My father always reminds me that the only constant in life is change. Sometimes, I rely on this knowing with excited anticipation, and other times, I’ve wished for everything to remain steadfast. But, as the waves of life continue to fold into one another and evolve, change remains central to the fabric of existence.
Some crave change and are constantly yearning for its newness – from a new color splash on the walls of their kitchen to a new haircut. Others avoid change and crave stability – from eating the same thing for lunch each week to buying several pairs of the same comfortable shoes.
But what if the call for change is coming from deep within your gut?
For those of us who have felt the internal longing for change, we know that it can be both persistent and terrifying. Sometimes the change we desire may ultimately result in a move, a divorce or breakup, a career change, or may impact those we care about. These types of transitions induce fear, anxiety, and general feelings of instability.
Jacqueline Misla is no stranger to times of transition, and with the launch of her new company, blog, and resource hub Crafting Your Path, she’s on a mission to help women who are ready for change achieve the life that they are longing for.
As a change strategist, coach, and writer, she believes that within change comes opportunity – even amidst the fear – and with the right resources, coaching, and perspective, every major transition can be positive. In fact, it’s likely an unprecedented opportunity to reframe your goals, values, and desires to craft a path more authentically yours than the one you were on before.
Jacqueline and I sat down to talk change, expectations and fear, Crafting Your Path, and the community she’s seeking to build.
Haley Hoffman Smith: If I had to categorize it, I’d say there are two types of transition. The first is a transition that’s thrust upon you. Perhaps something happens that’s out of your control – you’re laid off from your job, or you’re experiencing the loss of a loved one. The second type of transition is more self-guided, such as consciously choosing to leave a relationship or a job. Many feel a calling on their hearts to make a change, but how does one know if they’re ready?
Jacqueline Misla: If you feel like the person who you are portraying on the outside does not reflect how you feel on the inside. If you have a feeling, deep in your gut, telling you that you want something more or different from your life. If things are changing around you or if you are evolving but the things around you are not – then you are probably ready for a change.
HHS: What is your best advice for someone who is the depths of a really hard transition?
JM: When someone is in the midst of transition, they usually don’t think of themselves as transitioning from one thing to another – from one job, school, relationship, city, or way of living to something better. They usually are just mourning the loss of what they had and fearing what is to come. Change can be painful, messy, exhausting, and humbling.
My advice for someone who is in the depths of a really hard transition: have self-empathy and curiosity.
First, have empathy with yourself and allow yourself to mourn what you had (even if what you had didn’t make you that happy). Cry in your pajamas. Order takeout “too many” times. Binge watch your favorite shows. Vent to trusted friends. And know that you will show up in ways that do not reflect your best self. Sometimes the goal is just to survive with minimal damage to yourself or anyone else. In order to learn and grow from this experience, you have to think about it and really feel it – and really feeling it is hard. So be easy with yourself and don’t rush or over sanitize your healing.
HHS: I love that – recognizing change for what it is and FEELING all of it. I think too much of the time, we try to numb any type of pain and discomfort and simply “move on.” But the pain and discomfort doesn’t go away – it’s just pushed down, and comes out in other ways.
JM: Exactly! The second thing that I suggest is to tap into your curiosity. Be curious about what you are feeling and why. Be curious about what fed you about your former life and what depleted you. Ask yourself big questions: What do you need? What is your vision for your best life? When do you feel most joyful and alive? What parts of yourself have you been hiding? What parts of yourself did you give away in order to have what you are now mourning? We often avoid these questions for fear of what it will stir up; well, if you are in the midst of the tornado anyway, might as well stir some things up. Each time you begin to feel the pangs of distress, meet that distress with curiosity. Instead of pushing away the pain, fear, and discomfort, begin to explore it and listen to what it has to teach you.
“Instead of pushing away the pain, fear, and discomfort, begin to explore it and listen to what it has to teach you.”JACQUELINE MISLA
HHS: I love the stories of your own transitions because they show the breadth of what can change on a given Tuesday – from relationships, to jobs, to even how we classify how ‘happy’ we are. You’ve gone through such dramatic transitions, and I truly believe that they served you in your ultimate purpose to help others through their own. What perspective is necessary for one to see change as an opportunity?
JM: Change is often seen as an ending, when really it is an extraordinary opportunity to have a new beginning.
While it is hard to see change as an opportunity when you are in the middle of it, there are two things that can help you change your perspective:
First, in order to see change as an opportunity we need to stop romanticizing what we had before. Often when we feel a longing for a change or when change is forced upon us, we can get stuck in thinking about what we could or have lost. Fear and/or a distortion of history may trick us into only remembering what we have lost (e.g., the good times with the ex or the friendships at the old job). The truth is that there were likely a lot of things that did not meet our needs or bring us joy. Having a balanced memory of what was lost in the change will help make the idea of change less painful.
Second, approaching the situation like a curious adventurer can transform the way we think about change. As opposed to fixating on fear or a specific outcome, approaching times of change with a willingness to explore opens up the opportunity for anything to be possible. Creating space to ask introspective questions, trying different scenarios (e.g., different types of relationships or different jobs), and focusing on staying in tune with one’s inner desires as opposed to a specific outcome can help make the exploration through change less painful and more interesting.
HHS: I am a big fan of the term, “curious adventurer.” I think that’s an attitude that one should have throughout their lives, regardless whether circumstances feel stagnant or are changing quicker than ever. I have heard you say that part of your work is helping others feel comfortable with “living outside the box,” especially as they craft an authentic path for themselves. What does living “outside of the box” mean to you?
JM: In my work, I support people – particularly women – with exploring “out of the box” lives.
I often work with people who have played by the rules most of their lives, but feel like they have not reaped the reward. They kept their head down at work, they got involved with the “right” type of person in the “right” type of relationship, and they worked really hard to fit into external expectations and craft the lives that were expected of them. And yet they are not happy.
Those who dared to dream of a life outside of those external expectations were often met with internal criticism, which proclaimed that “they were not enough” and could not have more, better, or different.
Through my work as a coach and through Crafting Your Path, the goal is to push past external expectations and internal criticism to embrace and act on the fullness of who we are. That usually means, in some way or another, that people have to break out of the box that was assigned to them by their parents, their community, or even their internalized fear. It means recognizing that the box they were in – even if the box was meant to keep them safe or help them be successful – no longer fits them, and choosing to craft a path for themselves outside of the box.
That is not easy. It makes me think of the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
And with some inspiration, tools, and support, I have seen hundreds people create incredible, thriving, joyful “out of the box” lives.
“Those who dared to dream of a life outside of those external expectations were often met with internal criticism, which proclaimed that “they were not enough” and could not have more, better, or different.”JACQUELINE MISLA
HHS: And you’re a true testament to the power of an “out of the box” life! How did your journey to authentic living lead you to Crafting Your Path?
JM: CYP was born from real and raw conversations with women about what they wanted from their lives, and what was getting in the way. The work was formed through tears and laughter, pain and joy, individual reflection and collaborative community.
The content, resources, and community provided through CYP centers around pushing past what others – family, partners, friends, society – expect of you, working through internal fear and doubt, and moving towards the direction of your soul (your passion, your desires, your truth).
HHS: So, how can readers get involved with/ follow Crafting Your Path?
JM: CYP is built for community. Themes are crowd-sourced, content is created by a diverse group of contributors, and resources are shared in collaboration with other amazing female experts. There are so many ways to benefit from and get involved with CYP!