In my previous episode called ‘You are the answer’ I talked about the results on my business that my sabbatical had.
Namely all the changes I made before taking time off – new website, new brand, new systems – and how they initially negatively affected the business.
I think this is partly because it was too much change all at once.
Now, fortunately the changes are making a positive impact on my business and the results we track weekly. But it seemed pretty dire at the time!
Then I realized that this happened in my personal life too, with the complete 180 degree flip I’ve made since April.
I tell you, business is one thing but massive life changes are something else!
As Shana Aborn said in her article Coping with Life Changes:
“For many of us, disruption to familiar routine sparks anything from mild anxiety to extreme terror.
Maybe something’s been pushed on us, like being downsized or getting sick. Just as likely, we’ve made a risky but necessary choice, like relocating to a new town or having our elderly parents move in with us.
Shift happens, like it or not—that’s part of the human adventure. Then why do we resist so much?
It’s partly a natural fear of the unfamiliar. People think of change as something dangerous. But it helps to remember all the ways your life has been altered in the past and realize that not only did you not keel over and die, things often turned out for the better.”
I’ve never been afraid of change, I’ve always welcomed it with open arms. The very nature of how I’ve lived my life for the last seven years is testament to that fact.
Changing locations every couple of weeks has meant a constant barrage of change – new surroundings, often a new language, new people to meet and things to learn – all the time.
This is something that many people find daunting, but I really love.
Or did, until that time that I felt like slowing down a little, having a base I can call my own and being surrounded by more nature, less fast paced city life.
But the changes I made come April 5th, when Josh and I flew back from Bali to move into our new property, a huge house with 2.5 acres of land, have actually thrown me completely.
It was too much change, too fast and I completely underestimated this.
While my friends and community were quick to point out that it was a massive shift in how I live my life and that it must be quite the shock, I saw it as exciting.
Let’s put it in perspective.
- I went from constant full-time travel out of my suitcase to living in one house, with no international travel for the first three months of being back in New Zealand.
- I went from being single in December to a loving full-time relationship, and moving in together in my apartment for a few months, to then buying a house together, creating joint bank accounts and taking on this beautiful property – Josh’s first ever property ownership.
- I went from zero responsibility to this mortgage, getting a puppy a week after moving in and five chickens the week after.
- From owning so little stuff to having to furnish a 369 sqm house with four bedrooms and two living rooms in just a few weeks. (People who visit us now say how it looks like we’ve lived here for years).
- I went from a full on business period, getting it ready for my sabbatical and writing the Freedom Plan book manuscript which I finished on March 30th, to NO work.
- And I went from eternal summers traveling the world to my first ever autumn (fall) and winter. And that was probably the biggest kicker – I hate being cold.
So with all that in mind, no wonder I’ve had moments of doubt, and even mild depression – or more rather feeling simply lost.
I had literally taken everything that is my identity – travel, my suitcase entrepreneur brand, business and singledom and thrown it out the window!
Too much change all at once.
It didn’t hit me straight away, but I can definitely see the path now, and why even just a few weeks ago, I was still feeling demotivated and lost.
The initial three to four weeks were pure excitement due to what I term ‘Project Set up House’ which involved constant daily checking of Trademe.co.nz (like eBay and Gumtree) and winning auctions and buying used furniture.
I was shopping for house stuff, and then going to collect it via trucks we hired – doing it DIY style – super fun by the way, but a lot of organization and effort.
Then it became settling in and a few ongoing projects and trips to get other things we needed ike bins and ‘domestic bliss’ items as I call them, that you just don’t realize you need until you’ve been living in a house for a while.
Next up we collected Kayla, my adorable White German Shepherd eight week old puppy within just one week of moving in.
To be honest I had NO idea how much energy a puppy has and how much attention and training you need to do with them, and for yourself.
It was constant supervision and learning, coupled with lots of beautiful moments, followed by pain, bites, scratching, peeing, pooping and me yelling or losing the plot.
Now I know how it feels to have a low maintenance kid over an intense period!
Yes it’s like having a kid, but luckily you can put them in their happy place (aka crate) when you need some time out.
