Transition is an Opportunity for Growth

07 Dec 2017
Posted by Shira Ronen

This past August, my husband and I took our 3 kids (ages 16, 14 and now 10) and dog, and moved to Northern California. It was an unexpected move for all of us to pursue a new career opportunity, and we decided to go for it.

I realized that in many ways, my cross-country move parallels what my coaching clients experience when they take on a new job. We traded in our well-worn routines in New York City for a new culture, new people, and a steep learning curve in a new environment.

Because this move took me out of my comfort zone, I viewed it as a huge growth opportunity and got to practice handling many of the challenges I coach executives on.

Here are a few tools that I’ve used (and continue to use) in my transition that you may find useful:

The only time you’re really growing is when you get outside your comfort zone
A colleague sent me this article when I told her we were moving. It rang true, and allowed me to embrace the change. After 21 years in NY, I was going to Silicon Valley, a place where I knew no one and frankly, had no prior desire to live in. But, I looked back at all the things I am now confident doing, such as living in NY, being an executive coach, being a mom – things I had no idea how to do several years ago. Looking back at the growth that was, allowed me to trust the growth that will be.

A new colleague introduced me to AFOG in our very first meeting at Stanford. AFOG stands for Another F***ing Opportunity for Growth. I now use this mantra for every disappointment, negative answer, and challenge I experience in this new environment. We’ve had so many of these moments since we’ve moved, big and small (when I couldn’t find my way to a meeting or when baseball practice was cancelled and no one notified the new kid). There were (and are) moments when I say “haven’t we had enough growth already?”  No. Growth never stops…whether you invite and create the opportunities for growth, or they fall on you unexpectedly, take them. Embrace them. Learn from them. And then move on.

Give yourself time
I’m a very patient person in some aspects, but less so with processes. I want to get to the end. But recognizing that these processes take time can actually have a calming effect. It allows us to embrace the growth opportunities: experiment, make mistakes, and correct them. Giving ourselves time also allows us to mourn the loss of the old (life, city, job, company) while finding moments of joy and pride in the new (role, friends, colleagues).

Invest in relationships
In new circumstances, whether you’re onboarding onto a new role or moving across the country, take the time to meet new people and build relationships with them. Even if this doesn’t come naturally to you, it will ease your adjustment. It’s like the stock market: You need to invest time to build the relationships and create self ‘equity’ so that later you’ll be ‘in the know’ and be able to move faster in getting things done.

Enjoy it
Find a balance day-to-day that allows you to not just be effective, productive, and successful but also to find joy in this change. Only four months into our new life in California, it is admittedly still a work in progress for me. But whether it’s meeting new friends or colleagues that enrich me with positive energy, finding a great pilates class (found!), or taking time to enjoy the new surrounding, it is important to take time to find the things in your new surroundings that will make you happy.

I hope this perspective on transition leaves you feeling well-equipped to tackle change as an opportunity for growth. Please email me with any thoughts or comments (or recommendations for San Francisco!).

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