5 PCS Strategies for Navigating the Space Between Leaving and Arriving
PCS season in upon us, and once again many of us find ourselves in that in-between space between leaving one place and arriving in another.
You’ve said your goodbyes…perhaps multiple times. You’re sad to be leaving, but at the same time you feel so-freaking-ready for something new.
The hellos on the other side are pending. Perhaps you’ve connected with a few people at your future duty station, but for the most part, those relationships are fantasy, imaginative, uncommitted.
And there you are -- floating in the middle. You’re out there hanging between two homes. It’s an incredibly unique place of limbo and it can feel daunting and overwhelming. But, what if I told you there are actually some gifts in that space? What if you could harness the power of the space between leaving and arriving to connect more fully to what’s happening now?
Here are five ways to navigate the in-between space that will leave you feeling more prepared for whatever comes next.
1. Feel all the ways.
I like to call the emotions during this time – sweet sadness. It’s actually my favorite emotion during times of transition. It’s not uncommon to be confused or stressed by weird and complicated emotions. It doesn’t always feel good, but learning to be present with all the emotions that come up is essential to better understanding ourselves as we go from place to place. Just the simple act of taking a deep breath and naming our emotions (in your head is fine) can do wonders for our ability to move through our emotions instead of turning away from them. Research says when we do that, we’re better equipped to learn from our experiences.
2. Say “no” sometimes.
When you’re transitioning you’re bombarded with requests to connect. Saying goodbye when you leave and reestablishing relationships when you’ve been away is important to creating community that feels mobile no matter where you go. However, during transition it’s more important than ever to create boundaries around your time and space. Saying yes to every opportunity to grab a coffee, meet for dinner or get the kids together can leave you feeling overwhelmed in what is already a challenging emotional ride. Take time to think about the people you most want to see or connect with and then make plans that prioritize those relationships so that you don’t spread yourself too thin.
3. Know your people.
Most of us have at least one person we know we can talk to no matter what we’re going through. It’s that person who is honest (so she’ll call you on your crap) and gentle (so even with the crap, she loves you). Transition is not the time to go it alone. We’re not strong and resilient because we don’t reach out and ask for help, we’re strong and resilient because we do. We know what it takes to go from place to place and we therefore must choose to connect with people who’ll be there when we need them. Connecting during the uncertain, in-between times can be especially meaningful because allowing ourselves to be vulnerable builds stronger, deeper relationships.
4. Remember your non-negotiables.
What are the habits you most need to maintain balance during your normal routine? We all have at least a few things that we know help us feel more like ourselves – exercise, a phone call to a friend, plenty of sleep, a quiet cup of coffee in the morning. The same habits are even more important when you’re between homes. Make a plan for how to keep these habits in your schedule even when your schedule is a bit up in the air. Start to think of these things like food and water. Prioritizing self-care for even a few minutes each day can help you come out on the other side of a move feeling like yourself.
5. Practice being comfortable with not knowing.
I know what you’re thinking – “Ugh! I hate not knowing!” Me too. I get it. But, here’s the thing -- no matter how much we Google, control, and manipulate, a lot of unpredictability will still be there. We can’t predict every single outcome. Just like confronting our emotions head-on, we can deal with not knowing, by admitting it’s there and practicing becoming more comfortable in that space. Do this by noticing how you feel emotionally and physically with uncertainty. Pay attention to the things you do (Googling? Over planning?) when you’re worried about the uncertainty of what’s ahead. Examine whether those things help or hinder your sense of dread. When we learn to cultivate comfort with ambiguity, we’re much more open to seeing things as they are and thus more likely to make adjustments that fit our life as it is.
What other strategies would you add to this list? Find more ideas here.
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Meet Jodi Harris
Jodi Harris is a mother of three, wife of a U.S. diplomat, certified coach (ACC), Personal Leadership facilitator, mindfulness teacher, and writer. She has over 15 years of experience working with individuals outside of their home cultures, and prior to moving overseas, she practiced as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is originally from Austin, Texas and has lived in Spain, Northern Ireland, Japan (twice), the Dominican Republic, and Madagascar. Through her coaching practice, World Tree Coaching, LLC, she works with diverse clients all over the world through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, and facilitation. She specializes in reminding the globally mobile community how capable and amazing they really are and supports people in finding a sense of home no matter where they go.