How to overcome resistance and embrace change

Two years ago, I upended my entire life and career by selling my house and business, and moving from Houston to Los Angeles. I knew I was ready for a change, but I wasn’t prepared for the resistance I would face in committing to it.

Up until this point, I had always played a supporting role in just about everything I did, but now, I had to be the main character. To say that this has been paralyzing is an understatement. I’ve spent so much time resisting new opportunities and experiences because I’m searching for that grounding I had when I was simply following someone else’s vision.

Whether it’s starting a new job or business, moving across the country, or pursuing a new passion, resistance can hold us back from fully embracing and actualizing the changes we want to pursue. Here are four strategies I’ve used to overcome it and move to acceptance and action:

Embrace a beginner’s mindset

One of the biggest hurdles to starting something new is our personal expectations. If you’re a recovering overachiever like me, you likely have a tendency to set impossibly high standards and then beat yourself up when you don’t meet them. In my case, I often end up convincing myself not to take action at all if I can’t be 100% certain that I’ll achieve the results I want (ahem – analysis paralysis). This is where I had to shift my assessment of what it means to be a “beginner.”

Before, I held the belief that I had to master a new skill, task, or project as quickly as possible with zero to minimal mistakes. This worked well for me in school and in the early part of my career, but it has almost immobilized me as I start a new life and business in a new city. Now, I recognize that a willingness to make mistakes actually serves me because I get to explore and learn from opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise. The key here is accepting that my own personal and professional growth is the goal, not any specific results I’m trying to achieve.

Change the narrative in your mind about your identity

Another common barrier to starting something new is our own self-image. Prior to this transition, I had a fixed idea of who I was and what I was capable of, namely, only being able to serve as a supporting role to someone else’s vision. This made it difficult to step outside of my comfort zone because I’d never had to even think about creating a plan of my own. Initially, it felt like I was abandoning myself, but as I reflected, I realized that there were parts of me that I had never even discovered and embraced because I was so focused on being there for others.

Now, I’m in the process of shifting what I believe my identity can consist of. I’ve recognized that pursuing new experiences and passions does not mean that I have to give up my identity as a supporter, and in fact, it actually helps me to serve others better, as I have more to give when I feel fulfilled and energized. It comes down to understanding that you have permission to grow and evolve, as long as you do so with intention.

Moving from resistance to acceptance doesn’t happen overnight

The notion of “radical acceptance” implies that there is an exact moment where you’re able to completely let go of your previously held assessments and fully embrace the transition process. As ideal and efficient as this sounds, it’s not realistic for most people navigating change. Old habits die hard, as they say, so it’s important to remember that sometimes, you’ll have to take a few steps back in order to take a few forward in overcoming that resistance.

There will be weeks where you make a ton of progress and there will be weeks where you fall back into your old habits, thought patterns, and expectations. It may not seem like it, but each time you get through those difficult weeks, you still move the needle forward because you’re able to get out of those ruts faster and smarter each time. Understand that this is a life-long process and it will never be linear, so give yourself some grace – it’s perfectly normal to accept change one small piece at a time.

Anchor yourself internally while you build a new foundation externally

I followed the predictable, laid-out path for most of my life, so when I made my big move, it felt like the earth had been ripped out from under me. I knew that building a new personal and professional life would take time and a lot of trial and error, but I felt like I wasn’t equipped to even begin the process. This roadblock ended up being a major “a-ha” moment for me.

I realized that my lack of any kind of internal grounding was preventing me from building a foundation externally. I had to develop a routine that would anchor me and give me the support and confidence I needed to navigate the uncertainty of this new life and career. For me, this includes exercise, spending time outdoors, dance classes, cooking & exploring markets, and journaling. Figure out what nourishes you and commit to doing it consistently so that no matter what’s happening on the outside, you always have something to lean on.

Starting something new can be daunting, but with the right mindset and strategies, it is possible to overcome resistance and move forward, even if it isn’t what you envisioned change would look and feel like. The overarching theme here is managing expectations – of your goals, your progress, your needs, and yourself. The antidote to anxiety is curiosity – embrace it, and you’ll allow yourself to discover and realize opportunities you wouldn’t have even imagined before.

If you’re feeling resistant to change and want to see if coaching may help you on this journey, please email me at [email protected] or click the button below to schedule a complimentary discovery call.