Habit is a crazy thing.
Our electricity is out. As I am talking to Sam about the problem, I walk into the next room and switch the light “on”. Though I know there is no electricity, walking into that room initiates an automated turning on of the light. Habit, in defiance of reality.
Habits, those unconscious patterns moving us through our day, anchor us into rhythms. Habits’ fierce protection of the status quo establish routines, freeing up our limited mental energy for creative and critical thought.
And here lies a root of one of the challenges of transition. All those things done unconsciously now require thinking that pulls hard on your already diminished creative energy. Just when you need to be on your decision making game, there is a significant lack.
I needed coffee this morning. With no electricity, we have no way to heat water. So I had to develop a plan, considering options of sources and when they open, which in turn initiated thinking through alternate timing for my rearranged morning.
A disrupted simple task triggered a complex web of decisions for a process that was automatic the day before. Decision fatigue is real, my friends.
Wonderfully, transitions provide opportunities to recreate rhythms that are more sustainable and life-giving. But woefully, often there is not enough energy available to really think through options, so we fall into the trap of taking the path of least resistance. Which then becomes your habit and the next thing you know you are switching on nonexistent lights.
It takes time and energy to establish new rhythms of body and soul.
What to do? What to do?
First, acknowledge you are in a new season, requiring different things of you. You’ve entered the Twilight Zone. (Cue music)
The moment you made the decision that is bringing change to your life, you took your first step on a journey. The destination may still be months or miles away, but in that moment you started letting go of your current reality.
The process William and Susan Bridges call “inner repatterning and sorting” commenced and priorities, probably unconsciously, began to shift internally, causing the structure of the old patterns of your lifestyle to begin to weaken.
You realize you can’t simply add the tasks of transition on top of your current routines without feeling the weight. Eventually, something has to give. Or crash, boom, bang.
So, here are a few tips to keep you from tumbling down the rabbit hole.
- Trade time management for energy management. Rest when you need to rest. Yes, take that nap when your to-do list becomes your enemy.
- Create margin in your time, energy, and finances. Transition always takes more withdrawals in these three than you think it should.
- Write stuff down. Even if you don’t normally keep lists, preserve some mental space by moving things from your head to paper.
- Stir up holy imagination early in the process. Dream a little about ideas for new rhythms. The in-between is full of opportunity to innovate and redefine.
- Take inventory. What is working now that you want to preserve? What will it take to transfer those habits into your new location? And what is not working that you’d like to change? What will you need to make that happen? You can always revise your plan based on what you find in your new situation, but having an intention in front of you increases the likelihood of establishing rhythms that breathe life instead of suck energy.
- Put some decisions on hold. There are 10,001 things to figure out, but not everything has to be in place on Day One. Purposefully choose a few decisions that can wait, write a notation on your calendar when you’ll make that decision and put that one aside until then.
- Build temporary structures that help you function. When remodeling your bedroom, you don’t need curtains and matching pillow shams. You need a place to sleep. Think through what you really need (and if you have kids, put their needs at the top of the list). Be okay with a little chaos and flexibility in other areas. Stretch your adaptation muscles.
- Create a few quick win goals. And then celebrate those wins, big and small. Happy dance, anyone?
- Get some godly counsel. Hire a coach. Find someone to help you process your lifestyle, work habits, soul rhythms, and provide the support, accountability, and encouragement you need to stay sane and get to a healthy place in your new situation.
Big changes always have that unknown, murky middle that feels like the wilderness between your two somewheres. It’s what Marilyn Ferguson calls the “place in between… like being between trapezes. It’s Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There’s nothing to hold on to.”
Except there is. He is the One who never changes.
You can trust Him and His work in the dark. New life is being knit together in the womb. Wings are growing in the cocoon. Seeds are germinating in the ground.
Keep your eyes wide open for ways God is shepherding you. And when we obey Him, every path He guides us on is fragrant with His lovingkindness and His truth. Psalms 25:10 (TLB) Look! He is there.
Share you best tips for staying sane in the midst of change.
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