08/23/2013 05:17 pm ET Updated Oct 23, 2013

What Year Is It?

When I look at my life thus far, I can see that, generally speaking, there are three types of years that I have experienced:

Years of mastery:
These are years when I am solidly in a role, whether that is a job or a relationship or my community. I know where I am, what my place is, and I master it. I have times of growth and learning how to do my role better, and then times of coasting and celebrating what I have built. It is fun, and stable, and prosperous.

Years of exploration: After a few years of mastery, I am looking for what is next. I know something new is out there but am not sure what and so I start to explore. I get to know myself better. I start to examine my mission, what makes me happy. I am curious.

Years of change: After a year or two of exploration, I have planted the seeds and set the intentions (whether concrete or abstract) and then, "bang!" I get the new job, or new relationship, or move to a new city. And then I experience rapid change. The days seem longer than normal, everything seems new and different. I grow into a new version of myself, one that fills a bigger set of shoes.

Of course, this is not an absolute categorization. Most years have a mixture of mastery, exploration, and change, especially if you consider all of the areas of your life: You are changing some while exploring others, etc. But still, when I look back at certain years, they have an unmistakable flavor to me.

What year is 2013 for you? For me, it is a year of change. I was recently promoted and fell madly in love with the man who could, quite possibly, be my one. Not a bad year, eh?

The thing about years of change is that they can be jarring. You had gotten used to a certain way of living and of being, and now you are called to step into a new dance that feels unfamiliar, maybe scary, maybe uncomfortable, maybe uncertain. What's neat about these jarring moments is that they are a rare and precious opportunity to see yourself in a new light. This opportunity doesn't come along every day.

In times of change and uncertainty, our strengths shine brightly. For example, my structured, analytical mindset is having a blast with figuring out how to reorganize Handel Group Life Coaching and bring it to new levels of smart business practices. I have never been so proud of this skill as I am now. On the other hand, our character traits that need evolving also make themselves abundantly known. This is a great opportunity to stare yourself in the face, and decide what you are going to do about it.

Here are a few common negative traits that I have seen come up in times of transition:

Impatient and annoyed:
This is mine. I am annoyed with how long things take, and how much I need to learn. Can't I know everything already? Why are my new coworkers so slow? As soon as I see something that needs fixing, I get antsy to fix it.

Overwhelmed pity party: This trait comes with the slogan "poor me, I have too much to handle." You feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, and you don't know what to focus on first, so maybe you just take a break to "take care" of yourself. You consider yourself lucky that you made it through the day.

Look-gooder: If you have this trait, you are likely working overtime to manage what the people in your new role think of you. "Did what I just say sound smart? She looked at me funny... does she not like me? What can I do to get on her good side?"

Avoider: This trait involves some degree of playing dumb and ignoring just how much has to change. "No problem, this will be just like the last job." You may take on much more than you can handle because you are avoiding dealing with the real decisions, the real designing that you now need to do.

Knowing my positive traits well allows me to use them for maximal benefit. Knowing my negative traits well helps me stop them from wreaking havoc. Can you see yours ? What are you going to do about them to create the year YOU want to be living?



P.S. If you want to learn how to step up and take the reins of your life, check out our Design Your Life Weekend.

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