Beginnings are scary.
I am writing this blog on the first day of the summer solstice, here in the Northern hemisphere. It seems fitting, as today I am writing about change.
Steven Rogers said, ‘Beginnings are usually scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s what’s in the middle that counts.’ I am embarking on a change in my career and it is scary. I have been here before, when I moved from the clear career path as an executive manager in the NHS to a very different role working for the Audit Commission, a national regulator of local authority and health care services. Then, as now, I moved from the safety of a role where I was respected and knew what I was doing, to one where I felt like the new girl – clueless and deskilled.
In recent years, I have been letting my profile as a consultant in health and social care decline, so that I can commit more time to writing. Just thinking about this change gives me palpitations. It’s a mixture of fear and excitement. I worked hard to establish my management consultancy and it has been successful, but since my mother died a few years ago, I have been pursuing my passion for writing. Maybe her passing made me realise that I had to make the most of every day.
Finding the courage to take a new direction
It is easy to stay in a place where we feel comfortable, instead of taking a risk to follow our dreams. I am not suggesting writers should give up paid work to write full-time when they have no guaranteed income. I am in a fortunate position of being semi-retired and so I can afford to bring in less money and focus more on writing. But, when I was a hospital manager and stepped off the career ladder to take a route that was unfamiliar I had to be brave. It was the right decision for me and led to greater things than I could ever have imagined, but it took a leap of faith.
Your heart tells you when it is time to make changes in your life, although it may take some time before you get the courage to listen to that inner voice and act. Letting go is the hardest part of that journey. If you are at the top of a mountain, feeling successful and valued, albeit unchallenged, stepping into the unknown is scary. If you have established a home routine that works and is comfortable, but no longer meets your needs, then disruption is scary.
The space between ending and beginning
Then, as now, emails relating to my day job went from a torrent of daily communications to a trickle and then nothing. Did that mean I was no longer important? I wasn’t needed? In the NHS Trust, there had been a reorganisation, and I had talked myself out of a job as I searched for a role that would enable me to improve services. All was quiet and I was afraid that I had wrecked my career.
In that quiet time, I meditated and reflected. A mentor suggested the role I was in no longer fitted me. She suggested I spend time working out ‘my shape’ and then find a job to fit – keeping an open mind. If it hadn’t been for that space between the ending and beginning I would never have found my path.
I am back in that place again today. I have intentionally let my consultancy business decline, turning down work, and moving my focus from networking with health and social care colleagues to networking with the writing community. I am in the space between, feeling my way, uncertain what the future may hold. Everything is unfamiliar and I am pushing myself every day to learn new skills: setting up this blog, using social media to network, publishing my debut. I am no longer the expert, the person to go to, a person well connected within a community. Maybe one day I will be, but now I am at the bottom of a mountain, with a steep climb ahead.
Fulfilling our potential
Everything has a season. A beginning, a middle and an end. Like our breath. It is the pause between breaths, the space between thoughts where the divine happens. We have to be still, to hear what is in our heart, and be open to new possibilities. We don’t know what the future will look like, we just have to have enough faith to let go of the old. Then wait. Beneath the ground nature takes its course and seeds germinate. Looking at bare soil is very, very scary.
If we cling to what we know and never have the courage to learn something new, then we fail to fulfil our potential. Isn’t that what we are all here to do? To be the best version of ourselves that we can? This weekend it is International yoga day and the summer solstice here in the UK. As we go into the first day of summer, I hope that your harvest is plentiful and your dreams fulfilled. Namaste.