In April 2019, I became a mom to the most wonderful baby boy, Ari. I usually don’t admit it, but he is indeed the center of my universe. No matter how hard parenting can be, nothing beats watching him sleep peacefully at night and feeling incredibly grateful for the privilege to raise a child.
For a good year since his birth, I managed to continue pursuing my professional career. I went back to work full time after my parental leave to a significant global role. The commute and the child care that was available at that time helped make this duality of mom and career professional manageable. We had a routine, I felt like I was back to my “old self” when I was at work. It all seemed under control.
Until COVID-19 hit. And we all know how that story goes. Cut to the chase, I burned out and not only did I need to stop working for 6 months (the first extended break in 18 years), I also was unhappy, lonely, isolated, and defeated. I could not be a great mom, wife, sister, daughter and friend. I was lost in my own world, and I didn’t even recognise myself anymore.
What I didn’t realise then, which I know now is that I had not fully processed what it meant for me to become a mom, more so a full time working mom. Externally, yes, there was a lot of change with ways of working and ways of parenting, and organising our days, etc. Internally, though, I had not paused to reflect how I, Karina, the human being, needed to transform too. I didn’t pause to check how my values system had changed. I didn’t ask myself what I would use as a compass to make trade-off decisions. I didn’t reset my self-care routine. I just went back to my good old days (pre-mom) even if that chapter was over.
I’ve been through many other significant transitions in my life, but this one in particular stands out because of the far-reaching consequences of a life transition that was not internally prepared and processed well.
I came across an excerpt from the book "Transitions" by William Bridges, PhD that nicely articulates what I had missed in my experience:
“I don’t think I made the distinction between change and transition clear enough…. Our society confuses them constantly, leading us to imagine that transition is just another word for change. But it isn’t. Change is your move to a new city, or your shift to a new job. It is the birth of your new baby or the death of your father. It is the switch from the old health plan at work to the new one, or the replacement of your manager by a new one, or it is the acquisition that your company just made.
In other words, change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It is not those events but rather the inner reorientation and self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life. Without a transition, a change is just a rearrangement of the furniture….Unfortunately for us, it is the transition that blindsides us and is often the source of our troubles.”
This excerpt was so eye-opening for me that I don't look at life changes the same way again, and has in fact inspired a lot of the work that I do with my coaching clients.
To help us zoom out from the details of the change and spend a little bit of time focusing on ourselves and our personal transition, I have put together a reflection guide with 10 thought starters that I hope can help anyone facing an important life change to feel better prepared, more confident and more in touch with their values and priorities. Access your free copy by clicking on the button below - and let me know what you think.