Dealing with emotions is the real work of change

Dealing with emotions is the real work of change

Change. An inevitable part of life that we can’t avoid, even though many of us spend a good part of our lives trying to. As creatures of habit, whether we choose to see this about ourselves or not, change forces us to become uncomfortable. To re-evaluate the ways in which we live our lives. Run our teams in the office. The job that we do. And this is where my own experience with change becomes quite raw, six months after I quit my job with no plan (The Branding Man came to life a few months later on a beach in the Philippines). It’s been an exciting experience. It’s scared me to death. It’s made me proud. It’s given me a new purpose. It’s caused me to feel isolated and alone at times. I’ve doubted myself. But I’ve survived the rollercoaster, so far, but there’s been a few emotional breaks along the way, and I wanted to use this week’s blog post to share a few of them with you.

The Plateau
Throughout most of my career at EY I was incredibly content. Happy. And why not? I had a hugely successful tenure leading on their apprenticeships employer branding. Countless awards recognising my work. My efforts. But what became apparent in 2017 was that I had started to plateau and wasn’t pushing myself anymore. It made coping with a demanding job incredibly difficult. It wasn’t that I couldn’t be bothered, what I came to realise was that I’d achieved everything I had set out to and it was time to move on.

The Jump
I am/was a risk averse person twelve months ago. If someone had told me in October 2017 that twelves months from then I would have quit my job, without a plan, gone travelling around parts of Asia and spent the summer working on the launch of my own (self-funded) business I’d have told you that you were bonkers. However, jumping was in fact the easiest part. It’s taught me to live each day as it comes - or to try to. My anxiety does still get the better of me sometimes and I spiral off into the land of ‘what if’ but for me that’s healthy. It keeps me grounded and focused on achieving my goals.

The Reality Check
The biggest emotional challenge I’ve experienced so far has come from confusion. Confusion about how the rest of the world works, outside of EY, which I’m not positioning as some utopia here, but I had become someone governed by processes and in some respects sheltered from the madness of the world. I’ve also had to get my head around the day-to-day running of a business - the biggest confusion here (ironically given my previous employer) has been book keeping. It continues to boggle my mind daily.

The Laptop Lifestyle
Sure there are perks to working where you want, when you want but it’s hard to switch off and find structure in my day, week, months when I’m in charge all the time, and when I’m running to a different schedule. It dawned on me last week over lunch with a friend that this is the first time in my life when my life, personal or professional, has not been governed by an academic calendar. Since the age of 4. It’s taking time to adjust, honestly but what it is allowing me to focus on is the real reason I jumped…

Putting Myself First
Starting from scratch has been one of the best decisions of my life. Yes, it’s idealistic and not everyone can afford to do it, but I could and I needed to. At the end of 2017 I was burning out. Unfocused. Stressed. Unhappy. Everything was coming before myself, and that was the biggest change that had to be addressed. Six months later, and I’ve found a new rhythm for myself. I’ve found time to write. To read. To pause. To rest. To sleep! I know that as The Branding Man grows and becomes it’s own animal that a busier life will resume but it will be a life built around these new priorities. The ones that are, largely, doing a pretty good job of keeping my emotions in-check right now!

How do you tackle change?
I’d love to hear your change stories. Either leave your thoughts in the comments or drop me an email at steve@thebrandingman.co.uk

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