This has been an interesting year—to say the least. For some, a necessary pause, a time to re-group and re-prioritize. For others, a much needed and incredibly important time of self-realization. Either way, it has been challenging.
For most of us, COVID-19 has been the biggest life transition that we’ve had to navigate through. In the blink of any eye we were forced to create a new normal that felt anything but normal.
Whether you entered this year recently divorced, have suffered the loss of a loved one, are in the process of retiring, or you recently became an Empty Nester (or you’re the one that’s leaving the nest), you’re dealing with a major life transition.
Prior to this transition, you may have felt like you were part of something – you had a plan and felt a sense of security. Now you feel stuck. You have no idea how to create the next chapter of your life, and you are scared of what comes next. All your insecurities seem magnified and they have all re-surfaced at the same time and in full force. The lack of control coupled with the fear of the unknown is what makes navigating through any life transition difficult, but it does not have to be that way.
The good news is, there are techniques you can implement that will help you navigate through any life transition with more certainty, confidence, and control.
The first thing that I recommend to my clients is incorporating a stress strategy that feels good to you and that you could commit to daily. Meditation, daily journaling, and creating your circle of trust are a few techniques that I find particularly effective when navigating through a major life transition.
Meditation gets a bad rap and people tend to think that meditation requires too much work. I am here to tell you that is not the case. If you could find 10 minutes a day to just sit quietly and focus on a word, choose any word: love, hope, peace and just say the word.
Your mind will wander, constantly at first, but gently bring your mind back to the word. Over time and with practice meditation will allow you to regain control of your mind and your thoughts.
2. Daily Journaling
Daily journaling is an important step because it helps you to unpack your thoughts and feelings. You will be surprised at what happens when you put pen to paper. It is also important to allow your mind to release negative thoughts and beliefs.
People find journaling right before bed a therapeutic way to unpack any conflicts, concerns or daily struggles—allowing yourself to go to bed with a “clear head.”
3. Create Your Circle of Trust
The most important strategy is creating your circle of trust. The people that you include at your table are people that should enhance your life in some way.
When you are going through a major life transition, the people closest to you should receive you in a way that enables you to feel supported. It is in our DNA to be connected and to feel connected and when we are in the midst of emotional turmoil, the people at your table—the ones closest to you—are going to be the ones that support you through this new chapter.
4. Create Your Why
Once you have established your stress strategies, it is time to create your why. Your why will be your motivation. Here is what I’ve learned about motivation. At some point, the burden of pain, unhappiness, or discontent of living a certain way becomes greater than the pain or discomfort of changing.
In other words, at some point, it is easier to change than to stay the same. It becomes easier to handle the fear of the unknown than to be in an unhealthy situation.
Once you have identified the underlying desire for your motivation then you must take the time to really develop your why? What do you want? What is the underlying desire? Why do you want it? Why do you have that desire? Identify the desire. Be specific – break down the desire. Write it, say it, feel it, believe it!
How do you maintain your motivation? Every morning you should read your why! Create a vision board that contains images representing your next best self, your next best life. Be mindful of your thoughts – dispel negative self-talk; replace with positive talk. Visualization: Create your mental future self with your goals achieved!
Every morning and right before bed, close your eyes and see your life. See yourself on the other side. See yourself as you are when you bridge over to the other side.
5. Create a Routine
Okay, you have your stress strategies and your why, now you must create a routine. Having a routine can be the difference being sinking and swimming. Having a routine allows you to get stuff out of your head and just done. We have so much that we must think about and so much stuff coming at us planned and unplanned that we must deal with, having a routine really simplifies life for us.
When we create a routine, we are developing good habits that allows us to reach our full potential, it also helps to eradicate bad habits that do not serve us well. If you are navigating through a life transition, a good place to start is your daily routine.
Your daily routine will become what empowers you and enables you to reach goals and achieve your successes. Identify what it is you do or want to do and then make a list; it is okay to be specific. There are habits that are best implemented at specific times of the day. Habits that you feel are more difficult for you to commit and see through are best done in the AM hours. Great example of this could be your daily workout.
6. Watch Your Language
Finally, the language we use in everyday life both represents and impacts how we experience our world. We attempt to capture thoughts, ideas, and to describe what we see around us using words. Inevitably, things get “lost in translation.” We lose information through “generalizations,” “deletion” of information and “cognitive distortions.” Distortions is where some aspects of ideas and experiences are given more weight and focus than others.
We all do this both consciously and unconsciously, and how we do this provides pointers to our underlying beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world. During any life transition or challenging time, it is important to “stay out of your head—it’s a bad neighborhood!’
Navigating through a life transition can be difficult but with the above techniques it can be done with more certainty, confidence, and control.
You got this, and I got you!