Health & Well Being

Episode #334 – Navigating Seasons of Change or Challenge

March 19, 2024

I’m Cherylanne.
I am the trusted advisor ambitious women want in their corner to help them fully embody their potential.
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In this episode, Cherylanne shares wisdom on navigating seasons of change and challenge – a recurrent event for women in midlife. You’ll learn the signs that indicate there’s been a shift in your life, and learn the power of adopting a “normal for now” mindset to gracefully ride out these seasons.

With practical tips for regrouping, finding anchor points, lightening your load, and building your support system, Cherylanne offers a roadmap to navigate life’s twists and turns. 

Tune in for guidance and actionable strategies to thrive through your next season of change.

Show Highlights:

  • Discover how to navigate life’s changing seasons. 00:41
  • How to deal with raw emotions during the transitions of life  04:22
  • The negative impact of personal crises on your output. 08:07
  • How do you adapt to temporary phases in life? 09:55
  • What are the ever-evolving changes in life? 12:14
  • Have you found your anchor points in life? 14:57
  • How to navigate challenges and prioritize essentials. 16:29
  • What to do when you are stuck in a cycle of rigidity? 18:47

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This is episode 334 of the Brilliant Balance podcast, navigating seasons of change or challenge. So, welcome back to the show, my friends. I love this topic that we’re going to get into today because it seems to be a really common theme among the women who I get to coach. I suspect, therefore, that it really is a common theme among the listeners of this show as well. So, if you are someone listening today and you tuned into this episode because you thought, “Wait, that’s me. I’m navigating a season of change or a season of particular challenge,” I think you’re going to feel right at home. You’re really in the right place. This is a season of life, midlife, where I think a lot of us do face repeated seasons of change. Things change kind of quickly and also where we’re navigating a series of challenges. Lots of things can happen. We had an episode just a few back in the backlog of episodes about, you know, it’s called “You’re not doing it wrong, it’s just that hard.” I think it’s episode 331 if you’re looking for it. We got a lot of feedback about that episode because I think that’s something we tell ourselves. You know, “Why is this so hard?” We say that to ourselves when maybe in fact we’re just in a season that’s particularly challenging or we’re navigating something that has, you know, a fair level of change happening to us or around us. So, I want to talk first in this episode because I really want to spend most of our time focused on how do you navigate these seasons? And I thought about saying it like surviving the season, right? Or dealing with the season or crushing the season even, and I thought, “No, it really is this is a navigational metaphor that works.” Like, you’re going to get through it somehow. So much of it is about steering right and finding your flow and not fighting what is happening around you.

First, let’s talk about a few of the signs. What might you notice that could be a clue or tell you, “Hey, you know what? This might be a season of change that I’m in or this might be a season of challenge that I really have to navigate.” Okay, first sign is you might notice that your old ways of doing things aren’t working. Like we all have these tried and true approaches, right? The way that we do things is the way we do things, and I think that if you start to notice that, you know, my way of doing things just isn’t working right now. I’m doing it, but it’s not creating the outcome that I really want, and that is a really good sign that something around you may have shifted or changed. I cannot help but think about parenting in this case. I have three teenagers as I record this. They are 13, 16, and 19, and I think it sneaks up on you, right? The shifts even those three are in three really different stages of development, and if I think back to where I was just a few years ago, you know, maybe just take three years back when they would have been 10, 13, and 16, or three years before that when they were 7, 10, and 13, like the way that I have to parent, the approaches that work, the ways that we do things are just so different. It happens so gradually that you’re almost in a perpetual state of change in parenting. So that’s one signal that your way of doing something just doesn’t feel like it’s working anymore.

