Most people I know (myself included) hold onto a relationship, job, way of eating, or situation long after its expiration date – the point where it is clear that it is time to leave. We just allow it to become more and more uncomfortable, sometimes even toxic. We don’t take responsibility and make the shift ourselves, and we don’t take the time to prepare for the shift. Instead, we wait until it is so uncomfortable that it shoves us out, like a bird being kicked out of the nest by its mom. We want the person we are dating to dump us, rather than us saying that it is no longer working. How many friendships do you hold onto that you really do not enjoy any more, simply because you are “supposed” to? Perhaps we want our employer to let us go, rather than recognizing and owning we do not fit anymore and choosing to leap in a way that feels good for us. Sometimes the right thing to do is to wait for that severance package; but other times it is to make the leap.
Many people I work with hold onto a part of their lives well past the expiration date. When we do this, we create more and more chaos in our lives. Before the expiration date, we begin receiving signs from the universe that it is time to go. When I was younger, I would simply follow this flow. Then, I was in a relationship with someone who created a story that I bought: “You are running away from things and need to buckle down more.” This story permeated every arena in my life. Every time I wanted out of the relationship and told him, he would tell me again that I was running away from responsibilities and I would buy this story while stuffing down my body’s screams to run far far away. I no longer believed my body when it was telling me it was time to jump.
What I was actually doing was holding myself back from growing and evolving the way that I actually desired. It created more and more issues in my life. I stopped believing in myself and what I felt that I needed. I stayed in relationships (romantic and friendships) well past the expiration date. I stayed in jobs and careers long after I was no longer excited, happy, and curious. I shoved down my inner knowing which was crying out to me that it was time to move on. I held on tighter and tighter to things that I had outgrown and I did not want any more.
We all outgrow relationships, jobs, and situations. This is healthy and normal. Change is a fundamental piece of life. It is also fun to have new experiences, as we learn so much about ourselves through them. The goal, if you will, is to learn how to listen to our need for a change, and to start preparing for it as soon as we start getting the itch. This means starting to save money and spend less so you have more of a nest egg to rely on. It means creating a healthy support network. This is the same as preparing to have a baby – you create a safe and healthy container for the baby to come live in. When we take the time to do this, our transition periods feel much more grounded and stable, and we are able to weather the storms of change.
Walking away does not mean you are good or bad, it simply means it is time for a new direction in your life. It does not mean that the old relationship or job was good or bad either. Walking away can be the best decision you could ever make and open up opportunities that you would never have known were even possible. If I had not walked away from the man I had been dating previously, I would not now be living every couple of years in a different country, and I would not be in an incredible marriage that challenges me to grow all of the time. Because I was willing to walk away, a space opened up for my greatest desire – to be with someone who embraced change and new experiences as much as I do.
Now, when the desire to make a leap starts to show up, I pay attention to the first itch. From that moment, I start making a plan.
- What can I do to make this transition as smooth as possible?
- What is needed to create a healthy foundation so that I feel relatively safe through the experience?
- How can I cut expenses to be able to create this change being possible?
- What do I need to let go of or downsize?
- Do I have back up plans in case things go wonky through the transition like unexpected expenses?
- What is my action plan for going about creating this transition?
- Can I slowly transition or do I need to simply take a leap?
- What type of support do I need from those around me to make this possible and smooth?
When we take the time to seriously evaluate and look at these questions in advance, we can create an incredible transition phase. It needs only simple adjustments when wonky things we do not expect are thrown our way.
An example from my own life: A few years ago, I moved from the US to the Netherlands, with two dogs and a cat to be with my partner. I researched what it would take to move the pets, and scheduled appointments for them, got the right crates, and worked out how much all of it would cost. I did research on myself and what was needed for me to move. We also needed to find a place for all of us to stay.
