“Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent.”
Over the weekend I was fortunate to participate in my first “Medi Club,” a monthly gathering of urban-dwelling meditators. Medi Club is the brainchild of Jesse Israel who wanted to create a safe place for modern meditators that achieved three core goals 1) meditate with like-minded meditators; 2) discuss how meditation relates to issues like relationships, creativity, sex and work/life balance; and 3) deepen practice with new knowledge and interaction with the community. Here’s a little more context on what Medi Club is all about: ‘A Place for Modern Meditators.’ Last night’s theme was centered around transitions in life and work. This particular topic has been top of mind for Jesse because he’s in the process of finding a new path.
For many people, going through a career transition can be both exciting and scary. There’s so much unknown. What are people going to think of me? Can I survive without an income? What do I want to do with my life? Who should I talk with? What would make me happy? Who do I aspire to work with? How long will this take? So much is on the line. For many New Yorkers, a big part of our identity is tied to what we do for a living because it provides meaning and context in a dense city with eight million people. When our immediate existence is challenged, it’s only natural to feel anxiety and uncomfortable because there’s so much uncertainty. In my own career, I’ve found change is never easy but it’s a natural step in the process and it’s required to evolve into a better human.
In my own experience, career transitions have led to an incredible amount of personal growth. Most change forces us out of our comfort zone so we’re required to adapt. These moments provide us with a catalyst to learn new skills and explore new spaces. I’ve also found that transitions lead to meaningful new relationships. The people that we choose to spend our time with have a huge influence on our mental state and being. Building new relationships is one of life’s greatest gifts. Additionally, transitions provide an opportunity form new habits and break old ones. When we start something new, we can take a fresh approach and discard what hasn’t been working. Finally, being in a new environment often leads to enhanced creativity because we’re now able to see and connect more of the dots.
Since I’ve been through a number of life transitions including a few very scary ones, I wanted to share some bitesized advice for dealing. I believe this is a topic that’s top of mind for a lot of millennials but not many people speak openly about it. That said, I learned these principles since I was in high school by making a number of mistakes but having an open mind to learn from them.
- Take your time. Don’t jump at your first option and rush into a decision. I’ve found the options often get better the further I got into the process.
- Follow your passion. I always liked the question, "what would my job look like if I could match what I love, what I’m good at and what creates purpose.”
- Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help. Find smart and talented people to learn from and collaborate with. I’ve found most people are willing to share their perspective and open up their network to help others.
- Make time for YOU. Reflect on the transition and new opportunity. Think about what you want in work and life. Focus on you.
- Define what’s important. Purpose? Status? Money? People? Work? Creativity? Power? Control? Community? Love? Freedom?
- Revisit your values: Catalogue what guides you. By having a clear understanding of your values, you’ll gravitate towards or build an organization that’s built on similar principles.
- Take care of your body. Get sleep. Exercise. Go for walks. Eat healthy. Meditate. A healthy body and mind will help you see more clearly and make better decisions.
- Don’t stress about what people think. Remember, life is hard and chaotic for just about everyone. The majority of people aren’t worrying about your career and judging you. No offense. Use that energy to get your support network to help you.
- Build momentum. Remember that building momentum requires winning just a little bit every day. It’s not about the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s about the tunnel. Each small victory builds on the next.
- Trust your gut. My gut isn’t always right but it is most of the time. Listen to your intuition. Don’t ignore the energy or voice that’s pulling you in a certain direction.
- Give back. When you go out of your way to help others in need, magical and unexpected things start to happen.
- Keep an open mind. Life will take you on twists and turns so don’t rule out a certain path. Understand all of your options before making a decision and don’t rule out dream job scenarios.
- Travel. Getting out of the city is therapeutic and clears the mind. The world is often the best teacher.
This list is far from exhaustive but it’s the approach that has worked for me in the past. I hope you’ve found them insightful and inspiring. If you are currently going through a transition and are looking for some strength, don’t forget to take a step back and see the full picture. Everyone has to go through transitions and it’s all part of evolution. Remember that things don’t always go as planned following change. What matters is how you pick yourself up off the ground and deal with the next transition. Life is a just a series of cycles and each one can lead to profound personal growth. It’s a chance to constantly improve and be a better human, husband / wife, son / daughter, brother / sister, friend and colleague. I can’t think of anything more special and exciting than that.
Finally, a special thanks to Lodro Rinzler, meditation teacher and author of ‘The Buddha Walks into a Bar,’ for leading the meditation last night and sharing his thoughts on transitions. Your presence and insight was felt by everyone in the community.