My last week in Italy has been a little manic, I wanted to make sure I had bought gifts for my family, see some final sights and get into gear for life and work back in the UK.
Thankfully friends and family seem to be excited about me coming home and they have all asked me ‘ are you excited to be coming home?’ My automatic response is ‘Yes, of course’ and they all know I can’t wait to get home and sleep in my wonderful double bed and reclaim the freedom of having a car (as well as see them naturally!). But as I am saying ‘Yes’ a little coolness descends upon my heart, I recognize the feeling – apprehension!
Once I had identified the emotion my initial response was to berate myself for feeling that way. Two months ago I was feeling the fear about a new country and a new language and doing it anyway, this time I am going back to my life and what I know, how could I possibly be worried about that?
My 5 star thought and ideas usually appear when I have switched off from the world so it is no surprise that whilst sat with a glass of wine, watching TV it clicked ‘I am facing change!’.
Yes I am going back to what I know but I have changed, things at home will have changed, and I will miss out on travel to places I have only heard people talk about or seen on the internet – no wonder I am concerned about leaving.
Now I have realized I am facing change I can see where I am on the change curve. The change curve has been adapted from a model by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross M.D (1969) looking at the 5 stages of grief when facing or having faced death which is used extensively in grief counselling. Research has shown that change depending on the size, complexity, time in life and control can have a huge emotional toll on individuals and when facing change they follow a similar journey.
Looking at diagram above you can see the journey of emotions people experience when facing change, and depending on circumstances and personality traits journey times and extremes of emotion will differ.
I was somewhere on the left of the curve when the apprehension set in. I know from working with teams facing change that I need to come up with strategies that get me to the right handside as quickly as possible.
- I understand and support the rationale for the change, so that is a quick tick in the box
- I know the benefits of heading home instead of staying here
- I acknowledge I have concerns about the impact of change within me and back in the UK
- I will miss some of the opportunities I have maximized on whilst being here including travel
So my focus is to tackle the last 2 bullet points and reduce the apprehension and move more freely through acceptance to commitment not only in my head but also in my heart
- I am getting in touch with key people in the first week I get back, so any changes I am unaware of can be picked up quickly
- I have shared as much of what I have learned and my intensions moving forward with those it impacts so they understand and if possible can be part of it
- I have booked in a few trips around the UK… we sometimes forget the amazing landscapes we have in our own back yard. I have also got plans to come back to Italy with family later in 2014, and I am continuing Italian lessons, so that link won’t be lost.
The apprehension is diminishing, and I am confident by midweek I will be back in to the swing of things (removing unnecessary time for stress and worry) and feeling very positive about plans ahead.
So going back is still change, you may be heading back to work after a sabbatical or maternity leave, leaving a secondment to return to a substantive role, moving back in with the parents after a life of independence or something similar. Remember it is change, things will be different and you will be sacrificing things that you value and stepping in to unfamiliar territory. But it doesn’t have to be all pain – think about the rationale, benefits, concerns and lost opportunities; then make a plan and take action to balance it out, and give yourself a break, change is change and always takes some level of adjustment.