Grieve… to Grow

lost future

Most of us understand the importance of grieving the loss of a person or a pet that we loved and were attached to.

What’s harder for many of us to understand is the importance of grieving the loss of a desired or imagined future. You see, when you’re planning a future and it doesn’t materialize, there’s grief in that too. Before you can grow from it, you must grieve it.

Let us explain.

An executive coaching client of ours had a good job and worked with us to get a promotion. She was very successful in her new role and after several years she was recruited to a firm in another part of the country.

After 8 months in her new firm, she called us to say that she wasn’t pleased with the company and was ready to look for her next opportunity, but felt stuck.

We talked about what was missing at the job she’d taken, how her skills weren’t being utilized, how the culture wasn’t as promised—and then we talked about her lost future.

Her “lost future” was that she had planned her life and saw her future with Company X, but it turned out that Company X was not all it had been promised to be. Much like a death, she was in the process of letting go of an image of how she wanted to be in the world and she needed to grieve.

Once she felt the pain of not being valued, the sorrow that came from promises broken, and the reality that what she’d thought was going to be her future wasn’t going to happen, she could move on.

Humans see their future and start to live as if it’s true.

 
Despite all of our creative endeavors, we actually don’t like change very much. So when we’ve based our thinking on one future, it’s difficult to switch gears—especially when we haven’t taken the time to grieve “what should have been” so that we can then grab hold of “what will be.”

Grieving isn’t wallowing.

 
When you grieve a lost future, you look at what you’d expected life to look like in order to recognize that it won't be your life. When you grieve, you face the truth of your situation so you can learn from it and move forward toward a new future standing in the reality of what is. 

Once you're standing in the reality, you’re able to ask yourself: Are you different as a result of this experience? Could you have done something differently? Were you too starry eyed, causing you to overlook pieces of data? 

Grieving positions you to learn from loss so that going forward you make better decisions and show up fully and confidently.

This week, we encourage you to reflect on any lost futures that you may have experienced in your life. Let yourself grieve, learn from them, and move on.

Your new future awaits as long as you don’t keep one foot in the past.

Let us know how we can help.

Take care of yourself,
Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting


If you’re feeling stuck and need help moving forward in your career, coaching could be a great solution for you. Click here to contact us today.

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  • Linda Carpenter, Stephanie Smith

    Carpenter Smith Consulting

    Linda Carpenter and Stephanie Smith started Carpenter Smith Consulting in Portland to support individuals and teams who dream about having the power, impact and influence to create success and meaning in ... Read full profile
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