This article is the fifth in a series describing the process of a successful transition. If you are in the last third of your life and thinking about ending your current career or selling your successful business, but not sure what you’re going to do or how you’re going to do it, this series will guide your thinking and perhaps give you your best next step/s. If you have been reading the 4 previous posts in this series you have had a brief overview of the 5 Chapters for making your next chapter your best chapter and learned how to let go of the past, see the present clearly, and chart a course for the future. You may read the previous four posts HERE if you missed them and would like to start at the beginning.
In this chapter we will explore ways to neutralize the inevitable blocks and barriers that are bound to arise as you make this significant shift.
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.”
- Joseph Campbell
In Chapter 3, we charted a course for moving from the world of work into your best chapter yet. We know that on any journey there will be obstacles that get in the way. We will face decisions about where and how we want to live and what we want to do with our time every day. Surprisingly, these are the easier ones, and unlike an actual road trip or travel to another country, the tricky blocks and barriers are internal; they’re not ones we can actually see and navigate around over or through as depicted in the graphic below. They are our:
Chapter 4 is the stage of the journey where you are literally becoming a new human being. You have been a certain way, held fast to a certain identity, and operated from a very specific set of thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and behaviors. In this phase, many of those outmoded internal constructs will derail your journey if you cling to them. Without literally rewiring your brain, you will burden yourself with your old mental models and ways of showing up in the world. I would like to illustrate this crucial and most often ignored part of the journey by telling you a story of a hypothetical person, (let’s call her Sandy) who is a composite of the people I have guided, coached, and supported through this phase.
Sandy was in her mid-sixties and had spent her entire career (40+ years) excelling in the healthcare industry. As a hospital CEO for the past 15 years, she had built a reputation for her facility she was extremely proud of, loved her employees like family members, and spent every day making sure her patients received the best care possible. Sandy’s self-described identity was that of a “striver.” She had planned well and had a successor who was poised to step into her shoes. There was just one problem: she was unable to think of herself as having worth without the sense of being significant and necessary to the success of “her hospital.” While she was tired mentally and physically from the stress of years of intense striving, she was paralyzed by all the obstacles listed above.
Here is the three-step process we used for rewiring Sandy’s brain:
There’s more to the process, of course, but you can see how just getting to this point moves the hidden obstacles of emotions, thoughts, and beliefs into the conscious mind where they are no longer programs running in the background in the unconscious mind. This is how new neural pathways are formed and is what we call neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to learn new ways of thinking, believing, acting, and doing.
“Our minds have the incredible capacity to alter the strength of connections among neurons, essentially rewiring them, and creating entirely new pathways.”
What happened to Sandy? The “aha” she had about her most influential limiting belief and where it came from was the catalyst for a change in perspective about what constituted her definition of worth. Do you know that feeling you have when you have an aha moment? In that instant, we can actually sense a new thought connecting with an existing map in the brain, creating a new possibility; a shift in how we view ourselves, others, and the situation. And a change in perspective can change your life! For Sandy, it did just that.
In time Sandy was able to say goodbye to her hospital, her beloved colleagues, and the thousands of patients for whom she had felt responsible for decades. She experienced a natural period of loss and grieving, which she honored by giving herself grace and time to rest and reach a place of peace and stability. She has granted herself a year of slowing her pace down and continuing to shift her identity from “striver” to “explorer.” Her days are spent in drawing classes, catching up on reading her stack of historical fiction, reconnecting with old friends, focusing on restoring her own health, and enjoying cooking healthy meals. She spends lots of time with her three grandchildren and is planning a long-awaited trip to Africa next year. She has lots of projects on her "when the mood strikes me" list but is in no hurry to tick them off. She is delighted to find that she can enjoy being a human being.
I hope you can see the power of this chapter as an essential element of the five-chapter process. Without a doubt, change is hard. And we humans dearly love routine, the status quo, and our safe and familiar habits. That’s what keeps us stuck. The changes needed to have a successful transition from one reality to a new reality can be made much easier if we:
Chapter 5 – Living Your Best Chapter. Stay tuned for the next post which will outline the elements of the final chapter of your incredible journey!
If you would like to have a no pressure conversation with Rebecca please click HERE.
Rebecca Bradley is a Master Certified ICF Coach and founder of Partnership Coaching, Inc. She began coaching individuals and teams to be successful in business over thirty-two years ago.