•7 Ways to Deal with Changes in Your Life•
When I was a competitive dancer/cheerleader (about a hundred years ago!), I worked with a choreographer who always had these STEP-PIVOT-PAUSE combinations in every one of his dance routines. Every. Single. One. For you non-dancers out there it just means you take a step, turn around until you’re facing another direction, then hold it there for a beat or two with a sassy smile. It’s a pretty simple move, but it can look amazing when executed with just the right attitude…Think Beyoncé or any TikTok dance challenge.
Whenever a new routine was being introduced, all of the dancers would joke. “Uh-oh, I feel a STEP-PIVOT-PAUSE coming on!” Our teasing never fazed the choreographer, though. He’d simply remind us that this combo was our time to breathe, to connect with the audience, and to rest our muscles before the next big move.
I don’t think that man realized what a life-lesson he was teaching us. And I’m quite certain we were all too young and stupid to absorb it at the time. This is me saying THANK YOU now!
I mean, that’s what living life is, right?
We all start on a path – STEP
Something’s going to happen where we’ll have to turn onto a different path – PIVOT
Then we’re going to need a moment to breathe, connect, and get ready for whatever’s coming next - PAUSE
Sassy smile optional, but trust me, it helps.
Perhaps you’ve been preparing for a major change like getting a new pet, starting or ending a relationship, a move to a new town, changing jobs, or even retirement.
Then there are the pivots we can’t plan for…Lookin' at you, COVID-19 Pandemic, and all that came with You - shutdowns, virtual everything, new cooking and food-ordering skills, time apart from and/or trapped with loved ones, mask battles, vaccine battles, and universal side-eye every time someone coughs!!
For me, the some of the pivots of the last 2 years meant the “You Sure That’s Healthy” podcast being immediately shut down, just as we’d started gaining listeners all over the world. It meant my son graduating middle school and starting a brand new high school in his bedroom. It meant my husband postponing crucial spinal surgeries until we could be sure he’d be safe in hospital. It meant losing loved ones. It meant figuring out how to teach my clients online, in whatever virtual connection we could make happen, with whatever small fitness equipment & iPhone stands Amazon could deliver. Then, once back in the world, fitting the virtual and the now in-person sessions AND Los Angeles traffic into my new regular schedule.
Every change in our lives, planned or surprise, is followed by a period of time when we need to think about what the next steps are going to be. Then there’ll be a period of time when we actually take those steps, most of which will be messy and uncomfortable. Yeah, I’m all for positive-thoughts-manifesting-new-realities, but the All Thoughts/No Actions approach is the formula for binge-watching, not for dealing with the turns of life. Since the only constant is that change will constantly happen, it’s a good idea to have few tools to help us through.
7 Ways to Deal with a Pivot in Your Life
Our lives are the sum of countless combinations of steps, pivots, and pauses. Most of the time we’re in a light state of panic when we deal with these twists and turns.
Who am I kidding? Most of the time we’re in a tears-streaming, fists-to-the-sky, anguished-wail of despair when the proverbial monkey wrench gets thrown into our plans!
So, what if instead of spazzing out, we try the following:
1. Breathe First
2. Be Open to Change
3. Keep Your Sense of Humor
4. Stay Social…Somewhat
5. Create Boundaries with Your Time
6. Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
7. Celebrate Every Little Thing
Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Well, it takes some regular practice to actually get the benefits of these tools. And, hopefully, you may not need to use all seven for every situation.
Let’s break them down.
In terms of a physiological reaction, excitement and fear are almost identical. Either way, our bodies kick in for action: adrenaline & cortisol in the bloodstream, butterflies & knots in the stomach, elevated heart rate & blood pressure, and don’t forget about the sweats-chills-shakes. The difference is that when we expect something good to happen from a change in our lives, we get excited. Cue the whooping, hugging, and celebrating! They keep us breathing - and we don’t even have to think about it. However, when we’re stressed out by a change we fear, we tend to hold our breaths or go into very shallow breathing. Guess that’s why Robert Heller said, “Fear is Excitement Without the Breath.”
