We all deal with major life changes—it’s part of being human.
Whether it’s death, changing jobs, re-locating, or another significant event, each person will confront periods of transition. And these transitions are important.
When handled poorly, they have the possibility of making things worse.
Take job loss, for example. If you sulk in sadness and frustration to such an extent that you become unable to apply for new jobs, then you’ve created an even more difficult situation than before.
Another example may include the death of a loved one. If you hold in your feelings of grief, you may prevent your support system from offering you the love and compassion you need to heal.
But when handled well, transitions can set you up for long-term success.
Let’s re-think both of the examples described above. This time from a more thoughtful and opportunistic perspective.
You’ve just lost your job. You desperately need a form of income. Now, instead of allowing your bitterness to perturb your ability to engage in a job search, lets imagine that you use these feelings of sadness and frustration to find help.
You start seeing a coach or therapist. You increase your physical activity. And suddenly you have the momentum and confidence to start finding your next place of employment.
Similarly, you experience a death in the family or someone close to yourself. You give yourself time and space to grieve. You ask for help when you need it. You accept that this loss is one of life’s most difficult and humbling challenges.
Then, you reflect on your life–engage in a self-audit. You determine that you hold certain values that you’ve let fade into the background as you’ve been busy working towards a meaningful career.
Confronted with this fact, you empower yourself to reconnect to something that you value–let’s say painting. You start building in a small sliver of time into each week that you use to paint.
Now you continue working towards building the career you want, and you feel greater fulfillment. You’re enlivened through this reconnection to your values. And you hold that person’s memory in your heart, knowing that they made you a better person.
Transitions and major life changes are some of the most difficult events. They always knock us off our feet and shake us to our core. But, in spite of their brute force, they are often accompanied by a subtle grace–the blessing of opportunity.
In each transition, there is an opportunity for growth. To become more conscious. And to confront harsh aspects of life so that you can build a strong foundation upon which to continue living.
As a coach and licensed therapist, helping people through these transitions is something I value. It reminds me of my own major life changes. My own process. And my desire to continue growing despite obstacles.
From my personal experience and the wisdom of my clients, here are five simple things to do when you find yourself dealing with a major life change:
1. Practice mindfulness to soak up the small things.
This is counter-intuitive. Especially if the life change is difficult. But the truth is that when the going gets tough, thoughtful and considerate people get more conscious. People that struggle get more unconscious.
Step up and choose the former.
2. Recognize the impermanence of all things–including this transition.
Nothing lasts forever. Whatever is happening in this moment is temporary. Allow yourself to feel and experience this moment. Trust that you can both break and be strong. Open yourself up to this experience, knowing that it too shall end.
3. Give yourself encouragement and compassion like you would a friend.
Imagine that your friend was going through your same situation. Speak to yourself with that same tenderness. You are important and deserving of love during this time period.
4. Reach out to friends (and others) to share your emotional experience.
Sharing your feelings is an invaluable part of working through difficult and exciting moments. Re-connect with friends and/or reach out to professionals that want to help you grow.
5. Use this challenging time to re-orient yourself to your values.
Life changes are times for reflection. Give yourself permission to take pride in your growth and pause long enough to re-commit to the things that make life worth living.
If you use these five practices during transitions, you’ll not only have a better experience in the moment, you’ll also be creating a path to a more fulfilling future.