Growing Through A Life Change

A notepad embossed with the word "decide"

Maybe you’re newly retired. Or you’re currently going through a breakup. Or you just left your cushy full-time job to navigate the unpredictable world of freelancing.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a senior level manager or a recent college grad. A life change or transitional period can feel scary or overwhelming for anyone. 

While it may not seem like it at the time, transitions can be a good thing. Sometimes a breakup can give us an excuse to slow down, treat ourselves nicely, and get to know ourselves better. A life change can also be an opportunity to set new goals and challenges for yourself. Regardless of what happened before, you will certainly emerge from this life change a better and stronger version of the old you.

Here are some of the ways that a life change can help you grow… 

  • It’s a chance to do some self-discovery 
  • Gives you an excuse to be very generous with yourself 
  • You can reflect on the future
  • You can set your sights on new goals and things you’d like to do

Here are some practical things you can do today to recalibrate and feel more empowered and self-assured as you enter this new stage in your life. 

Do an internal check-in

When a big life change hits us, it can feel like getting smacked by a big and powerful wave. We’re so stunned, we may not even know how we really feel. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a breakup or a job promotion, any kind of significant life change is bound to affect us internally. 

A good thing to do during these new-to-you times is to take a breather and check-in with yourself.

One exercise you can do is take pen to paper and free-write for a few minutes. There’s nothing like an old school journal writing session to really let go and discover yourself. As the author Erica Jong says, “the hand and heart are connected.” Writing in your journal can really forge that connection.

If you’re not sure what to write, you can start with simple declarative statements. I am sad. I am excited. I am scared. I am nervous. 

Then try to expand from there. Try to articulate what exactly it is that you’re nervous or sad about. See if you can describe the specific sensations or emotions that you’re feeling. Don’t worry about sounding dramatic or cliched. Your journal is a judgment-free zone. No one’s going to read this but you. 

You don’t even have to write in complete sentences. Just write down random words, phrases, anything that comes to mind.

Sometimes it’s not necessarily the words themselves that can feel so liberating, but just the motion of writing down by hand that can make us feel a whole lot better.

By the end of this journaling exercise you should feel like you’ve let go of something or that you have a better grasp on how you’re feeling. You can always repeat this exercise as much as you need. 

Create a comforting routine 

When you’re thrust into a new life situation like going from fulltime to freelance, it can really feel as though your everyday life has been disrupted. 

Activities and events that you grew accustomed to, like morning commutes and coffee breaks with coworkers, are no longer around. You don’t have those mundane routines to give shape and structure to your day. When the pillars of the day are removed, it feels like you’re trying to steady yourself on shaky ground. 

And as human beings, it’s in our nature to seek comfort and stability. That’s why it’s really helpful to reset and create new routines for your day

While routines may get a bad rap for being predictable, that’s exactly what makes them so soothing during a transitional time. Routines give us a sense of order, calm, and purpose.

Here are some ideas for routines you can incorporate into your day…

  • Coffee and journaling in the morning. 
  • Walking in the park in the afternoon.
  • Dinner and a movie on Wednesdays
  • Lighting a candle after 5PM to transition to off-work mode. 
  • Facetime with family on the weekends
  • Self-care Sunday or Thankful Thursdays

Having a routine will give you something to look forward to and create a familiar and comforting rhythm to your days. With time, you may even find that you like this new routine better than the old one. :)

Create empowering goals 

When you’re going through a life change, a small but challenging goal can give you the boost you need to create momentum for yourself and regain a sense of purpose. 

To help you do that, consider setting “empowering” goals for yourself. These are goals that you know will make you feel stronger, more confident, and just plain good. These goals can be big and challenging like training for a marathon or writing your first novel. Or they can be more low-key and smaller in scale, like learning a new baking recipe or reading a book a month. 

Examples of empowering goals can be:

  • Learning how to knit
  • Creating a meditation routine
  • Visiting a new landmark or neighborhood in your city every week
  • Joining a new club
  • Meeting someone you admire for coffee every month
  • Growing a garden

If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for a goal, you can try creating a vision board to help explore what you’re looking for. Sometimes an image can tap into your innermost desires. If you find yourself gravitating toward pictures of trees and the outdoors, it could be a sign that you’re in need of some nature time. 

An empowering goal gives you something to aim for, which can really help in times of change, and it will leave you with lots of good vibes at the end. 

Sign up for a class

I’m a big proponent of signing up for a class to get you through any kind of big life change. After all, you’re going through something new, so you might as well learn something new too.

Dance class. Photography class. Creative writing class. Any kind of class will give you something to get excited about every week. You’ll meet new and like-minded people, learn interesting things, and challenge yourself. It will feel personally and intellectually rewarding.

When it comes to coping with a new life situation, take it step-by-step and be gentle with yourself. While things may feel intense and awkward at first, you’ll come out of this stronger and more resilient in the end. And remember: you are awesome!

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