In the last few weeks I've gone through a lot of change -- I got a new job (that starts tomorrow) and met a new guy (who's pretty terrific). So it's no wonder that I haven't written much here recently.
It brings up something important about change that a lot of people overlook. Every new beginning starts with an ending and a drop in performance. Before I can start my new job, I have to finish up my old one. And that means I'm not moving forward with anything new, I'm wrapping up all my old stuff. Before I can get serious with my fella, I have to stop dating other people and take down my online profiles. That makes sense.
But what most people forget is that our productivity -- at work, in our hobbies, running errands, whatever -- starts to plummet.
In that first phase, you're in an ending. Like me, maybe you're experiencing some anticipation, anxiety, and perhaps mild terror. (You don't have to experience all those feelings listed -- I'm not angry or in shock, but I might be if the choice to leave my old job wasn't mine.)
In that second phase, which I'll be entering shortly, there's a lot of waiting, confusion, topsy-turviness, and some of that anxiety can continue. Anyone who's had a new job or moved to a new city know this phase well -- how can you be efficient when you don't know where the bathroom or the grocery store is? And the big mistake we make in this phase is beating ourselves up for not being more effective and productive. But it's natural to tank here.
Eventually, though, that new beginning starts in earnest, and things start to get better. We feel more comfortable, competent, and confident in our new role. It's the new natural, or the new default state.
There are no rules about how long each phase lasts. Sometimes you're in Phase 1 for hours, other times for weeks. My personal experience is that Phase 2 lasts the longest, but that's because I'm hyper-sensitive to not being productive. (In fact, I've often taken action in that middle phase that I've regretted later because I was hasty, anxious to get going, and should have been a little more patient with myself.)
I bring this up because it's easy to get frustrated during a change -- especially if you're changing with other people. You may go through each phase fairly quickly, while a loved one or coworker doesn't. The important thing to remember is that a) if you're in the middle of a change, it does get better, and b) just because you're on board doesn't mean others will meet you there on your schedule.