That was my other problem, I spent too much time with Kayla, wanting to be the best puppy Mum and learning as much as I could through books and videos about her training.
I didn’t give myself time out, instead I became rather isolated out in our home at the same time Josh’s business schedule turned into a full on one, that saw him leaving the house on the 6:45am train and getting back after 7pm.
For a social butterfly like me I severely underestimated how much human connection I crave and require to feel motivated, valuable and helpful.
Not having the workload from my business was pure bliss but at the same time quite a transition as it’s all I know.
And to not have to worry about it suddenly meant I threw myself into online learning taking a number of interesting and varied courses on areas I don’t know much about.
I also had to train myself not to watch, monitor and get caught up in what other entrepreneurs were doing.
Hence the previous episode about not playing the comparison game but instead being your own No #1 fan and believing in your abilities.
At one point I was raring to dive into something new and start a fresh business project, but I restrained myself as I knew, at that stage, I didn’t have enough energy yet for that.
It also wasn’t the solution I was after. I just needed to be and stop doing.
Which brings me to a conversation I had last week with my dear friend Gideon Shalwick, who himself has gone through many reinventions himself in the last four years, from personal brand and video expert, to starting a new video software business and more.
He’s been digging into and learning a lot about the Universal Cycles of Change via Tim and Kris Hallbom over at The Wealthy Mind.
I had never heard about it, so before I share our snippet of conversation I wanted to give you and I some background on it because it’s juicy stuff and it’s important.
Universal Cycles of Change
According to the Academy of Leadership Coaching and NLP there are seven change patterns that govern our lives.
In a business context, leaders who are able to embrace this cycle often emerge stronger and more emotionally aware and understand how to best support themselves and their team members through change.
The word creation evokes pictures of new beginnings. It is the beginning of a new life event – the starting point that typically begins with an idea or an action.
This could be the start of new business, or a new stage of leadership development.
Creation marks the point where we begin our journey. It is an “X” marks the spot kind of moment – and once we move from that location, a new journey starts.
From the moment creation begins we start to grow. We develop and become “self-organizing.”
This means is that once the creation takes place, new patterns of behavior start to develop, and the system organizes itself around the original creation.
For example once a new business is launched, the business owner needs to start making plans – this could be product development, marketing plans, new clients and new staff.
The business has taken its shape as a business (it was created), and now it is starting to grow.
- Steady State
A steady state is a place of great comfort.
It has past the point of creation and through the pains of growth to a place of what feels like you have arrived. It is a place where all systems are go and are firing correctly.
Everything is moving forward as planned and everyone is in their sweet spot. It is a position to which most leaders aspire.
And, if leaders are not careful, it can also become a point of complacency which will inevitably lead to the next phase in the cycle
I have heard it said that we are either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis or heading back into a crisis.
Turbulence occurs when the system becomes too complex, or we become lax in our preparation, and problems begin to develop.
Times of turbulence can be viewed in two ways depending upon the maturity of the leader. They can be used as a warning sign to right the ship and get back on track, or they can be ignored.
Ignorance, however, often leads to chaos.
Chaos is when the system begins to fall apart.
It is past the point of the bumps and jolts of turbulence to a full blown tail spin. It is the time when leaders need to take control before something catastrophic happens.
- Dropping Off
Dropping off is the point of acceptance for many leaders. It is often the lowest point in the cycle of change.
The point when an individual has no other recourse but to let go and move on.
It could be closing a door on a failed business and moving elsewhere or getting rid of a caustic employee. It can be painful, but also should be viewed as an important turning point in the cycle.
It is the point when a leader takes control.
In order to move forward through a difficult life challenge, we often need to let go of a limiting belief, a dysfunctional relationship, change a behavior or reorganize how we view the world.
This allows us to make the space to create something wonderfully new.
- `Meditation & Dormancy
Meditation and inward silence (dormancy) are the final point in the Universal Cycles of Change.
Just as a tree stands without leaves in the brisk cold winter, leaders need to “be” like the tree, standing in the moment and accepting who they are and where they have been placed.
It might be uncomfortable for a while, but meditating and inward silence can be very healing and ultimately can set the tone for a new Universal Cycle of Change, creativity and growth.
