29 Dec Real Transformation Is An Evolution
Real transformation sneaks up on you. Maybe you have experienced that moment – that face-palm, slap to the forehead instant – when you realize you are in the middle of unplanned, unexpected, unpredicted life change. It can feel like all the air just got sucked out of the room when you figure it out because real transformation changes everything. What was can no longer be, not because you don’t want it but because it just won’t work in your life anymore. Who you were then is not who you are now… and the ‘now’ you cannot be put back into the smaller container of who you were ‘then’.
We like to think that we can see what’s coming and adapt proactively. We pride ourselves on managing all the spinning plates and bouncing balls while making a great living and having a great social life and staying fit and keeping a beautiful home and, and, and. The reality is that even if we see what’s coming, we think we have enough time to address it as it comes ‘later’… which usually arrives ahead of our schedule for it.
More often, we are so busy living our lives every day that we miss the signs that transformation is headed our way. There is never enough time for ‘later’; the good news is that you can catch at least three signals of change when you know what to look for as you live your life.
One of the telltale signals of change is restlessness. It feels a bit like being a Lamborghini stuck behind a lawn mower. You are revved up with nowhere to go. You decide to go out but you don’t know where you want to be – and it really doesn’t matter because wherever you are is not ‘it’. You want to change careers but you have no idea what you want to do. Ripping through your closet to donate everything is satisfying – until you realize you need clothes to wear and you don’t know what your style is anymore anyway. A sense of restlessness is the pre-adrenaline rush that is preparing you for fight or flight until you figure out that there is a bigger reason for why you feel the way you do.
Another signal is things ending around you. Life chapters that close in your life – relationships, projects, jobs, kids moving out, old beliefs that don’t make sense anymore – can signal you are changing. When you change, everything else changes. If you see everything else changing, it’s time to look within. When things are ending, it is clearing space for new beginnings (aka, transformation). If you do not start your next phase intentionally, you leave yourself open to whatever change happens to be passing your way. That might look like a friend who has a traumatic break-up or a family member passes or a lover gets transferred to another city and you get sucked in to handle the details. When the cup of your life starts going empty, notice it and fill it with the life juice you want to experience.
And then there are repetitive challenges. These are yet another signal of change. When you are looping through the familiar scenery of any particular situation, like a ‘discussion’ with a loved one, going on a diet or dating the same not-right person – again, you are being gifted with the opportunity to identify the pattern and resolve it on your terms. If you do not step up to the challenge, you will experience that same situation again in the future but it will be bigger, badder, and bolder because it needs to get your attention. Do yourself a favor and see it in the moment so you can break the cycle before it breaks you. You do not need to suffer; you only need to wake up to your own life.
If you are fortunate enough to recognize any of these signals, you might be able to initiate change on your own proactively far in advance of life events making you change. Chances are that won’t happen.
Most of the time we are not aware and so we get caught off-guard by life’s unexpected circumstances. In retrospect, once we get through them, we can trace back to where we should have seen the signals and that somehow makes it easier to take our lumps and get on with it.
Far more profound are the transformations that happen in response to the chaotic nature of life as it happens – the things we cannot control. Your life partner is diagnosed with a significant disease. Your out-of-state father passes away and his house is condemned because he rented to a hoarder who is now squatting there and not even the bank will take it back. Your child made a lot of money right out of school but did not know how to manage it and had an undiagnosed mental condition and so went bankrupt and now lives on donations. You find yourself increasingly sick – and no doctor can diagnose what’s going on – only to discover you unknowingly moved into a home with an aged black mold colony living in your air conditioner, compromising your health in innumerable ways. As amazing as they seem, these are all true stories that dragged the people concerned through rugged, seemingly senseless and unnecessary, transformations.
In the bigger picture, maybe there is a bigger purpose to this kind of transformation – the unwanted, unforeseen and undesirable circumstances that force the essence of your spirit through your cracks to pull you forward kicking and screaming into your next level of awareness. Looking back, would you choose your growth to be as it’s been? Probably not. And yet, you will likely have to admit that the richest rewards have likely come from the most difficult situations.
Transformation looks like it happens on the outside but the reality is that it changes you from the inside. It’s not what happens to you but how you handle it that determines your character and your quality of life. What will you do with the cards you have been dealt? This is the pivot point question that transformation offers IF you can step back to see it in—or at least after—the moment of change.
Whether you believe you are ready or not, you have become more of yourself because of your journey. Who you are now is all the more special for where you have been because of the reality of your transformation.