When a pivot pops up, taking a deep breath is rarely the first thing you’d think of doing. But it’s exactly what we should do! Full breaths keep the brain supplied with fresh oxygen so you can think more clearly. The heart rate will slow down, tensed muscles will relax, and blood pressure will decrease so you can be in a less stressful place physically. Adjusting to life changes doesn’t happen overnight, either, so try taking a few deep breaths every time you start thinking about or working on your new path.
Be Open to Change
I’ve found that there are two approaches to dealing with changes in life. One is to deny, deny, deny until the pivot is unavoidable. This approach usually ends with some unsatisfying decision being foisted upon you because all that denying ate up your thinking time. I don’t know about you, but I really hate not having choices.
The other is to allow yourself to pivot. What if you gave yourself permission to just think about doing something different? Not doing, just thinking. Somewhere along the line, society decided that changing your mind, your tactics, or your path are signs of a weak character. What?!? Change requires a very strong sense of self, and the occasional flipping of the bird to those without vision. Iyanla Vanzant has a great philosophy, “When you know better, do better!” When you allow thoughts of change, then you can be open to all of the new possibilities that await you on the other side. Now you can take action on those changes.
Keep Your Sense of Humor
Laughter is a wonderful way to lighten the mood, and there’s not a more endearing trait than being able to laugh at yourself. Most importantly, once you’ve a had a good chuckle it relaxes you just enough to take a truthful look at what’s going on! For example, years ago I realized I’d need to transition out of a 25 year acting career. I’d worked pretty consistently in the industry, and was getting my health insurance and retirement plan through the Screen Actors Guild. But it was way too much travel, the auditioning process was a total time-suck, I had a young child at home, and my husband’s health was in decline. The truth of the situation was that acting was rarely that glamorous. Sure, I usually looked good, but I always seemed to be dressed for the purpose of freezing to death. The shoes almost always hurt my feet. I couldn’t eat most of the junk food that was on full-temptation access. And back then, unless I was working on a Black production or with experienced pros, many sets didn’t have Makeup & Hair teams that knew what to do with brown skin…I would sneak off to my trailer and completely redo their work!!! The Lights-Camera-Action part came with a ton of waiting around, it’s just the nature of filming. I had a great time connecting with my castmates and the crew (crew always has the BEST stories!), but I would feel a bit hollow when production was over. Then it was back to the joy of auditioning. Talk about needing to keep a sense of humor!! Then I decided to make my Pilates, Rehab, and Nutrition Coaching side-hustle my main focus. I’d also been doing that for about 25 years at the time. It was hella’ scary to pivot toward an industry with even less security than being an actor. Ha! Besides, who needs Glamour-Lights-Camera-Action when it’s so much more fun & satisfying to tell people to squeeze their butts?!?
Well, I’m now in my 31st year in the fitness world and I love it. Everyday I get to meet, help, challenge, learn from and laugh with the some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. Turns out all that laughing is helping us all breathe more…See #1
Social media is a great way to stay connected to friends and family, especially when you're going through a big change. It's also a good way to keep your sense of humor!
Even if your thoughts are dark, it's important to maintain a sense of positivity on social media. When you feel down or upset, go find those videos of singing Huskies and cute kittens, and share something that makes you laugh. (Do try to skip the "epic fail" videos! Nothing's good about laughing at someone else's pain.) Rather than just hitting "Like", try leaving a positive comment on a post or reel you've enjoyed. Not only will the recipient feel great and appreciated, you'll also feel more uplifted and connected to the world because of your kindness.
When things aren't going well, it's easy for people to think they have no one to turn to. But being on social media can help with that. You'll be able to connect with people who are going through the same things as you. You may find ideas and tips you hadn’t thought of that may be helpful to your challenge. I’m not tech-savvy by any means, but I’ve used tips from people I’ve found on Instagram, YouTube, you name it, to show me what to do. In fact, I love when they show all the things they did wrong first…a little fumbling toward greatness is awesome and it gives me the courage to fumble, too! You might even be surprised to find that there are people out there with whom you have a strong, motivating bond- just not in the traditional sense.