So now you have that context, let’s pick up with Gideon and I.
Gideon: “I am so glad that you took that sabbatical.
It’s so important that you go through this stages of the droppings off, and the shedding where you let go or prune something off, and then you just have a break.
If you jump straight from the chaos stage to a new creative cycle, then you end up taking that back with you and you don’t rest.
You are just depleting the tank more and more.
So you might get a bit of energy from this new creative process but if you didn’t deal with that previous cycle properly, it holds you back on the next cycle.”
Natalie: It’s so true because I think back to where I’ve tried to step back a little before and take a small break. It helps you for a little.
Then there have been times where you’ve been excited by say, maybe another business idea.
But I am really proud of myself because I have had that moment and I thought, ‘Is it just exciting because it’s totally new and therefore it gives me energy right now?’
What about coming back to what I’ve got and getting re-energized about the stuff that I know I love and I’m good at, and that’s where I think I’ve got to on that stage now.
But I needed that break and then I needed to come back with a new perspective and go, “You are not throwing all that hard work away, all that credibility and all the things you’ve built up.”
Just come at it with a fresh perspective and improve upon the bits that you really believe in and you think are amazing.
And that’s why with the Freedom Plan I have this whole new perspective about it. I want to have this freedom tracker, some apps and make it world class.
And that is new to me yet that’s my core offering. So that’s where I came to in this circle as you said.
Gideon: We understand this cycle and that each stage is really important. It gives you perspective but also patience.
For this latest cycle that I went through, I realized that I was actually in the rest phase. Previously I would try and rush it.
But then I just went “Screw it.
I am not going to push anything. I am just going to sit back and I don’t care what happens.
I am going to let the universe share me what is the next step.
When have you found yourself rushing into the next thing because it feels energizing?
Only to realize after a few months your energy is depleted again and your motivation is waning. As Gideon points out, that’s because you really haven’t dealt with the shit that was holding you back or troubling you before. You’ve just transferred your attention on to the next bright shiny object.
Back to my business sabbatical story….
I had a beautiful period where the weather was amazing, where I could finally take Kayla out into the public (post her vaccinations), and we started discovering beautiful nature bush walks.
I also was loving the house more and more, as well as pottering in the garden and being outside.
I was becoming truly grateful for this amazing location and our joint vision for what it could become.
I had new friends I’d made starting to come over each Tuesday for coworking sessions and things felt good.
But then things shifted.
Josh wasn’t here at all during the weekdays, our workouts in our crossfit barn gym had stopped, the weather was getting colder and the novelty of this new life started wearing off.
I’d scan my Instagram and Facebook feed to see beautiful photos and videos of friends in exotic locations and for the first time ever I could see how my life ‘used’ to look to others – damn it looked amazing.
The odd thing was I didn’t want to be there, but I did want the feeling of what they were experiencing.
And I missed Portugal – as I would have been there in my three bedroom town house and learning to surf, if we hadn’t bought here.
So how did I get myself out of this funk of too much change?
Well it took some work. It helped that my Science of Happiness course was taking me through the stages of empathy, kindness, compassion and mindfulness.
I was putting that into practice.
I talked it through with friends, I read up a little on it, and mostly I stepped back to see what was really going on to change how I was feeling.
In Shana’s article, she shared this advice, that I hope is valuable for you if you’re going through change:
“Fighting what’s happening just leads to frustration and keeps you from growing to your full potential. When you try to put your life in a box and keep it the same all the time, you’re making something dead out of it.
Welcoming new things can even be good for your health. People who greet what life offers with curiosity have stronger immune systems and live longer.
The first step is realizing that even though you can’t control what pops up in your life, you can alter how you react. When change happens, say yes. Learn and grow from it.
Taking a live-in-the-moment attitude will help keep you from miring yourself in what-ifs and should-haves.
The most important thing to remember, though, is that you already have the inner resources to make the most out of anything that comes your way.
Bring out your natural resiliency by taking a look at how you can deal with six of life’s most common upheavals.”
