When friends, colleagues, or coaching clients are thinking about making a big change in their lives, the question that I get asked most often is “How did you make the leap?” It’s true, I did manage to make several major life transitions in the course of a year. I ended a relationship, moved out of my apartment, and left behind my corporate consulting firm job to build an independent executive coaching and facilitation business. I left my friends and family in San Francisco to embrace a more nomadic, location independent lifestyle. For all appearances, it probably seemed quite sudden, swift, and seamless.
However, the idea of the "taking a leap" can be misleading. It is part of the sometimes dangerous lore of making major life changes. What may look like a sudden change is often the external, visible result of something that has taken a long time to build up to with many weeks, months or even years of unseen internal work and preparation.
It is true that big changes typically need some kind of major disruption to spark them. This is where we get the ideas of intensity that are reflected in the crucible effect or a milestone crisis moment. Transformation does require an interruption to your normal, repetitive patterns and routines. It requires something taking place to raise a level of awareness of the habits and choices that currently exist to hold your life in place.
Yet, once that interruption takes place and that awareness is sparked, the forward progression from there can be painfully slow and gradual, especially if it is not something that is consciously nurtured. The design and creation of a new way of working, a new way of living, does not take place overnight. Making a sudden move can help jar you into action, but without having the adequate mental, emotional, and practical readiness, it can also be a rude shock to the system that paralyzes you.
Creating an intentional change in your life is best supported by a sense of space and freedom. By removing old structures too abruptly, you can create the opposite effect. A feeling of being unsupported and undirected can spiral into unhealthy fear, causing you to contract, and actually working against the change you are trying to make. So instead of listening to all the voices telling you to “take the leap” or to “just do it”, consider how you can begin to build a bridge to your desired work-life, one brick at a time.