I then suddenly found out that there is a period of time in which animals are not allowed to fly, and we had to move up our move date. Because of the planning I had already done, this adjustment was easy to make. I had a friend willing to assist me and fly with me so that we could pull this off. This was an added, but necessary expense. We did not yet have a home, but we had a room we could stay for the short term, and this worked quite well. Two days after arriving, I located an apartment that allowed pets, after none being found for months, and we moved in.
A couple of weeks later, I returned home to complete the sale of everything I owned, pack up the rest of my stuff, and get boxes mailed to the Netherlands. The boxes ended up being returned and are still at my parents’ home even though I did a ton of due diligence to make sure they would easily make the move.
When I arrived back in the Netherlands, I found out that another shift had occurred: I had to meet with the Alien police (immigration police) as registering my name with the city apparently cancelled my 3 month tourist visa and I had only 30 days to apply for permanent residency. My 30 days was up. This piece was nowhere in anything that I had researched online.
My partner and I went together to meet the Alien police. There was a man walking around dressed as if he had just stepped out of Miami Vice. He kept walking back and forth. I knew instantly he was the man we were meeting with, but he continued to keep us waiting. Eventually he came over and took us into an interrogation room. He had me tell him about the situation. I was honest about the whole thing as I had nothing to hide. We were already meeting with an immigration lawyer later that day and thankfully had the money for that process because of doing due diligence of making sure to have excess money saved. He tried to rattle and scare me saying that he was going to deport me within 24 hours and that I would be banned from the EU for 5 years. I didn’t buy his story. He did not like that I didn’t buy his story. Then he said he would make a call, but he did not have to. Again, I refused to go on his ride as I knew I did not need to be afraid. While he was gone, we even discussed alternatives like me going to another country for a bit then coming back as we had friends I could stay with.
After he came back, he said that he had gotten me an extended stay and then gave me a lawyer to contact, and tried to discredit the one we were planning on meeting that afternoon. It felt off. He then scratched the lawyer’s name off but made sure we could still read it. Then he said that he had to complete the paperwork and that I needed to come back later in the day to pick it up alone. I did not trust him on any level. We left to go grab lunch and came back when we were told to. He did not like that both of us came back together. In fact, he had me go with him alone so he could try and intimidate me. I refused to play his game, but he did tick me off enough that in a different situation I would have punched him and I am not a violent person. He was also trying to make us miss our appointment in Amsterdam with our immigration lawyer.
We were late to our appointment, but they had no issues with adjusting it for us with the situation going on. Our lawyer was awesome! He was completely blown away by what was occurring as this is incredibly uncommon in the Netherlands even for those from countries that are deemed higher risk. We put together my case for seeing immigration and he did tell me that they may tell me that I am not allowed to work for a bit, but it should be around 3 months.
After our meeting, we set up to meet with the immigration authorities soon after. They were also blown away by my experience, but pretended not to be. While there, I learned that I was not allowed to work in the country until my case made it through the system. Again, thankfully money was saved so this was not a tremendous burden. At the end of the 3 months, I had to go back in for them to extend my stay as my paperwork was still in the system. By the time we left, my case still had not made it through the system.
My pre-planning, while not perfect, helped tremendously along the way. Without the planning, the curveballs thrown our way could have been devastating. We adjusted to everything thrown at us because we had done extensive planning beforehand. I had an excellent support team from my friends, family and partner (now husband) to create this occurring. Having others to rely on and assist when needed – with practical help or emotional support – is essential.
When we take the time to settle and plan our transitions, things can go much more smoothly. We will still get annoyed or frustrated, but we will have the ability to adjust accordingly. Taking the time to slow down and plan before making a leap, any type of leap, can make it a phenomenal experience. It becomes fun and playful, instead of stressful and panic-inducing.
Of course, sometimes quick leaps occur with minimal pre-planning time. You do the work in your life so that, when these types of quick leaps occur, you are prepared for them as much as possible and can handle the shifts. Doing practices such as meditation, writing practices, and exercise regularly assist with handling these changes so that you can make it through the adjustment period more smoothly. This is no different than practicing scales and your music before a big performance so that you are prepared and ready for whatever may be thrown your way.