There’s usually a lot of excitement in the air in January, when the new year begins and we feel like we have the opportunity to start fresh. You know I have some thoughts about formal resolutions, but I like a new beginning – a chance to start with a blank slate – as much as anyone. Of course, beginnings can also bring with them the unknown, questions about our identity and maybe some anxiety about the unfamiliar. Who will we be in this new chapter? What should we expect from it? Will we be able to get comfortable? Well, sure you will, if you want to. But, it’s the discomfort that’s the interesting part, right?
You’ve heard me say this a million times by now, but it’s pretty tough to grow and evolve without a little discomfort. When you’re starting a new chapter – as many of you all in the MBA world are doing right now with orientations, back-to-campus transitions and post-graduation employment – growing “pains” are fairly inevitable. At the very least, there will be some awkward moments as you figure out what the landscape looks like in this new space in your life. It’s an opportunity, though, to push (or perhaps gently nudge) yourself out of your comfort zone to see what else is possible for you.
When anxiety bubbles up, find your breath. Connect with your body in this moment, right now, in the space you are occupying. It’s just new. You’re still there, just like you were before, and you can still make choices about how to respond. Try to be present enough in the experience, though, to make those choices intentionally, and to be open to seeing what different opportunities this new experience may hold. If you find yourself resisting, even just a little bit internally, notice that and don’t struggle with it. Just ask yourself to stay present for one more breath.
Even when it comes to change we are 100% excited about, it can be challenging to stay present. Excitement can send the brain abuzz, and make it difficult to make intentional choices. Even more so, because we are less likely to flag excitement as “uncomfortable,” we may be less likely to take the time to re-center in the midst of it. (Signed up for every club, committee, and social event, did you? Hmmm…) Make a habit of taking a few minutes each day to breathe, pay attention to where you are, and find your center. Your nervous system, and your calendar, may thank you.
Of course, you don’t need a new school year or a new gig to start fresh. New chapters can begin any day in big and small ways. Sometimes they are thrust upon us through unexpected change, and other times, we may have deliberately reset our page. Regardless, they give us the chance to reconnect with ourselves, to make deliberate choices, and to be present and connected to our own personal growth.
So go ahead and see what’s out there. It might be fun, weird, challenging, or even hilarious. You’ll only know for sure if you’re paying attention.
Photo credit: Nitin Dhumal
This post originally appeared MindfulMBA on August 10, 2016.