The second sign you might notice when you’re in one of these seasons is that your emotions are raw, right? Your emotions are just raw. You notice that maybe you are more prone to tears. They come more quickly, or you can’t turn them off, as happens to me, right? Or you might notice that you’re more prone to anger, that you snap at things more quickly, you just, you feel like you have a really short fuse, more often than you would think is normal for you, right? So those emotions like they come on more easily, maybe they stick around longer, you can’t break the cycle as readily, and it could be all kinds of emotions. But I think the two I hear about the most, particularly with the women that I’m in dialogue with, are anger and tears. And we don’t really talk about tears as sadness because I don’t think our tears often represent sadness. Sometimes they do, but often they’re like the overflow valve, right? For just overwhelm. We’re so overloaded, we have so much going on, and it’s like, I cannot do all of this at once, and that can cue the tears. We can cry when we’re hurt, right? If something hurts our feelings, if we can cry when we’re frustrated. And all of those, you know, that’s why I think we talk about the tears and the anger and not like the sadness and the anger. I don’t think that it’s the tears are only associated with sadness. So if those emotional responses are like on, you know, the volume is turned up on them or the frequency has turned up, I think that is a really good signal that you might be in one of these seasons. A third sign is that, and you can think about this in two different ways, you can think about getting a level of output that requires more effort or the same effort you’ve always put in is delivering a lower output. So that’s kind of a nerdy, as I say it out loud, like that’s kind of a nerdy way of saying this, but let’s unpack it a little bit. You know, let’s say it’s like you’re like, “My God, I’m still working the same number of hours, right? I’m still getting to my desk at, make it up, you know, 8:30, and I’m at my desk until 5, but I’m getting less done, right?” And depending on what your work life looks like, it could be, “I’m taking the same number of meetings, I’m writing the same number of pages,” like, whatever your metric of output is, I’m sorry, of effort is, it’s just that effort is not delivering the same amount of output. There’s a gap. And you could think of this maybe as your efficiency is off-kilter, you know, like here’s my effort, my return on effort just isn’t as high. So I think we come through these seasons with two different approaches. Some people instinctively are going to dial back their output or their effort. My gosh, I keep getting these backward. Some people are instinctively going to dial back just how much effort they’re putting in. And other people are going to really try to, like, run headlong into it and maintain the same level of effort. And again, you’re noticing like, is this delivering the results that I would expect? So what I think is happening in the middle there is, it’s like there is a mental load, a cognitive load associated with the challenge or the change that you’re navigating. And picture it like it’s running in the background all the time, you’re just, you’re a part of your brain is trying to sort through the change or the challenge, right? You have something happening in your life, let’s say that your father is in the hospital, and you are navigating all of the associated doctor’s appointments and the emotional distress, and maybe supporting your mother through that. All of those things, by the way, just because I have people listening to this podcast who know me, my father is not in the hospital, but that is an example of something that might be just taking up a lot of headspace that can lower your output, right? It’s like it’s running in the background and needing to think about it. You might have decisions that you’re trying to make, maybe your family has started talking about moving, and you have just all of the noise around the potential move, where you might move. You know, could you sell your house, could you buy the house, what kind of a house would you be able to buy, that even if you’re not actively trying to solve the problem in the moment, it’s like it’s taking up processing bandwidth, right? And so there’s just not as much left to go toward your normal tasks, and that’s what I think is lowering that output level. So you may not have a clear recognition of why at first, but you might notice that your output level is down.

