Safety Dance: How Preparing Yourself For What's Next Will Ensure a Smooth Transition

Recently I was driving along a dark, winding, country road (cue spooky music).   Suddenly my thoughts turned to a friend's post on Facebook:  she had hit a deer, something that is not too uncommon this time of year. I told myself, "I am going to hit a deer." in a very calm inner-voice. i looked and there at the side of the road was a deer frolicking right in front on my car (no Bambi, no!). 

I pulled off to the side of the road, took a deep breath and wanted to call...my ex-boyfriend. Too scared to get out of my vehicle and not wanting to be swallowed up by the night I stayed put and called 9-1-1.  Eventually an empathetic sheriff arrived, looked my car over and sent me on my way with a smile and a wink. I was ok but gone was my feeling of safety.

It really surprised me that my first thought was to call the ex (let's call him Irish Eyes). We broke up in August after dating for a year and a half. I've been proud of how I handled myself; breakups are always emotional and well, this was not how I saw things playing out. We were taking trips with our families, talking about his grandma's engagement ring and the end of the long distance lifestyle (halleluiah!), until things took an abrupt 180. I learned a lot about relationships- and myself. The first time you tell someone you love them should not be the last.

But, I have moved on, excited to focus on what is next! Coaching has helped me to shift perspectives over the years.  I am no longer one to dwell on things I don't have control over.  I have moved past this relationship and chose not to get negative about him, us and the way things ended. I prefer to think he just got scared, which is ok because I was scared too.  The one thing about relationships someone has to provide comfort and security no matter what life has in store-  because that is what we crave, to feel safe.

I don't think about Irish Eyes much.  Well, except for immediately after I met a deer on a dark road....and last month when I was stranded in the Dallas airport late at night and was hungry, tired and a little scared.  I just wanted to be home.  I wished he was with me; I got a little teary eyed when I came to that realization. I let myself have a brief moment.  Then I reminded myself that I was just on another one of my adventures and the sooner I figured out this big bad Texas city and found a safe place to lie my head the sooner I could call it a day. See how I re-framed that? You can either be apprehensive about an uncomfortable situation or channel the excitement of the unknown.  Sometimes you can make yourself feel safer by looking at the situation in another way. That is my safety dance. (We interrupt this blog post for an 80s dance party).

After my car accident I reflected on why- when I don't feel safe -  I would want to reach out to Irish Eyes. I realized I had found a deep comfort in that relationship and that during stressful situations, when I am at my most vulnerable, I want that comfort more than anything. I wanted him to give me a big hug, so I would feel safe wrapped in his arms, and the feeling that shields me from  all the things that go bump- or crash- in the night. Because, in his arms it felt like home.

Everyone needs to feel safe. As humans, fight or flight enables us to move past danger and return to safety. We are wired to overcome fear by fighting back to conquer the threat or pulling a road runner and fleeing as fast as our legs can take us.

Employee engagement is at an all time low.  One reason often cited is that employees do not feel safe.  They constantly worry that their jobs are in jeopardy.  If we are in a constant state of fear- which induces stress- productivity suffers, not to mention our emotional and physical well-being is compromised.  Many companies are not able to provide people with the feeling of safety they need to thrive.

Our global economy has eroded any job security (and that feeling of safety) that we once had.  By 2020 almost 40% of the workforce will be comprised of contract workers. 

What does that mean for your career?

There are going to be fewer traditional full time jobs and more of us will work several projects for a variety of companies to make ends meet.

How to prepare yourself for this workplace of the (near) future

1. Figure Out Your Passion And Take It To The Next Level.

It's always important to do your life's best work- what you enjoy and what you are good at - but it will be more so in the future because it is your competitive advantage. 

Do what you love.  Hopefully you are rocking your dream job. If not, start accessing your strengths and weaknesses. What do you like to do? What would you love to delegate? The better you know yourself the easier it is to find and excel at the job that is perfect for your unique talents.

Your best investment is you. Keep your skill set fresh by taking classes and staying on top of technology enhancements. Become an expert in something; fine-tune what sets you apart from those in your industry and profession.

2. Consider Starting Your Own Business.

Traditional employment based jobs are slowly disappearing and you need to keep your options open.  Consider starting a side business to test the waters.  I coached for more than three years before harnessing the courage to venture out on my own. Starting a side gig allows you to build your business focusing on client testimonials, referrals and everything else you need to excel in a competitive marketplace. If your long-term best option is to go out on your own, you won't be starting from scratch.

3. Craft Your Career: Choose Your Own Adventure.

Most jobs have a core set of responsibilities that need to get done, but if you are looking to learn new skills or take on a different project, everyone can use a little help. 

For example, I worked with a savvy manager who had this skill down to an art. She was known for landing challenging assignments significantly outside of the scope of her job duties based on her initiative and people prowess. The company was in the process of building a new headquarters and while she knew little about commercial construction, she had the trust of the executive team. She quickly forged relationships with the builder and subcontractors to the point that she was their onsite liaison; no decision was made without her blessing.

How?  She identified a gap and filled it.  The company didn't have a facilities person to manage the project and advocate for their best interests. She took on the challenge and excelled in this role so much so that when she left the company shortly after the project was complete she was hired on by one of the contractors. Talk about building your future one interaction at a time. She had already demonstrated her value- and versatility- to her future employer.

At the end of the day, we all just want to feel safe in life- and at work.  And the best way to feel safe is to anticipate- and prepare for- what's to come.  Between the end of my relationship and saying goodbye to my awesome work family I've had a lot of change in my life in a short period of time.  Change can be scarey and stressful but by focusing on what's exciting you look forward to what's next instead of focusing on what could have been. That excitement is how I ensured my own smooth transition.

What make you feel safe?

How are you preparing for what's next?

Please leave a comment or ask a question below. I'd love to hear from you!

Posted on November 17, 2014 and filed under Relationships, Career change, Engagement, Stress, Fear.