I’ve been in Nepal now for two-and-a-half weeks and the time has really flown by. Considering I haven’t headed off on any treks, big expeditions, or had any firm plans, it’s staggering how fast time can go by when you’re reading, writing, thinking, relaxing, biking and taking the days as they unfold. In some respects this could be called ‘slow-travel’ which has become a travel concept to take popular root over the last couple years, but more about that in another blog. My original plan to blog daily fell off-the-rails, but I’ve written when something’s struck me, there was a lull in my day and/or between bike rides.
A prime reason for coming here and staying on a mountainside outside Kathmandu has been to have the time and place to reflect upon my past and begin the process of transitioning into the next phase of my life. In early March 2013 I sold my shares in travel company Smiling Albino, which I co-founded, to my business partner. It’s the only fulltime job I’ve had as an adult and while excited for the next chapter in my life, I have no idea what I’d like to do next. More importantly, what am I good at, what skills can I offer and how should I package them? This is one of the personal projects I’m working on here. It’s been a bit tough to get started at times (as most serious tasks are) but once I’ve gotten going, it’s been rewarding.
A starting point was reading Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, by William Bridges, which was recommended by one of my professors from the Asia Pacific Leadership Program, which I took part in from August-December, 2011, at the East-West Center in Hawaii. She said it serves as a good starting point for managing a big life change, especially in mid-life (I’m nearing 40). While some of the book didn’t resonate, there were passages that spoke to where I am in life and reaffirmed what I’m feeling and that taking this time is the right thing to do. The concept of Transition versus Change itself was interesting to differentiate: “Change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation and self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life.” (Page 4)
A running concept in the book is that transitions begin with an ending. Something that after reading the book makes sense, but most people seem to skip right over and plod in to their next chapter, leaving unresolved baggage unpacked, “Every transition is an ending that prepares the ground for new growth and new activities” (Page 42)
While reading, biking and relaxing I’ve often been wondering when the next big-thing is going to strike me? I’ve had more than two months off and while I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly, nothing has jumped out and struck me as the next path I must follow. Another passage in the book reconfirmed this is natural and I’m quite fortunate to have the luxury of time to ease through this transition. “Whether the source of the transition is an external change or your own inner development, the transition always starts with an ending. To become something else, you have to stop being what you are now; to start doing things a new way, you have to end the way you are doing them now; and to develop a new attitude, you have to let go of the old one you have now. Even though it sounds backwards, endings always come first. The first task it to let go. After that, you encounter the neutral zone – that apparently empty in-between time when, under the surface of the organizational situation or invisibly inside you, the transformation is going on. Everything feels as though it is up for grabs and you don’t quite know who you are or how you’re supposed to behave, so this feels like a meaningless time. But it is actually a very important time. During your time in the neutral zone, you are receiving signals and cues – if only you could decipher them! – as to what you need to become for the next stage of your work life. And, unless you disrupt it by trying to rush through the neutral zone quickly, you are slowly being transformed into the person you need to be to move forward in your life.” (Page 80)
So it seems I’m in the ‘neutral zone’ and quite happy to be here. I’ve started revisiting and revising a Personal Action Plan I worked one while studying in Hawaii, have been looking at friends’ and peers’ resumes for examples of various styles and am beginning to distil my core skills. A few more weeks and I should have a resume in-hand and be able to start looking at possible jobs I’m suited to.