What Do You Do When You Are Standing in the Gap?

The choices you make from this day forward will lead you, step by step, to the future you deserve.      ~ Chris Murray

You face many transitions during your lifetime. You transition from childhood to adulthood. From school to work. From single to married. From parenthood to empty nester. From work life to retirement. From young to old.

Those are planned transitions. You know they are coming. You have a picture of the future. You know there is going to be a period of adjustment and you prepare for it.

But what do you do when something unexpected happens? What do you do when you suddenly find yourself standing in the gap between what you lost and a future you can’t envision? What do you do when you are in the middle of a life or career transition and you have no clue about what to do next?

Years ago, when I was “downsized” from my job, I found myself standing in the gap between a job I’d worked at my entire life and a future I couldn’t imagine. I couldn’t get a grip on the notion that that after a lifetime of showing up every day, I now had nowhere to go when I woke up in the morning.

In the beginning, it felt a little bit like I was on vacation. It felt like one morning, I would simply wake up and go back to my job.

When I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I got scared and started running. I scurried around doing everything one is supposed to do during a career transition. I updated my resume, networked, and frantically job-hunted.

Deep inside, I knew my heart wasn’t in it. I felt like I was running on automatic pilot. I was doing what people in career transition are expected to do. The problem was that I wasn’t doing what I needed to do for me.

Eventually, with support and assistance, I found the courage to slow down. I started walking to ease my anxiety. Walking became a form of meditation.

I began to see standing in the gap as a gift. Allowing myself to stand there without forcing myself to immediately climb out gave me the gift of space.

I needed space to come to grips with what I had lost until I could let it go. I needed space to explore who I was and who I wanted to become.  I needed space to invent a future that excited and inspired me.

So if you find yourself standing in the gap of a life or career transition, don’t panic. Do your best to embrace it.

Don’t rush headlong into robotic and frantic action. Give yourself space to feel all your feelings and get complete with what has been lost. Give yourself the space to look around and explore.

You are in new territory. Enter it with anticipation. Look around with new eyes. You might just be over-the-top delighted with the gifts waiting there for you to discover.

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