Life is filled with transitions of many kinds such as moving out on your own, getting married, going away to college, changing careers and more. How to deal with life transitions of any kind can be quite challenging.
One of the transitions that was most challenging for me was leaving a career of 21 years that I enjoyed and poured almost everything I had into it. It became a part of my identity.
It was one of the most difficult things I ever did.
It took me almost a year and a half to make the final decision.
I remembered the day I handed the letter of resignation to my boss. I did it with fear and in-trepidation. What would he say? What would he think?
This was not something he expected because I had not shown any displeasure in my job or with him being my boss.
As I expected, it surprised him to the point he felt betrayed. He was really upset with me because it meant finding a replacement and we had become like a family.
I knew it was time and it was something I had to do for me and my family. I had given it all I had and was, at this point, simply maintaining. I didn't have any more to give. My health started to be affected. As a matter of fact, six months after my resignation, I had to undergo a quadruple bypass surgery.
Was it from the stress of the job and how miserable I was feeling? To some degree, it was.
This experience taught me these five creative ways on how to deal with life transitions.
1. Become More Aware
According to YourDictionary dot com, awareness is "a state of knowing and being informed of something."
Being aware of your present state of transition and what is going on around you, is very important. It is also important to be in touch with your inner feelings.
Why is this so?
You are better able to assess what is going on and have a better chance of being able to make decisions that are not just based on feelings but more so on facts.
When I was debating the decision to resign from my job, I had a number of mixed emotions. My feelings were swaying like a pendulum from one extreme to the other. It was hard to think clearly.
Knowing that this was a major decision for me, I took as much time to think, which gave my emotions some time to settle. I was also able to talk with family and friends that I trusted and received helpful feedback.
In the words of Maya Angelou: "Be present in all things and thankful for all things." Awareness allows you to do such.
2. Become Knowledgeable
Being informed as much as possible on what you're experiencing is key to managing this period of your life well. The more you know, the less in the "dark" you'll be. The less in the dark you are, the better equipped you are to manage some of your emotions.
When I handed in my resignation letter, fear crept in. The many "what if" questions surfaced. What if I fail? What if I don't get enough clients? What if it doesn't work out as I thought?
These fears felt real. I had to deal with them.
By becoming informed on what I would do in case one or more of the above questions became a reality, I was able to normalize my fears in a healthy way. This knowledge gave room for my next point.
3. Normalize Your Fears
Normalizing any behavior requires more information as established in the previous point. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word normalize means: to bring (someone or something) back to a usual or expected state or condition.
The task at hand is to normalize the fear surrounding the transition. Here's how you could begin the process. Find a way to turn the fear into a motivational one.
After educating myself about the worse thing that could happen - debilitating fear - and find another way to look at it, so I could use it to take action - motivational fear - I was able to move into more of a positive mindset.
One of the questions of not having enough clients led me to participate in more networking. In so doing, I heard from others who have been down a similar path and also what they did when they had a similar fear.
This helped me to relax.
4. Learn Valuable Lessons
There are always lessons to learn from both positive and negative situations. When we take the time to look closely, we'll find them.
As you go through your transition, look for what you've learned so far.
What I learned was that I have to be careful who I choose to share confidential information. One of the persons I thought I could trust to keep my confidence about my pending resignation, shared it with some of her close family members. This I found out later and was very disappointed to say the least.
I also learned that what seemed unbearable in the moment, is not always permanent. As a matter of fact, it rarely is.
Another valuable lesson I learned was to practice being present and to be patient.
5. Share Your Experience With Others
With these lessons in hand, you are now able to coach or mentor others who are either planning to do something similar or who are going through their own transition.
You are more equipped to help them. You have become more trustworthy because you have been there and done that.
These lessons you can share with confidence.