On February 6th, 2018, I tweeted out an article from the New York Times titled “The Six Steps to Turning Setbacks into Advantages”. In this article, the writer describes a framework on how to transform setbacks into opportunities. Authors Stephanie and Ama Marston describe it more depth in their book, “Type R: Transformative Resilience for Thriving in a Turbulent World”.
Initially, the six step process the article outlined didn’t seem groundbreaking. It reminded me of the classic change management book, “Managing Transitions” by William Bridges and Susan Bridges. Upon closer scrutiny, I saw that the big difference was to shift from simply managing transitions to thriving due to transitions. I tweeted about the book because I thought my readers could benefit from the authors’ focus on a growth mindset. Little did I know that life was about to test my own “Type R” mettle very shortly. I know I’ve been absent for awhile, and I will share my own “disrupting moment”, which I am actively working to transform into new opportunities.
Stage 1: The Comfort Zone
My husband, sons, and I loved our home, school, community, city, and over the years had made some very close friends in our neighborhood. We had many happy memories in our house. It was the first house my husband and I bought together, and shortly thereafter we married. We brought our two babes home from the hospital and watched them grow. They made friends with the other babies who had just been born and along with our neighbors, we watched them play and grow together. I became involved with community development work in my city, fell in love with the work and made friends with people in the city. It was a happy, good place to be in.
Stage 2: Disruption
In early February of last year, shortly after I posted the tweet on the 6th, my husband and I realized we could not count on our oldest son entering a middle school that we were happy with and that we felt he would be safe in. While we liked the local public elementary school, we did not want our oldest, who was about to finish the 5th grade, to attend the middle school our neighborhood was zoned for. The school was overcrowded and we were concerned about his safety there. We were therefore left with the difficult decision of either staying in our current home and sending him and eventually his brother to private schools, or moving to a new school district with excellent public schools. We made the incredibly difficult decision to leave our beloved home of 17 years and to move to a new school district.
Significantly, I realized that if we put our house up for sale, bought a new one, and moved, I would have to put on hold all of the plans I had made to grow my business in 2018 until we were settled in our new house and our sons were at least somewhat comfortable in their new schools. I have a full time and sometimes intense job, and going through the buying, selling and moving process was going to take all of my extra emotional and financial resources.
Stage 3: In the Middle of Chaos
My heart was indeed, heavy. Time passed, we did the needful and sold our house, found a new one, bought it, and moved in. At the same time and with no chance to avoid it, my work life became extremely intense. I reeled from the stress and blamed myself for not handling things better. We unpacked for months, registered our sons in their new schools, and got used to our new commutes. Through it all I experienced bouts of intense grief where I deeply missed my old house, my neighbors, their kids, and friends from my former city.
Stage 4: The Catalyst
I started working with a coach to help me through the transition (yes, coaches hire coaches. We know the benefits!). Through that work I came to some clarity and changed my perspective on what I had considered my shortcomings in handling both work and the move. I saw that I handled everything as well I could expect anyone to, let go of the self-blame, and opened myself up to all I could to offer the world. That breakthrough left me feeling free, lighter, and fired up! I began to tackle the remaining boxes in the house (deeply therapeutic!) and with my husband, set up our home office. It was then that I began to think about how I was going to go back to my blog and website. Each of these activities cleared physical and emotional space for me to get to a point where I could restart my business. I was reminded that it can help to work with someone who is removed from my situation to gain clarity and perspective.
Stage 5: Move Toward Something New
I began to organize events at work and a benefit concert with my a cappella group. Lo and behold I realized I enjoyed these activities. I started to think about how to use these skills in my business, began to reach out to my old contacts and networks again, and to develop a new business plan for myself. I began to read books on innovation and resiliency. It dawned on me that RESILIENCE and strategies to cultivate it need to be my focus in 2019.
Stage 6: Becoming Comfortable with Myself
I’m not sure I’m fully comfortable yet, but I’m ok with that. I’m comfortable with the level of discomfort I feel, if that makes sense, and I know I will get there. This is where my story ends for now in terms of the transformative resilience framework. It has been my pleasure to share my story with you through this lens. I look forward to generating more content, activities, events, and coaching on resilience for you in the coming year.