Many of us have been there. One day your life is happening where and how it’s happening, and then for whatever reason it is not. Sometimes we leap from the situation we were in, sometimes we’re pushed out, and sometimes we simply fall out.
What happens next is what I call Freefall: that wild, unpredictable, challenging and excitifying period that takes place between where you used to be and where you end up next.
Freefall can take place at different times and for different reasons in your life:
- Leaving home and going out on your own
- Losing or quitting your job
- Starting a business
- Closing a business
- Moving somewhere completely different
- Beginning or ending a relationship
And while Freefalling may not feel all that great when you’re in the midst of it, for many people it ends up being the best thing that could have happened to them. In fact, one of their biggest regrets is that they didn’t experience it sooner.
Given all the turmoil and transition going on today, it seems more people than ever are in that space between where they were and where they’re heading:
Nearly 1 in 3 US workers under 40 (and 1 in 5 workers overall) have thought about changing their occupation or field of work since the pandemic began, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll
A recent Pew Research Center poll found that 22% of American adults had either moved because of the pandemic or knew someone who did.
In the world of relationships, jewelers are reporting double-digit increases in engagement ring sales, the Washington Post reported
And this from a recent article in the Harvard business Review (HBR.org): “…for perhaps the first time since at least World War II, almost everyone in the world is processing major shifts in their sources of purpose simultaneously.”
Given all that, thought it might be helpful as someone who’s experienced the Freefall phenomenon several times to share some practical advice for anyone currently (or soon to be) in it themselves:
- Know that you will indeed land at some point- there will be weeks, perhaps months, maybe even years that you feel like you’re not getting anywhere. You need to remind yourself constantly that you are indeed on your way and it’s okay not to know when you will land.
- Own it- as in Blame No One. If you find yourself in a less than favorable situation, the easiest thing ever would be to stew about how you got in this position and who else may be responsible for putting you there. We’ve all been guilty of this at some point, and it may even feel good at first. Here, however, is the absolute truth: complaining, blaming others and/or playing the victim card produces nothing and gets you nowhere. Better instead to use all that energy to…
- Keep going- the people who get through Freefall the best are the people who put their head down and make things happen for themselves. Conversely, the people who struggle are those waiting for something to happen: never a good strategy when your livelihood/living situation/relationship status/future are hanging in the balance. It is both astounding and rewarding to see what taking the initiative can do for you, even if you’ve never been that kind of person before. No better time to see what you’re capable of than when you’re floating around between life experiences. Those little steps that you make happen will feel great and propel you forward to take bigger steps over time.
- Use your network- and if you don’t have one, create one. Whether you are in Professional or Personal Freefall, there are people out there who can and will help you get to wherever you are heading. Sometimes it may be by making a referral, an important connection, or just offering a terrific piece of advice. This is also something you need to make happen vs waiting for your network to magically appear.
- Do NOT settle- in a perfect world the place you land will be way better than the place you left. This is more up to you than you might think. Jumping at the first opportunity that comes along- whether that be a job, a relationship or anything in between-may not be the best course of action. You owe it to yourself to be patient here and yes, a little picky. In fact, you deserve it.
By the way, none of this will be easy. Nothing worth doing ever is. But if you keep these steps in mind and add/revise along the way, you will absolutely get to where you are heading next.
Here’s me hoping you hang on, make the most of the ride, and of course, have a happy landing.
And, if along the way you’d like to chat with someone who’s done this a time or two in his life, well here I am: firstname.lastname@example.org