How I handled it was slightly different. I pretty much NEVER get down or depressed, but after two many weeks of waking up and feeling lost, unmotivated and down, Josh and I had a heart to heart, and here’s what I came up.
Five Ways To Get Yourself Over Too Much Change All At Once
And here are my five tips.
- Focus on quality time.
We both agreed to make more time for each other, that he would get some time off teaching in his business and we’d take long weekends or have days together here at home. Essentially we’d spend more quality time together.
As an entrepreneur I appreciate some periods in your life are just going to be crazy and full on and you need to show up to them 100%, and Josh is going through one of those periods.
But I could also see how it was draining him and therefore me, even though we supportive of each other.
Once we acknowledged that things became a lot better instantly and we felt so much more connected.
- Make time for you.
I started putting Kayla into dog daycare once a week and heading into town to cowork, meet with friends and entrepreneurs and enjoy the city vibe.
I also started meeting more people in the area we now live, making friends and going for dog walks, having them over to visit or visiting them and making time for lunches or meetups.
- Wallow where necessary.
That may sound odd but too quickly we try to come up with solutions and find the answer.
I purposefully wallowed in how I was feeling, on the good moments and bad ones and asked myself how I was feeling, what did I think the cause was and could I shift it with an attitude reset, or a change in activity or scene?
Practicing mindfulness, like I discussed in this Mind Your Mindfulness really helped to be aware and present, and not listen to the voice inside my head, that at the time, was not helpful at all!
- Embrace the seasons.
I’m a summer baby, but this has been a particularly beautiful winter in New Zealand with more sunshine than ever. We are also blessed to have two fantastic woodburners that pelt out the heat.
So I started to appreciate clear blue skies on these wintery days, the sunshine and the opportunity to rug up and go walking with my gorgeous puppy.
I also got over my minimalist suitcase self, and simply bought warmer clothes which made me feel much better and more inclined to get out and about.
I lit more fires, drank more hot herbal teas and nourished myself with homemade soups.
I also started the 30 Day Yoga Challenge with Adrienne – can’t recommend her free YouTube Channel enough. She’s an angel.
I notice the effects of yoga on my body and mind very quickly. I felt amazing.
The seasons are here for a reason, as I read in Elizabeth Peru’s Global Energy Report (if you’re into that kind of thing, I’m experimenting with reading it daily and taking what I need from it).
Winter is the time for focused project work and doing, spring is time for launching and summer is the time to take off and enjoy the fruits of your labour.
So I am focusing my efforts on upgrading and transforming my content, my Freedom Plan program and my offerings.
- Learn, grow and relearn.
A lot of the stories that were circulating in my head simply needed to be replaced with better ones. I needed to take control of my own attitude and focus on what I wanted.
Even when I got sick and was feeling less than sure on what the heck I was doing, I knew that it was up to me to CHOOSE what I wanted to happen.
And for me that meant reading inspiring books – both novels and business related, learning new things from online courses, meeting new people and getting involved.
Like running popup coworking trials in Upper Hutt to connect with more entrepreneurs (and making the news).
I coupled this with relearning.
A big part of my sabbatical was to get a fresh perspective and I’ve since fallen back in love with the foundations of why I started my business and what made it successful in the first place.
I’ve been conducting interviews with Freedom Plan Alumni members and getting jazzed up at making it a World Class experience when I relaunch it in spring.
I’ve been doing interviews for podcasts and sharing my story and this new story and it’s been super cathartic for me and great for the interviewers who’ve loved hearing the rawness of it.
I’ve taken opportunities I’d been saying no to on my sabbatical and they’d reenergized me and fed my soul.
It led to me being on stage with Roger Hamilton at Fast Forward Your Business the day I was officially back in business, and getting interviewed by NBR (National Business Review) this week!
And while in Melbourne Josh and I did our three year Life Plan together which was huge, because I finally had the clarity and energy to know what I want out of life, business and love over the next three years.
So those are my five major takeaways on my Quest for Freedom….for now.
And it seems a solid place to round out Season 2 before embarking on next season where I’m going to head into the realm of Self Learning and Mastery.
Never lose sight of the ability to design your freedom lifestyle around what you most want.
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