“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” –Anais Nin
All of us find ourselves steering our boats through major life transitions at some point. Divorce. Job change. Children. Dating. Health issues. Moving. Death. Each of these (and more) major transitions can present both terror and huge opportunity for personal growth. Our confidence is tested. Our values are questioned. Our relationships are examined. Right is now left, up is now down. What was, is no longer, and what is, is messy. I have been there. I have parted ways with a job I felt comfortable in, and am striking out on a new career path. I was recently divorced. My days are spent re-imagining my purpose and where I feel most comfortable and most powerful making a difference.
Some days we are confidently rowing our boat through transition du jour with purpose and intention. Feeling motivated and on track. We got this. Other days confidence is low, self-doubt kicks in, loneliness washes over, and all we can do is let the boat ride the tide. It is easy to get overwhelmed by unemployment, financial insecurity, anger at the unfairness, frustration that things are taking much longer than we want them to, doubtful that the right life partner will ever come along, questioning whether we are parenting our absolute best.
On days like this, reach out. Call family, meet a friend, tell your coach you are stuck in the muck. Call the people who know you best, who will affirm you and remind you that you are awesome. Call on those relationships that fill you up. Snuggle with your kids more. Ask your neighbor to join you for dinner. Go to a coffee shop to work on that job application or LinkedIn profile. If you reach out, you will get responses. It’s like a hug – when you hug someone, you get a hug back. Don’t wait for people to reach out to you.
Reach in. Figure out what brings you joy and go do it. Learn something new, read books, meditate. Get comfortable with your own company. Especially if your transition is a divorce or a big move, the more you can settle in with yourself, the resilient you will feel to loneliness.
Build your community. Find people who you identify with, who you can be real with, who will have your back and you theirs.
Exercise and physical strength boosts confidence and emotional health. It also forces you to focus on something else for a while. Challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone. You’ll be proud you did. Getting outside in nature is restorative and nourishing. Breathe in gratitude for the beauty around you, and feel reminded that you are one of a myriad of pieces that make up this big wide world. It will give you perspective.
Dig deep to clarify your values and life purpose. With every decision you make — where to live, where to apply for a job, how to parent in this moment, who you want to date, how to have the difficult discussion with your partner, how to co-parent with your ex – your values are consulted and honed. Your values are your rudder, especially when you feel stuck. Your life purpose will keep your boat on course, even if it’s riding the tide today.
Let go of control. Life will happen, things will work out in time, and not on any timeline that we want! Sometimes we have to be in the mess for a while. Sometimes there’s just no way out but through the middle, which is really uncomfortable. Trust that things will be okay. They will.
Get curious about the mess. What are you are feeling? Who do you want to be in this world? What are you proud of? What are you challenged by? What does a fulfilling life look like to you? If you could want anything (you can!), what would you want? Write it down, start a journal.
It’s times like these that push us to grow, deepen, and connect in ways we couldn’t do with old patterns and situations. Take some risks and build your mettle.
Be grateful for friends, family, generosity of spirit, and the open road ahead.