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As I am settling into my new living space, I notice how satisfied I feel with this change. Being in this new place during the gorgeousness of fall, my favorite season, is lending a brisk beauty to this season of my life.
The other morning I was up with my cat at 4 a.m. — he is a night prowler and shelf-climber, unfortunately (at least it’s unfortunate at that time of day). Even though it’s a drag to get up and monitor him at an insanely early hour, I often have insights at that time of day/night. (Isn’t 4 a.m. known as the witching hour? Hmm.)
The insight that came to me that morning was that, as with all the changes in my life that have felt most “right”, this move to a new home happened when I was ready for it, and not a moment before.
Now, what do I mean by “ready”?
There’s an idea out there in the world right now about “starting before you’re ready.” That if we wait to be “ready,” we’ll never begin.
I understand this concept, but my experience tells me something different. And I think it has to do with what is meant by “ready”.
I would say, “Start before you’re comfortable, but don’t start before you’re ready.”
For me, deep, true “readiness” has a feeling of acceptance attached to it.
With moving to this new home, for example, I wasn’t entirely happy about the change. For a long time after I began to perceive that it was going to be necessary for me to let go of my old home, I felt a lot of resistance to that idea.
About a year and a half before I made the move, I looked at apartments in the very building where I now live, and I had a feeling of wondering. Hmm, I wonder what it would be like to live here. I really like this street. I have a sense that I’d like to live here.
But: I was nowhere near ready to make a move at that point. My attachment to my old home was still so great that even thinking about a “real move” filled me with grief, exhaustion and overwhelm.
At that point, all I was ready for was wondering about where I might want to live next. The idea that I should be “more ready” to make a change than I actually was created lots of stress for me. (Funny how it’s always easier to see these things in retrospect.)
The shift for me came this past March or so, when I realized that even though things were still very much up in the air with my living situation and I was enduring frequent house showings, it felt right to simply be where I was. I stopped scrambling. I decided that despite the uncertainty of my situation, I was going to fully enjoy my home for as long as I had it.
And, from that place of full acceptance, I began to become truly, deeply ready to make a change. By June, my boyfriend and I had found our new home and we knew we would be moving in August.
But moving — despite feeling more truly ready for it — was not comfortable.
As I wrote previously, I had a ton of downsizing and letting go to do, on a number of levels. Aspects of that felt excruciating, not just from an emotional standpoint but from a logistical one.
And sometimes, in my new “streamlined” existence, I am still uncomfortable with the fact that I go looking for something that was part of my life for a long time and realize I donated it back in August. Or, now that my boyfriend and I do not have separate office rooms to go to, we sometimes feel on top of each other when we are trying to work. This change is not comfortable, even though I wanted it, I chose it.
Another example: Back when I finished life coach training in 2011, a number of my fellow “cadets” began to go through the coaching certification process. My mind started in on a familiar loop: “Look at them! You’re falling behind. Hurry up and get certified!”
Luckily, my training had taught me to question my thoughts, and in doing that I realized that, deep in my bones, I was not ready to apply for certification. I wanted to do more coaching first. I wanted to “get” coaching at a deeper level before I went through the certification process so it would actually have meaning for me, rather than just feeling like a “should”.
This feeling came from a different place than the “never-quite-good-enough” thrust of perfectionism. It simply felt right to me to wait to get certified.
When I did go through the certification process, in November of 2011, I felt ready, but it was not comfortable. I still had all kinds of doubts and fears, but the way I knew I was ready was that I was not attached to the outcome. The process of certification was so “real” to me by this point that, even if I didn’t get certified, I knew what coaching meant to me, and I knew that I was a good coach. I’d walked coaching into my bones, and certification felt like a natural evolution of that process.
And, as it happened, certification went beautifully for me. But it wasn’t comfortable. I had all kinds of anxiety around it, but it was a different kind of anxiety than I would have had if I’d forced myself to go through the process six months earlier than I did, just as I would have had a different kind of discomfort around moving if I’d made myself do it a year earlier, just to end my discomfort!
(One of the most poignant things I’ve learned about humans since I became a coach is that, so often, in our hurry to end our discomfort, we create even more discomfort for ourselves. Then we look back and wonder what in the world we were thinking.)
What do you notice about the difference between the times you’ve felt “deeply ready” to make a change and the times you started too soon? Has being “ready” felt comfortable for you? I’d love to hear your experience.
Plus: In celebration of Halloween and the beauty of fall, I’ll be offering 30-minute Autumn Transition coaching sessions for just $39, now through November 25. If you find yourself in deep transition and not quite sure how to navigate your next step, I’d love to help. Find out more about Autumn Transition Coaching Sessions, here.
Above images © Jill Winski, 2015