Late last year I first learned about the term "liminal space". If you aren't also up on the latest personal growth terminology, here we go. The word liminal comes from the Latin word ‘limen’, meaning threshold – any point or place of entering or beginning.
It first had meaning in more of a physical setting - as in an actual threshold leading from either outside to inside or the doorway between two spaces.
Now the term is also used in more of a figurative sense. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, a season of waiting, and not knowing.
Needless to say, I find myself currently very much in a liminal space. Up until last week, I was the VP of Merchandising at Houseplant, Seth Rogen's cannabis company. I joined in the early stages and led the product team to a very successful launch last year. However, instead of feeling excited and fulfilled by that achievement, I felt a bit lost. I realized over time that it was because I had a calling beyond what I was doing in my job. I decided to heed that call, but continued leading my team on a part-time basis until my replacement was hired just last week.
So now, I am very much in that liminal space. I am in the time between what was and what comes next. It is a terrifying yet exciting place to be. That is the paradox of any kind of growth. It is scary to leave behind what we know, yet exciting to be moving towards where we want to be. In order to grow, we have to leave behind what and who we were in order to become someone new. There is naturally some grief involved in that process.
Thankfully I've found myself in liminal spaces many times in my life and have learned a few things to help me navigate this transitional time.
Do you find yourself in a liminal space? Or have a friend who might be? I hope these thoughts will help:
1. Honour the feelings that come up about what you're leaving behind. It is natural to feel some sadness or grief for what you're leaving behind, even if it is your choice to do so. Even if you know it is the right choice.
2. Consider the impact of not making the change. Whenever I'm really struggling with attachment to what I'm leaving behind, I follow the trail in the scenario that I didn't make the change. What if you stayed in that job that you know isn't quite right for you? How do you imagine that unfolding?
3. Create a strong vision for the future. Get really clear on the future you want to create for yourself. Bring it to life in your mind with detail and review it every day as a reminder of where your life is going. A friend recently suggested to me to create the "resume of my future" as a way to get clear on what I want to be doing in this next phase of my career.
4. Start taking decisive action from the place of your "next". Begin making changes to actively transition into the next phase. What does your future self need to do in order to step firmly over the threshold?
Our lives are filled with liminal spaces, whether we've identified them that way or not. Any time we're making a change (or a change is imposed on us), whether out of a job, relationship, or even an old self-identity, we're in a transition. Sometimes they are more obvious than others.
But when we acknowledge what we are going through, we can better care for ourselves through the process, allowing the excitement for what is coming to far outweigh the sadness or fear associated with what we're leaving behind. A lot of magic can happen in a liminal space.
“Honor the space between no longer and not yet”
- Nancy Levin
Kena Paranjape, Founder, All You Are