Have you heard the change analogies about the season, car and journey?
So, what can we learn from the seasons on how to manage change?
As the nights are drawing in, and the weather is getting cooler, and the leaves are changing from green to yellow, to red, to brown before dropping to the earth, I am reminded how nature embraces change as a natural cycle. It happens continuously and effortlessly with no intervention required.
There is beauty in every season, in every change, if we choose to see it. We may prefer the warmth and longer nights of summer, but there is beauty in the bareness of trees against a stormy sky, a snugness to wrapping up warm when the winds are blowing outside, of hot chocolates by a fire.
This isn’t an either/or situation. We can embrace both as we need the changes. If it was always hot, the earth would dry out, so we need the rain to nourish. We need the leaves to drop for energy to be conserved in the colder weather, ready for growth and new life when the warmth comes again.
All these changes happen with an elegant ease, with no forceful action or hard demarcation - it is just a cyclical process that happens naturally over time.
So, what can we learn from a car on how to manage change?
A sharp left turn, and I’m changing the analogy! Imagine you have the perfect car for you. You have set the seat and mirrors to be in the perfect position. You have set the air conditioning to be just right. You set out on a wonderful road trip. The sun comes out - what do you do? Yup, you put the sun visor down! Oh no, it has started to rain! No worries, you put the wipers on! You are starting to feel a bit cold - just crank the heating up! You drive for hours and it gets dark. No problem here, as you turn on your headlights!
Your car has all the tools so you can adapt and change to the circumstances around you. The car is still a car - a vehicle to get you to where you want to be, but it can have minor adaptions to effortlessly meet the differing scenarios along the way. That is what I think we should cultivate in ourselves - the toolkit so we can adjust to the changing situations we find ourselves in, whilst remaining happy and confident in who we are.
So, what can we learn from a journey on how to manage change?
Your end goal today isn’t likely to be your end goal in 10 years. Your end goal for 10 years may not even exist yet! With the pace of change, careers are emerging and ideas are forming that may mean what you want, or will become, just isn’t even here yet.
If you go on a perfect holiday, do you decide you will never go on another holiday again? If you get the job promotion to your dream job, will you remain in that job for the rest of your career? If you reach your savings goal, do you stop saving?
Maybe you do for a bit. But the chances are, that even when you achieve an absolute goal, there will be another goal around the corner that you will want to aim for. Like the seasons, you keep evolving and changing and this is just part of a process.
That is why being open to possibilities and opportunities is so important. To embrace change, to have goals but know they may change over time and that once you’ve achieved one, there will be another to take its place, if not immediately, eventually, because without that you won’t continue to develop and learn.
It is natural to want more, to strive for more. But I think it is also important to embrace where you are now, finding happiness, whilst also accepting things will change and you will grow. Don’t put things off until you feel ready or have achieved a particular goal to allow yourself something. And accept that once you’ve achieved something, the chances are you will want more, and that is okay - as is celebrating the success of your current achievements!
This is where the adage of ‘it is about the journey, not the destination’ is so relevant. As I’ve said previously, my favourite saying is from Ghandi, “Live as if you’ll die tomorrow, learn as if you’ll live forever,” and this is my guiding compass for my life. My goals are accomplished and then built on, and sometimes change and evolve as I learn stuff, but ultimately my destination is the same as everyone else's - unfortunately, death - so what is really important is the journey - how I get from where I am now, to hopefully the end point in a very long time, having travelled a very fulfilling route!
I don’t want to force change, or to hold on so tightly to an existing situation that I’m scared for future change. The stops along the journey are important. Some I will rest at for a while, some I will want to move on from quickly, others I may actually come back to, but this is all part of the road trip. It is what is helping me to learn and grow.
So, like the seasons (or a car journey) I encourage you to ‘go with the flow’, to change and evolve, to embrace where you are at, whilst preparing for the next stage. To know you have the resources to transition as you need to. To know things are always in a state of flux but there is beauty and excitement in that. That things don’t stay the same, that sometimes things come in early, or late, or are different to how we expected, but things do change, and this is ultimately a good and necessary thing.