By Dr. Maria G. Hernandez
Latina Cubicle Confidential™
Graduations, weddings, baptisms — this is the season when many of us are enjoying some of life’s biggest transitions. If you are in the middle of one of those remarkable moments, it can be a great time of celebration that helps us see our lives with new perspective.
It can also create some anxiety about taking on more responsibility or losing routines we found so comfortably familiar. The toughest kind of change is when it happens in both our personal and professional lives — you just got married and you received a promotion. You’ve graduated with your degree and you need to move across the country for your first job.
Can we say stressful?
On the surface, your friends and family expect you to be happy and excited about all your achievements and yet the stress is undeniable. Shifting gears or making successful transitions is part of life and your success through those experiences hinges on getting yourself prepared mentally, physically, and spiritually. It also means knowing how stress shows up for you: not eating well, not sleeping enough, not exercising, or not connecting enough with family and friends.
If any of those become your stress response, there can be plenty of negative consequences to you physically, emotionally and yes, professionally. Since change is the one constant in life, make sure you prepare for the big transitions and learn how to shift gears. Here are just a few important considerations to take into account when you find yourself in a major transition.
Manage your options. I have seen individuals pile on the change like there is no tomorrow: getting divorced, quitting a job and moving abroad all within one six-month time frame is truly asking for a major meltdown. If one part of the transition facing you is completely out of your control, take control over what you can manage on your own. The most healthy and successful people tend to create options for themselves. Make choices work for you.
Use your support network. When you are facing a transition, it is time to rally with your friends and your personal board of directors! Talk about the transition and ask them to hold you accountable for keeping in touch or let them know you need reminders about checking in on your progress. If you let someone else know that you want them to ask you about keeping your exercise routine, you are more likely to follow through.
Invest in yourself. This doesn’t mean “splurge”! If your anxiety and stress compels you to go shopping, those new shoes and dress can feel good only for so long and then the source of your stress is still there. A real investment in yourself is to find a class that builds your professional toolkit. Your transition may be a great time to find a professional coach or get a mental health check up with a therapist. These are investments that sometimes Latinas might feel guilty about spending, but these can be real “game-changers” for your future. You are worth that investment!
Build on Your Success Routines. There are key habits worth developing in our fast-paced world that can help you reduce the stress of unnecessary surprises, missed deadlines, or appointments. I check emails first thing upon waking so that anyone I work with in earlier time zones isn’t stuck waiting for a reply on something urgent. Some weeks, the list of things to do is so daunting that it helps to write down on a 3×5 card what three things I must get done today and to put that on my laptop or carry it with me throughout my appointments.
Daily Routines is a wonderful collection of the routines followed by some of the world’s most famous writers, politicians and artists — you may find a routine is just the thing to make it through the biggest changes in your life.
Dr. Maria G. Hernandez has 20 years experience consulting in both the United States and Mexico to senior executives in Fortune 50 companies and facilitated change initiatives for elected officials and their staff. She has worked in academia, business, nonprofits, technology startups, and public agencies. For more information, visit Latina Cubicle Confidential™.