Have you found yourself smack in the middle of a life transition? Whether it was inflicted upon you with the loss of a job or relationship, or maybe brought on of your own accord in an effort to make this year more meaningful than the last, change is never easy. Stress in one area of life can lead to an unraveling of another, triggering a negative series of events. How can you stop that kind of cycle before it begins… and make change work for (instead of against) you?
One of the most impactful things we can do is to twist unexpected transitions into an opportunity for reinvention. More can be gained by tackling transition as opposed to letting it topple you. Who hasn’t thought why do these things keep happening to me? Shift your mindset away from mental chatter and replace it with tactics for turning desires into actualizations.
With unexpected changes, like a separation, job loss, a child leaving home… you may end up with a lot more time and freedom in your day-to-day schedule. The tendency can be to gravitate to comfort zones. Some of this can be healthy, but we need to be careful not to fall back into familiar territories that don’t essentially enhance our life.
Everybody, at one time or another has said, if I only had more time…I would climb that mountain, reconnect with a loved one, start that writing class, etc. Now you’ve got the time, vow to make the most of it. Don’t give into your panic in an attempt to fill a void. Instead spend your time with more productive thoughts like figuring out where you want to be and then developing a tactical plan to get there.
When change is not our own choice it can be painful to look back, but it will be disastrous if you don’t. So you have to ask yourself some tough questions.
1. Did you like yourself in your former life, job or relationship, exactly as you were, or did you yearn to be different?
2. Were you doing something you were born to do, or did you fall into a position and wonder how you ended up doing what you did? Did you ever wake up feeling like you were living someone else’s dream instead of your own?
3. Who do you want to be when you grow up? Regardless of your age you’re never too old to keep asking. Are you there yet? Are you close, or maybe not even in the same galaxy?
4. If you were gone tomorrow, would you be happy with where you’ve been and what you’ve accomplished, or would you have regrets?
5. Do you seek counsel from anybody and everyone? Are you constantly looking to others for guidance about your own your life?
If you answered yes to at least one of the questions (or to all of the above) you’ve got some work to do to take your transition and put it to work for you.
Give yourself 30 days to make the most of your situation, and go one step further by using it as a jumping point towards a life you are content with.
Week one: Get reacquainted with yourself
Make time to explore your emotions around change. Each day jot down two positive things that currently exist in your life. Then write down two positive traits that you see exhibited from someone you admire and respect.
Next, come up with one positive thing you can do for yourself each day of the week. It should be something that makes you feel good about yourself and your place in time – a walk in the park, a game of basketball, coffee with a friend, or simply reading a good book. By committing to the plan, you’re staying present in the moment and diverting time and energy away from your tension.
Week 2: Look at what’s not working
Now that you have a plan for the positive, examine some things that may be creating negative forces in your life – that extra baby weight you put on, those caffeine stained teeth, or just the messy sink. List those things, small and large, that are nagging you. For every negative, you need a countering resolution. It could be as simple as washing the dishes to developing a meditation practice. Assign a day of the week to each solution and check in at the end of each day to measure your success.
Week 3: Create your road map for contentment
Get tactical about how you can change your life circumstances. If you’re out of work, identify the types of jobs you seek, find an effective means for targeting those positions, and connect with people to help get you there. It’s important to make sure your tasks are attainable. Saying you want a new job earning $200,000 may just not be reasonable so don’t set yourself up for failure. Assign timeframes to those tasks.
Week 4: How’d you do?
It’s time to take another inventory, this time noting your progress. Do you feel more comfortable with your transition? Are you clear on where you want to be and the best course to get you there? If the answer is yes, it’s important to acknowledge your accomplishments. Identify any remaining areas that still need attention or growth. If the answer is no, then start again with more determination.
Is it time to celebrate your success? You can come a long way in a short while – and get a whole new life. Over your lifetime you will encounter numerous phases and states of transition. Instead of hitting the panic button when faced with change, visualize how it could catapult you to the next level. Then get busy making it happen!
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