Heading back outside your Comfort Zone: The Toss-In

This year I had planned to spend an extended amount of time in my Comfort Zone. In fact, I was getting quite cozy in my Comfort Zone. I got married to my amazing husband Andrew last October. I had found my footing in my new leadership role at the library and hired a remarkable young woman to take over my old position. I had an amazing 40th birthday weekend in April. Everything seemed to be falling into place. I was excited to coast for a bit. And then on a Sunday in April, Andrew’s phone rang, and we got the call that most tenants on Nantucket have come to dread or at least expect. The landlord informed us that their situation had changed, and we need to be out of our housing by the end of the year. We weren’t so naïve as to be surprised, but we had hoped we would have another year or possibly two to save a little more money and stay in our jobs a bit longer. Alas, the universe had other plans for us. In a few months, we’ll say farewell to our found family, our friends, our jobs, and our community, and set off to create a new home elsewhere. It seemed like an opportune moment for me to go digging through my old coaching manuals to refresh myself with the Cycle of Change, which compares the process of change to the four phases of a card game: The Toss-in, The Shuffle, The Deal and Playing the Game. Right now, I’m in The Toss-In phase. Just like in a hand of poker, I've played my latest hand the best I could, and it’s time for another round. At the moment, it’s hard to tell if I won or lost the game. Maybe a little bit of both. I’ve won by developing amazing friendships, taking on roles and jobs I never imagined and having all kinds of wonderful experiences in this community. I’ve lost by investing most of my adult life in a place where homeownership and stability are just not possible for us in the foreseeable future. It’s typical for anyone in the Toss-In phase to initially feel shocked, especially if they didn’t see it coming. Fortunately for us, this wasn’t an unforeseen event, but it was jolting all the same. There have been tears as I tell my friends that we’re leaving. There’s been anger that things are the way they are. I’m scared and excited and sad and hopeful and anxious. It’s been a regular emotional roller coaster. To be clear, The Toss-In is not necessarily bad, and it’s not necessarily something that happens to you. It can be something you want and something you choose. The Toss-In simply marks the end of one thing and the beginning of something else. It falls into one of four categories. Be hold!

Determining, which category your Toss-In fits into is much more subjective than you might think. Sure, Andrew and I could get upset about losing our housing (and we are!), but we also choose to see this as a gift that pushes us to take actions we have been stalling on. This Toss-In is less about what is being taken away from us and more about what we will gain by starting a new adventure. As you will see when we talk about the other three phases of the Cycle of Change, you will experience a spectrum of emotions and thoughts as you move through the Toss-In phase. There is a beginning, middle, and end. It usually starts with shock and numbness and then evolves into anger and/or fear and/or excitement. Finally, the Toss-In wraps up with a state of acceptance that things have changed. But like the stages of grief, there’s no one way to go through it, and there is no “right” way to go through it. (However, I would argue there are definitely a few wrong ways to go through, but that’s all subjective.) As of right now, I’m probably two thirds or maybe three fourths of the way to acceptance. Our bosses, colleagues and close friends on the island already know. We’ll let the rumor mill take care of the rest. The daily tears have slowed to an intermittent and occasional whimper. The news no longer colors every conversation, activity, or action in my life. It takes up a little less space in my brain. With any luck, by my next blog post, I’ll be doing The Shuffle. So, stay tuned! If you are in transition and want some strategies on how to move through the Cycle of Change with grace, self-honesty and a bit of sanity, you can reach me at janet@janetforest.com