When you type “change is constant” in Google, you get more than 500 million results. Some of the first entries are related to Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher who said, “Change is the only constant in life.” He shared this thought around 2,500 years ago. So why do we struggle so much with a concept that has been around for so long?
I didn’t conduct a scientific survey, but I do have a pretty good idea of why based on the past month of my life. You see, I left my corporate job in mid-April to co-found a startup. All kinds of anxiety and pressure built up to my last day in the corporate world. Most of it had to do with the unknown and realizing there were more than a few things I’d have to relearn. For example, I like to know what is happening. I am a planner. I like to-do lists, role clarity and defined processes. After all, many of my corporate responsibilities were in creating clarity and predictability where there was chaos. The idea of waking up one morning to twenty years of structure evaporating was a seismic shift to my normal routine.
To help make sense of it, I used a lifeline to call one of my mentors. He knew I was experiencing a big change, and after a few minutes of explaining how I was feeling, he replied with one simple statement: “Give yourself permission.”
I paused for a few seconds — “Permission to do what?” He said, “Give yourself permission to not be exhausted, to be more creative, to be present for what is really important.”
Over the years, I became comfortable feeling secure in a cycle of repetition. I was ready for a change, but I had not given myself permission to release the past, focus on the future and move forward with the change. When you start a company, you wear many hats. Today I was a user experience designer, a technology officer, a makeshift marketer, an accountant and the receptionist — and I also vacuumed our office. I have started to create enough structure to feel comfortable but also enough time to be creative. But it is hard!
I still have a lot of work to do to figure this out. Just the simple act of giving myself permission released a lot of stress, and now I am looking forward to finding the right balance!
How many of you have given yourself permission? Change is constant, but that doesn’t mean we actually support and move forward with the change. Think about something you want to change in your life. Then think about what you need to do to give yourself permission to make that change.
In my corporate job, I sent an email each week to my staff, usually on Monday, with my schedule and a short note on something I was thinking about that week. I realized that this was one of my creative outlets. It forced me to organize my thoughts on an important topic. I now look forward to sharing some of those thoughts on this blog.
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