almost overwhelming feeling of stagnation, and that somehow, some way, things needed to change—and change radically.”
Time to change “comes from paying attention to the signs and being present with how I’m feeling about them. If I see the signs and I feel stagnation and uneasiness with my life, coupled with the fear of change, most likely it’s time for change. If I’m feeling like I want change, and the feeling is more like a desire to run, than most likely the place I need to be is right where I am, facing the fear of what it is I want to run from.
“In either case there is fear. Fear of change, or, fear of staying where we are and facing the music. If we can discern the difference then we’ll know when it’s time.”
In my own case history, I had to deal with quite a few career/business changes, as well as personal changes, to confront and move on with varying degrees of fear.
I dropped out of college one February and encountered probably the greatest fear I ever experienced; looking for a job. There were times the fear made me almost sick and had me retreat to my room rather than continue to follow leads in the city.
It was debilitating and awful physically and emotionally. I’ve never understood what triggered this reaction.
The career/biz path got going with a major change; leaving New York for Phoenix. The fear didn’t arrive until I got there and the arrangements I thought were made with an insurance company V.P. were vacated when the V.P. was no longer there.
After two years of struggles and uncertainty, and forced to live on borrowed money, I was almost forced to look for a career change.
As the result of a small direct mail company, an opportunity fortunately appeared to join the Valley of the Sun Electric League. I produced the Electrical Products Round Up trade show and helped run appliance dealer promotions, all while working under the tutelage of a terrific mentor who made it a great experience.
A few years later, my mentor encouraged me to accept an offer to join the NBC affiliate as a sales account executive. It was a good gig. It paid well and, with the station’s permission, gave me time to create the Arizona Home Beautiful Show. The success of that endeavor really lit my fire.
After about three years, my old boss/mentor recommended me for the E.V.P. slot at the Electric League of Southern California. So now it was on to Los Angeles and a major change in career and family life.
The three to four year change cycle kept reappearing and now the first appearance of a potential energy crisis made me aware that the fortunes of the electric utilities and their main support of the Electric Association were cloudy at best.
Time for a change? What to do? I thought I had three choices; look for another job, get my M.A. in marketing, or resurrect an old idea of creating an independent marketing agency to serve promotional trade associations and produce trade shows.
With a series of patient discussions over seven or eight months, I was able to convince the board of the Electric Association to become my first client. What a great way to start a new venture.
These biz changes were all fairly easy with little fear and great excitement. I probably didn’t experience much trepidation because I was a little more naïve than well informed.
On the personal side, it was a whole different story. This area involved two separate divorces, both of which I instigated. They were difficult and took a lot longer to overcome the fear and instability. The feeling of liberation, albeit slowly, helped overcome the fear.
As Glenn said in his blog, “If I feel stagnation and uneasiness with my life, coupled with the fear of change, most likely it’s time for change. In either case, there is fear. Fear of change or fear of staying where we are.”
When all is said and done, change is good, at times even wonderful. It’s healthy, invigorating, and sometimes, like all good things, it comes with a price to pay.
Probably the best way to deal with the fear of change is to remember why you wanted to make this change, why you believe the change will be beneficial, why you will be in a better place. Remember that the fear of change may well increase as you age. Not unusual.
Glenn Geffcken’s Heart and Mind Blog can be accessed at firstname.lastname@example.org.