The Upside-Down

Did you ever get the feeling that you have come to the wrong place even though you are on the right path? I am talking about that confusing situation when you think you made the right choice but still get the feeling of being wrong. I call this feeling ‘the nutcracker’, and it is gender independent; it can apply to any gender because the ‘nut’ in ‘nutcracker’ refers to our brain. And, for you perverts using your imagination right now, yes, this is the same feeling as you have when you are hit in the nuts. Well, in this case, the pain may not be literally as much as when you are hit in the nuts, but it surely leaves you with the same feeling of not being able to breathe, move and ultimately falling on the ground holding your groin (well not literally in this case). The nutcracker, in both the cases, leaves you with a feeling which is unbearable and it leaves you in state of total and utter shock.

Did I make the right choice? This question can be more painful than the real blow to the nuts, especially when you have just made a big transition giving up everything you had achieved. The nutcracker ultimately leaves you to a state they call the ‘Upside-Down’, as in Upside-Down from the Stranger Things. The Upside-Down state is scary, creepy, dark and downright confusing. Here you get the feeling that you don’t belong, which can be quite frightening considering that you just gave up everything for this change.

How many times an immigrant feels this when they move to a new country? How many times does an entrepreneur feels this when they leave there established job to start a business of their own? How many times does a newly married person feels this after marriage?

There can be many situations, and a lot of people experience the nutcracker and swirl into the Upside-Down state. You see, be it: immigration, marriage or starting your own business; all can be nerve-racking, especially when you take a leap of faith. The fear of the unknown is the biggest reason why people don’t take risks. Most will experience the nutcracker and swirl into the Upside-Down zone even before they take the leap. These are called the daydreamers; they take decisions in their mind and back off because they perceive some kind of risk even without taking the first step. So, they are the kinds who experience failure because they could never dare to convert their ideas from thoughts to reality. But, if you are feeling the effects of the nutcracker after you took the first step, then be proud of yourself. I know there would be a time when you might feel lost and bad about giving up everything and curse yourself for taking this decision but know that:

- you are better than a thousand others who never could dare to take that first step,

- you are much better than those daydreamers who will probably sulk when you succeed in your new life/role, and they will be stuck in their miserable lives forever, because you dared to take the risk and crossed over to the other side taking that step.

So, now that you are here on the other side and experiencing ‘the Nutcracker’ and probably on the verge or already slipping in the ‘Upside-Down’ situation, here are a few things you can do to overcome this natural reaction to change:

1. Appreciate — Self-appreciation goes a long way in instilling self-confidence. Regularly, give a pat on your back (literally do that standing in front of the mirror everyday) for taking the leap of faith. Remember that you are much better than those who continuously procrastinate and don’t even dare to move out of their comfort zones. You took the risk of leaving your comfort zone, which is quite commendable.

2. Accept — Accept that it is natural to be afraid and nervous in a new country, new home (after marriage for brides), sharing room and life with someone else (for grooms), in a new business etc. Fear is a natural reaction to anything new and unknown around us. Our brains have been designed to alert our body about any danger around us, thereby creating the physiological responses in our cells to safeguard the body through physical and psychological changes (a mouthful isn’t it).

3. Review — Once you have appreciated yourself and accepted that fear and nervousness is natural, start focusing on the end goal. Why did I come here? Why did I start this business? Why did I get married? Ask yourself these questions and focus on the bigger picture. Remember that you had already thought this over before jumping into the current situation thinking about what you wanted to achieve so concentrate on that.

4. Time — This is the simplest of all the things we take for granted, and is in abundance. We never appreciate it or work on making it worthwhile. Remember that change takes time to shape up. That is why I always encourage that your pre-planning must always include SMART goals (I might do an article about this later). Don’t lose patience before the timelines you have set. During the review, ensure that you also review the timelines.

5. Patience — Again, a simple word yet hard to come by. It is quite rare in my generation and the one’s afterwards as well. In fact, it’s getting lesser and lesser in subsequent generations (As someone from the previous generation might say). I tend to differ with this. Patience is not something you are born with. You learn to harness it as per your experiences and social setting. So, if you saw too many people rushing around you (I mean your parents, friends, etc.), then chances are that you will also lack this trait. So, work on it when you decide to take that ultimate decision that has the potential to change your life. While you take risks, do bring along some patience. It’s easy just factor it in your plan and make your timelines ‘Realistic’ (remember the ‘R’ in SMART Goals). Unrealistic deadlines will always keep you on your toes and anxious as well, hence no patience. Any time you feel anxious and losing patience, then remind yourself of your goal and timelines

6. Flexible — Rigid things tend to break easily while flexible things don’t. This is a simple fact I read in physics. Ensure that your plan has plenty of room for amendments. Remember, the keyword here is unknown, and when you are dealing with the unknown, you have to ensure that you amend your plans after every review.

7. Learn — Learning is a continuous process. What worked for you earlier may not work now because conditions and people might be different so learn new things and while you are at it, ensure that you learn from your mistakes as well. Remember if mistakes were a deterrent for success, then the likes of Ratan Tata and Steve Jobs would have never achieved the greatness they achieved later on in their life. Ratan Tata is considered one of the most humble and successful business leaders in India, yet he started his career with a failure called NELCO (National Radio and Electronics). Though it collapsed due to the economic slowdown but imagine this having an impact on you when are just starting your career. He was given the reins of the oldest business empires in India, The TATA Group and today TATA Group is considered one of the biggest and most reputable group of companies across the planet. All this was possible because of his effective leadership. During Ratan Tata’s chairmanship of 21 years, revenues grew over 40 times, and profit, over 50 times (As per Wikipedia). If NELCO’s failure would’ve stopped TATA Group from selecting Ratan Tata, then TATA Group probably would have been much smaller then it is today. Also, let’s think of it from Ratan Tata’s point of view; had he lost faith in himself because of that one failure, then he would’ve never achieved what he achieved after taking over the TATA Group. Steve Jobs was thrown out of his own company, but he never gave up and made a comeback, stronger and more successful than before. So, learn-grow, learn-grow and learn-grow till you succeed. Also, note that change is the key here, use Unfreeze-Change-Refreeze methodology of Change management.

8. Stay healthy — Remember, if you are not healthy, then everything else fails. Your mind cannot think clearly if your body is sick or hurt and vice a versa if your mind is hurt or ill, then your body is affected accordingly. So, if you are planning to make a change and take critical decisions, then ensure that your health is in place; both physically and mentally.

I am a huge fan of the Stranger Things series; you would’ve guessed it by now. Remember that the nutcracker will put you down and push your mind into the Upside-Down verse, but if you follow these points, then you will bounce back quickly. Just like in the series, the Upside-Down is there around us and it just needs an opening to merge with our reality. The nutcracker is bound to take place in a new environment around new people; it’s natural and unavoidable, but through these points, you will be better prepared to deal with it and ensure that the doorway to Upside-Down remains shut and the beast lurking there doesn’t harm you.

Cheers to the change you have made or are planning to make…

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