Considering making any major life change—beginning or ending a relationship, making a career change, moving to a new city, etc.—can bring with it excitement as well as feelings of trepidation. You might wonder if this transition is something that you really want and what purpose and function it could serve in your life. You might also wonder if you have what it takes to be successful in this new endeavor or if you’re potentially setting yourself up to fail. Staying within your comfort zone might feel like the safer option. Or maybe you feel that you have the tenacity and persistence to enact change in your life, but still wonder if this specific change is something you should charge full speed ahead with or let it go.
I was recently discussing these ideas—when to know to move forward and really go after something new and when it’s time to stop banging our head against a wall and let an idea, relationship or transition go—with a friend who is a journalist. During our conversation, she related what I was saying to what is referred to as the “So What?” in journalism. She explained that in addition to determining topic, audience, tone and angle, when newsgathering, journalists often ask themselves about the “so what” of the story. What is it that makes this story relevant, important, relatable, timely and/or interesting to the intended audience? While finding and fostering the “so what” is an important part of writing a successful article, it occurred to me that “so what” is also an important question to be pondered when making any life change.
What Is Your So What?
When contemplating doing something new that excites and/or scares you, it is important to take some time to mindfully consider the “so what” of the change and why you are and/or want to do it. What is it about this life change that is important or interesting to you? What is the purpose of the change and what function could it serve in your life? Does or could the change bring a sense of vitality to your life? Is this a healthy risk that could lead to increased fulfillment and meaning? Or, on the flip-side, are you hesitant to make a specific change because of fear and a proclivity to play it safe? Sometimes, we avoid certain situations or fail to take an action because we worry that the outcome will make us feel uncomfortable, even when doing so keeps us stuck and creates harm in the long-run. If feeling fearful or stuck resonates with you and/or you want to free yourself from limiting patterns, check out my post on Breaking Free From The Comfort Zone.
If and when you have decided that making this life change is in alignment with your values and true self—and you’re ready to take the bull by the horns—what is the best way to ensure your success? And, let’s face it, success is in any endeavor is what we’re all seeking, right?
Turning Your “So What” Into Success
Enacting and acclimating to change can be hard, and it’s not often easy to make transitions and achieve lofty goals. We often need to be persistent, tenacious and sometimes get down into the grit. We might experience fear, discomfort and pain, however most things that are really worth doing are challenging—and without challenge and pain, we never really grow. Rather than expand our capacity and tolerance, we become stuck and softer. Like a muscle without use, our skills, ability to take risks and capacity for personal growth can atrophy. However, when we give ourselves permission to rise to a challenge and experience a full range of emotions, we build character and strength and develop a deeper understanding of who we truly are.
Even the toughest, most seasoned change-makers can get knocked down sometimes. Nothing, even perceived defeat is impermanent, however, which is the good news. While setbacks are common and almost expected, the following tips can help you keep going when the going gets tough:
- Keep your eye on the prize and revisit your “so what” for making this life change.
- Remind yourself of past successes and the strength, capacity and tolerance you have built over time—especially during the tough times.
- Remember that everything is impermanent and that the challenges, setbacks and roadblocks will pass.
- Create a personal word, phase or mantra that connects you to your why and return to it often.
- Identify your resources and find an ally. You don’t have to go it alone.
- Feel the fear and do it anyway! It’s just life and learning at the end of the day. Embrace it!
While making any change can be difficult and come with what-ifs, challenges and inevitable setbacks, when made in alignment with your values, the rewards in taking the leap into change can be great. What change(s) have you been considering enacting in your life? What’s keeping you from making them? And, what transitions in the past, while perhaps scary at the time, led to profound personal growth and an increased sense of meaning and fulfillment? Sometimes looking back at what worked in the past and the strength that we have cultivated over the years can help us move forward.