Take a moment and think about the seasons. Fall, winter, spring, summer. If you're in the Midwest like me, you're probably experiencing this shift from one to the next right now.
Many of us have a preference for one season over another. Perhaps you like the summer because you get to go out on your family's boat. Or maybe you like winter because that means it's time to get the snowmobile out. Regardless, just like you have your favorite, there's a pretty good chance that there's some seasons you wish you could avoid altogether. Unfortunately, most of us still have to participate in all four.
Much like the weather, our journey through life is filled with different seasons. Each season is a unique combination of experiences, reactions and choices and will look different for every person who experiences it. If there's one thing we can be sure of, though, it's that – just like the transition from autumn to fall – the seasons of your life will at some point involve dealing with unwanted change.
Change – the only thing in life that's for certain. While there are times we cannot control the change coming at us, we can control its power over us and use that power to find an opportunity, a gift or a blessing – even when it shows up in a bad, painful and undesirable disguise.
The Old Meets the New
"Poorly" is probably a severe understatement to describe how I've historically reacted to change in my life.
Every time I would be forced to switch gears unexpectedly or when an opportunity would knock on my door, I'd find myself crippled by one overwhelming feeling:
I invited the fear of failure to make a nice home in my heart and it began to take hold of every goal, dream and ambition I ever had. Fear of failure is something I've struggled with since I was little. No external pressure was needed (I'm actually pretty convinced my parents are saints) – I literally put that fear on myself.
Before attending the Millennial Mastermind conference this past June, I never would have taken a moment to reflect on my past life experiences and pinpoint the themes that made them up. Sure, overall optimism, joy, and love reigned supreme in my life. However, across many experiences, it seems there was that one little survival-driven concept in the darkest of corners that kept me from thriving – the fear of failing.
So then the question becomes:
How do I break this habit from the old seasons of life in order to enjoy my current season and get ready for what's still yet to come?
Step 1: Recognize the problem.
Whoo- hoo! Done! Now what?
Step 2: Prepare.
Preparation is Key
In the context of weather, you probably set time aside during the current season to prepare for the one coming up. This could include:
- dragging out the winter jackets, gloves and boots.
- checking the furnace.
- changing your tires.
If you don't take this time to prepare, there's a good chance you could suffer the consequences (like being stuck outside with cold fingers and toes unexpectedly!).
Just like I pull out my winter clothing during the fall, I'm beginning to make preparations for the next chapter of life in the present moment.
A problem like fear has to be taken out by the root. In my "mind's eye," I imagine that it's grown into a fairly large vine – so I'm taking a brush axe to it. It won't be easy and it's going to take some work before I can fully demolish it. That means:
- I read encouraging blog posts and books.
- I spend time in God’s word and study what he has to say about fear (spoiler alert: He says do not, He’s got this).
- I start declaring God’s truth in my life vs. the enemy’s lies and write out affirmations to help instill these new truths in me.
And finally, I take action. I begin actively working toward the goals, dreams and ambitions I have held on to for so long. Yes, I've hit speed bumps. And I will again. But that's okay, because each one delivers with it a lesson.
Being afraid of failure does nothing to serve me because, in reality, I get a little better every time life gets a little harder. The act of working toward my passions releases a feeling so fulfilling that it is worth every hit I take. And ratio wise, I have been hit with more encouragement than I have discouragement.
Enjoying the Season
As I reflect on my life and the experiences that have shaped me, I see times where I reacted well to challenges and others where I reacted poorly. I see where I made good choices, where I could have made better ones and times when I refused to make a choice at all. At the end of everything, I can see these chosen courses reflected in the ideas, actions and thoughts I have today. This insight sets me up in a powerful way to put all those poor to mediocre choices to good use – I can use those lessons from pivotal moments to help prepare for my next season.
Fortunately change isn’t just a noun, and it is not just something that happens to us. It is something we can make happen. We can start the process of change whenever we want, in whatever direction we want.
Every season has something beautiful to experience. (Yes, even winter. Who can’t enjoy a good sledding trip or snowball war followed by a cup of hot chocolate?) The seasons in our life are no different. While some of them may not be our favorite, even a massive blizzard that snows you in for days and knocks out the power can have its good moments.
Do not discredit or discount your past seasons because they didn't go according to plan.
Do not resent your current season because you're impatient for the next one to blow in.
Doing one or both of these will leave you with regret and impatience. #1 – you don't have time for that. #2 – you don't want to miss the lessons you'll need to prepare for when the next season of life starts to change.
Brittany Shears is a millennial on a mission to find “the best version of me”. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a dual degree in Animal Science and Agribusiness. By trade, she is in training to manage a sow unit in rural Ohio. Outside of work, she is active in her church and plans to be a minister, owns two horses and is an avid reader. It is her combined passion for agriculture and her faith, coupled with her supportive family and friends, which have inspired her from a young age. Brittany’s primary goal is to find an occupation that will allow her to showcase these two passions and incorporate them in her professional life. On her journey from dream to reality, she continues to gain invaluable experience and learn life lessons that propel her forward.