So I think that when I think about these seasons and want to help you recognize, am I in one, if you’re sitting there right now going, “Oh my gosh, I think I am,” and now that we’re talking about it, I maybe even can put my finger on why. What’s the source of the change or the challenge that I’m navigating? And maybe that was obvious, maybe you’re just, it’s just now coming into your mind. I want to outline a few things that we can do to navigate these seasons. And there’s one thing that I think is like the key, and then I want to talk about a few other things that we can do or like what it might require of you. The main key to navigating one of these seasons I have found is adopting what I’ll call a “normal for now” approach. Normal for now, right? This is what allows you to stop fighting what is and instead find a way to ride it out knowing that it’s temporary, right? You get to a place where I think one of the things that stops us from being able to adopt this mindset shift is. Our brain is going, “Oh my gosh, if it is like this forever, I will never make it, right? I can’t do this forever.” And the reality is so many of these seasons are temporary. They have varying durations. We don’t always know what the duration is going to be when we start, when we embark on this particular chapter. But is the sooner we can get to, “Okay, this is my normal for now, just for now.” Okay, this. Let’s go back to the example of if your father’s in the hospital, going to hospital visits, talking to physicians, making appointments and follow-up appointments, you know, all of those things. They’re normal for now, this is how we’re going to do things for the time being. I remember when my youngest daughter had a pretty serious knee injury that required surgery, and we had a season during which she was on crutches, trying to get well enough to even have the surgery, like we had to get to a certain point before we could have the surgery, and then we had to go backward, right? and have the surgery and go back into crutches and a big leg brace for a long period of time. That season, all of the things associated with that, right? Her transportation requirements and the appointments and then the physical therapy appointments, you know, and luckily for us, it was, quote-unquote, just knee surgery, but it was really disruptive. And so adopting a, “Okay, this is what life looks like right now, she can’t go up and down the stairs, we’re going to have to set up a room for her on the first floor,” is just a like that’s an example that maybe is easy to wrap your head around of what normal for now might look like, again, whatever you are navigating. Getting your arms around this has changed and if I continue to try to do everything the way I was doing it before, it’s probably not going to work. That example with knee surgery is a season of challenge, right? This is a temporary disruption. I’m going to get through it. When I was talking at the very beginning of the episode about parenting through the stages of teenagers, you know, as they’re moving from childhood to early adolescence to late adolescence. That’s a sort of ever-evolving change. We have to keep picking up. Okay, well, that chapter is apparently over, here’s what’s normal for now. This chapter will end as well, this is what’s normal for now, you know, so there’s a kind of rolling sequence of change that can happen. So how do you do that? What are some of the things required of you that or that maybe would be helpful to you as you are trying to adopt this normal for now approach? Four of them that I want to talk about, the first one is giving yourself a moment to regroup, right? Regrouping is sort of your time to think and reassess, especially getting clear about what is in or out of your control in this season, what can I control, what can I not control, right? Where am I going to engage, where am I not going to engage, where is my time going to be really well spent, high return on that effort, where is my time maybe not so well spent, right? I am barking up the wrong tree with this kind of effort, that moment when I’m saying like regroup, this is what I think of as maybe a coffee shop moment. Maybe it’s an early morning, you know, you sit down in a chair with a notebook and a pencil and you’re thinking all right, how am I going to do this? How am I going to get regrouped here on what is really happening? I’m going to have to acknowledge reality. I got to think about the domino effect that this particular season is having in my life and start to think about where I’m going to make adjustments, right? Where am I going to have to make adjustments so that that sort of um, date with yourself. Maybe it’s a conversation with someone else. Maybe you talk to your spouse or your partner about it. Maybe you’re talking to a parent. Maybe you’re talking to a friend, but you can also do this alone just thinking through what is happening here and what do I really need to adjust?

Second thing that I think is very helpful is finding anchor points that can stay consistent, right? The simplest way to think about this is maybe what are your healthy rituals? What are the things you do that keep you, I am always saying, healthy, whole, and human, you know, like. The things that just make you feel solid and grounded. In your life, finding some anchor points that you can maintain that so you are clear like I am tethered to this and this at least has not changed. It can be elements of your faith life. It can be. It can be practices of mindfulness or quiet. It can be physical movement. It could be your eating habits. It could be your sleep schedule. You know what are things that you are going to sort of protect? You’re going to put boundaries up around them and say this is the thing that’s going to keep me vertical during the season, I’m going to really hold on to this as something that can in fact, stay the same, and then conversely, I want you to think about point 3, where can you intentionally lighten your load, right? If you’re carrying this new thing, if the change itself or the challenge itself is heavy, where can you intentionally lighten your load, and this looks like letting go, honestly, of some things that felt important before but now are nonessential, you know, these are like the nice-to-haves, and what I think is really important to underscore here is there’s like levels of defining nice-to-have, right? when everything is going along smoothly and you are in a smooth sailing chapter, you got room for a lot more nice-to-haves, right? um. They can start to even feel like must-haves. But when you’re in a season of challenge, when there’s a lot of turbulence, you kind of have to know how you would strip this down to the essentials. So lightening your load is saying what are some things that I am asking of myself. That I have no business asking of myself during this particular season, right? It’s just not time for this. Maybe you committed to it before all of this started. Maybe it sounded like a great time to do this particular thing. But now you know. Now you know that in this season, there’s just not going to be room for that. So that is something that um, I think is a continuous process. It’s a continuous reevaluation of can I take this on, and I’ll tell you some of these things might look like leisure, right? Some of them might look like work, you know, some of them might look like volunteer commitments, some of them might look like things that you normally would do around the house, but they’re either not going to get done at all or they’re not going to get done by you in this particular season. Um, this is where you might think about bringing in some outside help, right? I’m either from people that are already in your family or your work team or you might think about hiring incremental help, so that is definitely one way to intentionally lighten your load but it could just be saying I’m hitting I’m pressing pause on this, you know, I wanted to do this but I’m just. I’m going to press pause on it during this particular season because I am self-imposing this pressure and it doesn’t have to be that way. Okay, and then the last one that I want to talk about that’s really important is building, if you don’t have one or leveraging your support system, building or leveraging your support system. This is the power of having someone who can see what you can’t, someone who is. Outside the situation enough to preserve some objectivity, right? They can calibrate you on what is really happening. They are not looking at it from the inside, they’re looking at it from just outside, right? And so when you’re thinking to yourself like am I crazy? Am I losing it here or does this sound right to you or you know, I really cannot imagine any other way and you’re kind of stuck in a level of rigidity this support network could be one person, could be a small collection of people, can serve as a set of eyes and ears. You know they can provide perspective that you are probably not going to be able to find on your own so where I see this play out a lot in coaching is if I am coaching someone who is going through one of these seasons their ability to define independently what they can let go of is. Pretty limited because again our brains are so overloaded during these seasons. We can’t even really think straight and so sometimes I or other members of the coaching team are able to provide ideas to them that they’re like oh my gosh it never would have even occurred to me that that’s something I could lay down for now.

