I was literally dancing through life, or at least, so I thought…until I began my transition from being a professional dancer, actor and singer to being a mental performance coach.
The truth is, many of us are now in a similar season of transition as we find ourselves in this new age of social isolation and work-from-home order, where our lives as we once knew them were turned on their heads.
You see, my professional career as a triple-threat performer was a blessing and I was able to do it for 11 years, but when the gigs began to slow down, it was a little frightening for me.
Fact? I was told by my parents that I could dance before I could walk, so I have literally been dancing for over 40 YEARS!!!! I’m sure you can imagine that a major part of my identity had been tied to me being a dancer (turned actor, singer, performer), for my entire life.
When things started to slow down, my path became unclear, and I had NO contingency plan in place for what I would do instead of performing.
I had to figure this out and so I dug deep to rediscover and remind myself of my other gifts and talents, which meant remembering that I was also gifted academically. I had initially begun my post-secondary journey 13 years prior and had failed miserably. Now the option to return to school was a definite reality and I was TOTALLY PETRIFIED.
However, I quickly thought of my acting classes and realized that what I was studying in there was quite relatable to what is taught in psychology.
Character analysis vs psychoanalysis??
YES!! I had found my path!!
I decided that despite my fears, I would do my degree in psychology, specializing in mental health studies. I mean, what did I have to lose, right?? And I would hate to have lived my entire life filled with regret for not at least trying.
And so it began, my seven-year journey into completing my education.
Once I had finished my master’s degree, I genuinely thought that I had completed the transition from performer to coach. This was not at all the case. Once my master’s ended, I THEN had to grieve the LOSS of my identity as a dancer.
All this, as I moved into accepting my new identity as a mental performance coach and speaker. These were new aspects of my life and career which I loved, but still, I missed the “old me”.
But was this not still “me”? Had I not simply transitioned and evolved into a different version of myself?
Yes, I had indeed, but we’re talking about switching from being on stage where I moved and flowed, to expressing myself through coaching and speaking which felt quite different for me.
Thankfully, my experience as a professional performer fed quite well into my new role as a mental performance coach. Still, somehow, I couldn’t seem to shake that feeling of wondering where the old “dancer girl” went.
I was so clear about that old version of me, and now I had to recreate and redefine my image and identity to match the direction in which I was headed. This was both exciting and daunting, all at once.
Suddenly, I realized what I needed to do: I had to honour the space between who I was, and who I was becoming, while giving myself GRACE. I needed to understand that this was a process, and release any judgment and resistance that I was experiencing, to be ok with this stage of life. Once I was able to do this, I became calmer, and while I still had to work as hard as ever, opportunities began to flow a little more easily to me.
Fast forward to today and here we are in this period of pandemic, social isolation, and a work-from/stay-at-home order. It is imperative that we give ourselves this same measure of grace at this time.
So many of our careers depend upon being face to face with our clients, which is especially challenging at this time. Now, as a result of social distancing, we have had to dig deep and “pivot” so that other ways of earning an income may show up.
For the vast majority, this has come out of left-field, and never in a million years was there a thought that such a major life change would have to be made so quickly. Still those changes must be made, and where time and situation permit, a transition into doing something new at your own pace may be possible!
For some, this may be a completely new start and not a move from doing something else at all.
I am reminded of the transition that I had to make not too long ago, and of what I learned as a result, which can also apply to a new endeavour!
So here are my top tips for creating, and transitioning to, something new during lockdown:
- Be gentle with yourself. The last thing that you want to do is start beating up on yourself for a situation that is beyond your control. Instead, replace your negative thoughts with thoughts of encouragement, even when it doesn’t feel like things are very positive.
- Stay open.Try not to have any judgment on what it is that you could possibly be doing at this time. Allow your thoughts to flow freely, so that you can welcome any new ideas to float to the forefront of your mind.
- Make a list of things that you enjoy doing.If you have the ability to make this change or to create something new, you want to move into something that will be fulfilling to you in the longrun and which can bring some joy to your life!
- Make a list of things that you are great at doing.This may or may not be immediately apparent. Some people have been so focused on their careers that they have forgotten their other interests, skills and gifts. Think as far back as you possibly can to things that you may have excelled at even as a young child!
- Identify your skills and gifts that don’t require being physically in front of your clients. Your new endeavour may absolutely be client-based, but the more that the option is there to meet with your clients online, the better off you will be, for this time.
- Start writing out what your new endeavour could look like, and by all means DREAM BIG!!!! Every new task starts with some big dreaming and goal-setting. Begin with your dream goals, and don’t worry about them being too big, it is YOUR dream! Then write out five realistic goals, which may help with you achieving your dream, and finally, write five daily goals which will bring you closer to attaining your realistic goals!
- Identify people in your circle who are familiar with what it is that you wish to do, and reach out! We are connecting more than ever nowadays, so now is the perfect time to start making the connections that can guide you towards your goals. Ask if they can recommend anyone who can be of help in any way.
- Ask for support! Many people are trying to maneuver through this time alone and eventually that is going to weigh them down. Whether you speak to a career coach, a psychologist, or a mental performance coach, the key is to have someone in your corner, for guidance, who can add a fresh perspective and so that you don’t have to go it alone!
- Have some compassion for yourself! Remember that having to give up something that you loved and enjoyed doing before you were ready to do so, can have quite an effect on a person. How you might be feeling is valid, and this is even more reason why you need to be supported during this process.
- Get to work!! If starting something new is what you feel so inclined to do at this time, then consider this moment to be a gift! It is an opportunity to get something different going and who knows, you might be able to combine it with your career prior to the pandemic!! Either way, it can be a win-win for you!!
These are unprecedented times in which we are living, and everyone is doing their best to survive and to thrive. If you are struggling with how to manage the transitions that you are facing, and you wish support, please go to my contact page and let us connect.