Transitioning Gracefully

You all know Curtis. He’s the reason you’re reading this in the first place. You don’t know me. My name is Esther and I’ve been working at the Curtis Zimmerman Group for a little over a year now as the resident Millennial in charge of blog posts, social media, and any other jobs that needed filling.

As a recent college grad, this year has been quite a learning experience with quite a steep learning curve. The first year of “real life” has been hard in some unexpected ways and throughout all the craziness and change, the one thing I’ve come to count on is that you never know what’s going to happen.

And from working with Curtis, I’ve realized that this principle is not unique to my life. Change, both good and bad, is inevitable and it happens FAST.You can’t control some things in life, but you can control how you respond to it.

My Series of Unexpected Events included:

a brother with an emergency brain surgery,

a mid-year Latin teaching opportunity,

a drama-filled high school Drama class,

an international import snafu,

and job titles that have little to do with my recently acquired BA.

I’m sure as you look back on the last few years, you could come up with your own list. A list that would bring you chuckles and maybe some tears. I know mine does. And as I reflect on these events, I realize that there wasn’t really anything I could have done differently to prepare for any of this past year. There was no way that I would have expected the items on this list. But what we can do is expect the unexpected and prepare ourselves to receive the impact of the changes that are happening all around us.

Change is stressful and scary. The fear of the unknown is a completely valid fear. But it’s not ok to let that fear keep you from moving forward. Rather, there are some simple things we can do to help us prepare mentally and physically for the unknowns that are ahead.

Breathe. Every muscle in our body requires oxygen to move. Our heart can’t beat without it. Our brain cells die without it. When we start to go through the turbulent patches of life, it’s important to focus on the inhale and the exhale. Breathe through the trouble. When things get the scariest, simplify your thinking to just the breath. In and out. In and out. And I think you’ll be amazed at the clarity and insight that breath will provide. You may find a way to navigate the change in the breath. “Inspiration” derives from a conjunction of two Latin words: “in” + “spirare” which literally means “to breathe in.” Focus on the breath and see what happens.

Act. Once the breath is established, you can begin to act and respond to the change. Once you have a clearer idea of what is happening, you can then have a clearer idea of how to address the change. You may not have the most effective plan but don’t let that stop you from acting. Sometimes we let the fear of making a mistake stop us from making a move. Again, we’re scared by what we don’t know and makes us, as Hamlet says, “bear those ills we have rather than fly to those we know not of.” We’d rather live in the trouble that we understand than stride forward to alternative futures. But that is so incredibly limiting! Failure, while definitely a setback, can be used to push us forward and guide us to better futures.

Reflect. Sometimes the response time does not allow you to really process what’s happening. In the middle of a crisis, you must respond to the core issue and resolve it before you can do much else. But once the immediate danger has based, it then becomes time to reflect on what has just happened. Putting the words to the experience I just went through allows me to better understand what just happened and to understand how I feel about it and how I’ve changed through it. I do this primarily through journaling. Chronicling my experience allows me to tell my story. And having that notebook available allows me to look at past events and see how I’ve changed since then.

I’m about to go through another change. I’m sadly finishing up my time here with the Curtis Zimmerman Group and I will be beginning my first year as a full time 6th-8th grade Latin teacher (did I mention that I studied theater not classical languages in college?). There will be lots and lots of changes this year, some I can prepare for, some I can’t even anticipate. But as I move forward, I’ll be thinking: Breathe. Act. Reflect.

Have you recently gone through a change? What has been your experience during and after the experience? What are your tips and ideas for navigating the uncertainty of the future?

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