A couple of weekends ago, I helped my son move into his dorm, enjoyed parents orientation and participated in a commissioning prayer service with the college community. I am now learning what empty nesting is all about! I’m so excited about my son’s opportunities, and yet letting go is painful. It is the most awkward feeling of pride and pain that I’ve ever experienced. Of course, my son’s new opportunities create the same for me. But bottom line, this coach is experiencing transition and it’s not all easy!
Through this, I’ve been repeatedly reminded of something I learned my freshman year of college. As part of college orientation we were assigned Lloyd Ahlem’s book, Living with Stress. There, I was first introduced to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory and learned that all change – even positive, wanted change – can produce stress. This was a significant lesson for me, so much so that I have kept the book on my shelf ever since.
Now, after years of coaching people through positive change in their lives, I see clients pursuing and achieving their coaching goals and notice the stress that can appear. Even positive change – marriage, retirement or a new job – can contribute to stress. Recently, this was true of a client of mine who was thrilled to be moving with her family into a lovely new home and yet couldn’t identify why she found it difficult to make progress with other coaching goals.
Sometimes clients will say “I’m stuck, I’m in a funk, I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know what to do next. I’m lacking, I’m deficient. I feel guilty.” And sometimes it is just because of all the change they are experiencing. Helping clients see when there is a lot of change going on gives them the opportunity to respond intentionally, accordingly.
Be mindful of the changes – both positive and negative – that your clients are experiencing. Share your observations when you sense it may be helpful. Ask questions such as:
How have these changes impacted you?
What are the implications of these changes on your feelings right now?
If you managed the impact of these changes as you would like, what would that look like for you?
These days, I’m asking myself these questions and finding them helpful!