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How to Handle Major Life Transitions

handle big changes

People who seek out my organizing or interior design services typically do so because they are going through a major life transition: moving to a new home, downsizing, retiring, empty nesting, marriage, or divorce. What I’ve learned from working with people going through big changes, and also from experiencing some of these in my own life, is this: Transitions are hard. There really is no way around this. Even when our life is in flux for a good reason – the birth of a child or a new job, for example – there is a certain amount of stress we experience from adjusting to new circumstances. One way we can make these big events in life a little easier is to recognize and expect the moments of struggle. Here are some other things to consider: You can’t fast forward through it – No matter how much you wish to be all moved in to your new home or settled in to that new position at work, you can’t take a short cut. There will be a period of messiness and uncertainty and confusion. Remind yourself that you have been through hard things before and you persevered. This uncomfortable stage will not last forever. Your emotions will be all over the place – Whether it’s a welcome change or one you hoped to never experience, you are going to feel a wide range of emotions, both positive and negative. It can help to have different people that you can turn to for support, because some are good when you need a shoulder to cry on and others excel when you feel like celebrating. Choose your sounding boards wisely, and don’t expect one person to be helpful in every circumstance. There will be a grieving period – Even when you are experiencing a happy change in life you will probably feel some sadness about the loss of the way things used to be. An exciting new job means saying goodbye to longtime co-workers. Getting married means the loss of the autonomy of singlehood. Becoming a parent means pretty much everything has changed! Give yourself permission to mourn the loss of your old life, even while you are celebrating the new one. The holiday season can make all of this this even more challenging, with the added pressure to be upbeat and take part in social events at this time of year. If you’re going through something major right now, give yourself permission to say no. Allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling. If you’re not up for baking or attending that big party your friends throw every year, buy some cookies from Wegman’s and send your regrets. Ask for help if you need it. And remember, this period of transition is only temporary.

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