You know that’s something I could let go of. Sometimes there’s resources that can be really helpful in these seasons of challenge or change that can be provided from someone who has been there before, right? someone who has already walked that path and says oh I know what you do right? I know who you call. I know how this works. I know what the process is and if you are flying blind because you have never done this before right? This is new to you. Um, it’s so soothing to have someone sort of explaining to you. Let me kind of lay out what’s going to happen here in these next few paths and you can probably. Imagine you can think back to something you have been through that was true, something where you were like I just had no idea. Um I vividly remember this is a silly example maybe but being I was in the delivery room getting ready to have my first child and. Um, I called my best friend and said you know I was terrified of getting an epidural and I just remember saying to her like what is I just don’t know what to expect and she gave me a description of exactly what was going to happen like hey this is what’s going to have she had had this she had had her fourth child or was about to. And it was very clear to her like she could give me a description kind of the play by play settled me down so much again that wasn’t a season but that was the first of many many things about parenting that she was able to kind of unpack for me or explain to me as I was going through them. You might think about if you have been through a difficult illness right? Maybe you are a breast cancer survivor and you think about how you can pay forward to newly diagnosed friends or family members. Hey here’s what the path looked like here’s how things unfolded in those early days. It’s so powerful to have a guide or a collection of peers around you who can provide that perspective because they’re just outside the situation enough and it is in all of those examples I just gave you extremely powerful when they have been through the exact same thing. But sometimes you just need someone who can see it with less emotion and more objectivity so that it’s a really powerful tool that I don’t want you to look past. Okay, so let’s review a couple of things that I was sharing today. The first thing is what are the signs that you are in one of these seasons? You’re going to notice that your. Old ways of doing things maybe just aren’t working. They’ve worked forever and all of a sudden. They’re not, you might notice that your emotions are extra dialed up, the tears are coming easier. The anger is coming faster. Um, and you might notice that there is kind of a discrepancy between effort and output. You know that what you’re doing just isn’t delivering the same level of output because again you have this background hum running all the time of the challenge or the change that you’re trying to process and I was saying that the key, the number 1 thing I want you to take away is adopting a “normal for now” approach. Getting to acceptance quickly that this is reality now and it’s temporary, right? So that you can stop fighting what is and find a way to flow with it instead. We talked about giving yourself a moment to regroup, finding anchor points in your life that you can keep consistent, where you can intentionally lighten your load, and then building or leveraging your support system to help you through this particular season. So I hope that that gives you something to think about today. I hope that you can look at your life right now and say you know what, yeah, I think I am in one of these seasons and I can probably put my finger on why and I know what to do about it. And maybe it’s not an instant fix, but you can see a path forward. So thank you so much for being here on the podcast today. We will continue to bring you episodes like this every single week and I so appreciate your time and your energy. Have a great week everybody.

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