With Every Gain, There Is a Loss
Laura Berman Fortgang


Any change can mean a loss, even if it's for the best.  Losing a job, having to relocate, watching your industry shrink, being squeezed out at a high level with few options of where to go, or simply knowing deep down that you can't avoid the truth any longer.  These are just a few reasons why you may have come to this exploration, and there are dozens and dozens more.  When it happens to you, it can seem catastrophic.  There are mortgages to pay and lifestyles to keep up and children to educate and obligations to meet.  If there weren't, these things would be inconsequential.  It becomes critical, no matter what level of change you will have to endure as you contemplate what's next, to accept the situation and find ways to shift your attitude from loss to opportunity.  Every ending is an opportunity for something better.  Even a painful divorce or death of a loved one can, in time, become an invitation to grow and give long-forgotten parts of you a chance to see the sun.

In a state of loss, your creativity is down, your senses get numb, and you lack motivation and energy.  It's a contagious energy that will be telegraphed to would-be employers, partners, mentors, and supporters, and it will wear you down and limit your possibilities.

An attitude of opportunity, on the other hand, although somewhat difficult to sustain, will breed a higher energy level from you and all you come in contact with.  It will move things from hopeless to fruitful, so please get on the bandwagon now. . . . take stock and revisit what you have in your talent and capabilities arsenal.

Letting Go

Exploring options through the screen of bitterness and anger is virtually impossible.  Your judgment is clouded, and everything is colored by your boiling blood.  Maybe it would help to know that those feelings are simply a wake-up call, a call to learn more about yourself, and a call to tap the wiser part of yourself.

Many people have been treated unfairly, cheated of their rightful place and compensation, robbed of their sense of trust for contracts and agreements, and have lost their footing as they grappled with how things have changed in our world.  You have every reason to be upset when the rug has been pulled out from under you, whether personally or professionally.  It's normal for your emotions to be all over the map as you watch the foundation of your belief system and physical life crumble.  The beauty of it, however, is that you get to rebuild, and this time, correct any flaws that you had to overlook before.  The sooner you can get out of victim mode and into architect mode, the better.

You may be reading this book without having endured a loss and are merely being proactive, as it is now clear that you must make a change.  Either way, you can stand to look at how you can quiet your ego, which may be telling you how crazy you are to consider giving up a sure thing, or that you are too old (young, unqualified, or stupid) to start over.  This step is about getting in touch with your Life Blueprint buried beneath the set of circumstances that support a lie--a misguided version of what is really true for you.  You get the point.

Moving On

The key to being able to move on is taking the good with you.  Take stock of what you can carry forth with you into a new situation--those qualities, skills, and lessons that will serve you indefinitely.  What you cannot carry forth with you was just the package those qualities came in.  Say good-bye to the package--the clothes, the status, the opinion others have of you, the perks, the bells and whistles, the people that are only there because of the trappings.

You may have formed a whole identity around that package, so you must separate it from the gifts that are inside it.  Those are transferable and permanent.  The package will always be dispensable.  We mistakenly give too much power to the package.  The elements of your Life Blueprint are in the permanent pieces.

I spent many years as a professional musical theatre actress and its various forms of supplemental employment.  When it became painfully clear that I was not succeeding at the level I wanted and that I could no longer tolerate that lifestyle I had to lead to achieve my goals, I felt like an utter failure.  I had failed at my dream.  I was inconsolable, and it took me a long time to move on because of my level of disappointment.  At the time, I did not have the hindsight I have now and the tools I now use with my clients.  I wish I had.  At the time, I could not appreciate how much that career had given me.

I marvel now at how many of the skills I honed during those years serve me exceptionally well now.  Years of being onstage gave me the ability to speak easily in front of audiences of any size.  It gave me the ability to think on my feet and to be flexible when surprises are thrown my way.  I've done more radio and TV as an expert than I ever did as an actress, but I give credit to those years for my facility and joy in doing it now.  The years of analyzing characters and their motivations as I prepared for a role have helped me immeasurably in working with clients.  And the list goes on.  Even my ability to multitask, strengthened by years of working as a waitress, serves me incredibly well as a working mother of three children.  None of it was a waste. . . .

Saying good-bye to the package will be harder than taking stock of your net gain from your experience.  The reason for this is that we have culturally learned to attach more value, and inherently, our self-worth, to the package than we have to the growth that came with it.  That is why we get so much opposition from the people in our life when we decide to move away from something that seems to be working well for the people who are watching our lives--for example, giving up what looks like a successful career that is in reality making you miserable.  You'll hear a lot of noise from naysayers.  "How can you give up that big six-figure salary?"  "Do you know how many people would kill to have an amazing gig like yours?"  "Opportunities like that will never come your way again!"

A person who successfully let go of the package is Meryl, a client who wanted to leave an empty marriage but feared the loss of her status as the spouse of a powerful man.  She endured years and years of frustration and sadness because she had created an identity around the package of her rich, influential spouse.  It took a lot of therapy, courage, and resolve to accept what would mean the loss of the package and the start of her own meaningful life.  She eventually did and, through our work, found a wonderful career being an advocate for people with mental illness.  All her contacts and old friends from the marriage became valuable donors to her cause.

The package is an illusion; only the parts you can carry forth are real.  The package is the past, and what you can bring forward with you is the future.  The parts that cannot be taken away by circumstances are the parts we want to take stock of now.  Even if you have not lost anything or are not leaving anything right now, consider what it might be like to give up the things you will have to give up to make the change you are contemplating.

This straightforward volume attempts to help readers find what it is that they truly want and make a plan for getting it. Fortgang (Living Your Best Life) has designed a 90-day plan—with seven weeks (or 49 days) dedicated to discovering what it is they want, while the rest of the days are devoted to making it happen. She opens with a few anecdotes of clients for whom her strategy has worked; then she presents a sequence of chapters outlining week-by-week goals.


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