Create boundaries with your time
Worrying every minute about what you're gonna do next will only exhaust you. You need energy for your new endeavors! Of course, make time for family and friends, but also make time for just YOU! Maybe that's hobbies, crafting, sports, doodling, playing with your pets? Try something new or revisit an old interest that you haven't been able to explore. Try exercises like mindfulness, deep breathing, or relaxation techniques to relieve stress throughout the day.
Take a step back from the hustle and enjoy your life. Yes, you have the time! Schedule it! It doesn't have to be hours, 20 minutes of something that's just for you is the gift you deserve to give yourself. It's absolutely OK to say no to an invitation for lunch or to a party. Or maybe just shorten the time of that event. Who are you hanging out with? Do they energize you to be creative and take action, or are they misery-lovers who feed your anxiety? Creating a boundary around your time can help give you a sense of fulfillment and power outside of whatever changes you're dealing with.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself
Pivoting can be a big change or a bunch of little changes, and it’s important to take care of yourself during this time in order to make the most of these opportunities.
Sleep is Everything! All that stuff about what happens when you don't breathe properly also applies to when you don't get enough rest. It all goes back to the breath, and you do your best breathing when your deep under. (Sleep apnea and snoring not withstanding!) And who's the jerk that starting us bragging about how little sleep we can get and still function? That's nothing to brag about.
That person may be related to the other jerk that got us eating tons of junk food and drinking ourselves into oblivion every time a pivot in our lives comes along. I'm pretty sure a sugar-coma and a hangover are exactly the opposite feelings we need when we're trying to figure out what to do with our lives! Eat some real food...something actually recognizable from where it started in nature. Keep the alcohol to a minimum. You need all the positive energy you can get!
And don't skip your workouts, whatever they may be! Nothing beats those feel-good, natural chemicals that wash our brains when we exercise. Endorphins and endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters that can have several positive effects on the brain & body both during and after working out. Add some dopamine and increased oxygen to that good stew and now you're decreasing painful sensations, increasing euphoria, relieving stress, improving motivation, regulating blood pressure, improving memory power. Not to mention, increasing something called neuroplasticity...literally, our ability to think about and adapt to new things in our lives.
Every single thing you do that helps you deal with life's changes deserves to be celebrated.
Every. Single. Thing.
You don't have to bust out the Margaritas every time you knock something off of your endless To-Do List, or when something good just comes your way! That might set you back a few days and quite a few dollars. But it's important to acknowledge all those baby steps that are either helping you move forward, or at least giving you some options to think about. I usually try not to make junk food my reward...talk about a can of worms. Maybe your celebration is just a quick Happy Dance at your desk, or a high-five with someone who gets what you're going through. Maybe it's extra cuddles & play with your pet, some time to read a chapter of a book or an article you've been meaning to get to, or maybe it's a little binge time on one of the streams. Got more time? Celebrate with a walk or a time with a friend. Alone or with those who support you, take a moment to say "Yeah! Good thing are happening here!"
Pivots come in many different shapes and sizes
It’s just change and everything changes… in nature, in technology, in business, in our lives. You might think it's stressful to change, but sometimes change can benefit you. To not change is to stand still. Even trees don’t stand still! Under the ground, those tree roots are running and reaching far and wide. Yet, we fear change so much because we fear being uncomfortable. We fear having to admit we might’ve made a mistake. We fear that the pivots may cost us money or time or status. Well, what if we thought of every pivot as chance for a start fresh or to get a fresh perspective?
What if the STEP is our chance to be bold?
What if the PIVOT is our chance to try something new?
What if the PAUSE is our chance to celebrate that bravery?
We’re all just trying to figure out what’s going to make us happy. Hopefully, we’ve all learned by now that you don’t wait until the end of your life to be happy. The end of your life is a long ‘ol time to wait for happiness. Finding your joy and feeling fulfilled in the now is the only real goal and loving that twisty path is how we enjoy the journey.
Thanks for reading!