The Playbook for When Life Changes

Life is change.

And most of us didn’t get any kind of formal training on what to do when anticipating a major life change or when one is suddenly upon us. I find this odd considering just how many changes most of us will experience. How many of these have you experienced or are in your future?

  • partnering/marriage
  • becoming a parent
  • losing a parent
  • losing a spouse
  • a major career shift
  • retirement
  • divorce
  • the sale of a business
  • a legal settlement
  • a windfall

Some of these, such as the loss of a spouse, can take years to adapt to. Years. Most people don’t know that and also don’t have a clue about how to handle it. And we’ve all heard about lottery winners going bankrupt and retired people becoming depressed and anxious. Something similar is happening there–an inability to manage and adapt to change due to the reality that we simply don’t teach such things in school.

Our lack of understanding about what is happening across our inner landscape is what leads us to behave in what appear to be uncharacteristic ways. In reality, the behaviors aren’t so much uncharacteristic as they are uninformed. When we are uninformed we frequently revert back to prior and instinctual behaviors. Change thrusts us into uncertainty, and we merely react in ways intended to help us survive.

Fortunately, there is so much you can do to learn from your previous transition experiences and prepare for your next one. You can actually set the stage for the best outcome, even for a major life event steeped in tragedy. I’m thrilled to have been able to share my playbook for when life changes with some of the most present, skilled professionals in the world–some of the best human beings I could ever hope to know.

The work of transitions involves first embracing change as a continuous part of life and always an opportunity for growth. Change is an invitation to reinvent any part of your life that isn’t working for you. It’s an open door to a new depth of feeling, a new perspective on your relationships, and a new view of your identity. It’s rarely pain-free, and there’s no guarantee that even those with the most positive mindsets will find it easy. But change isn’t going anywhere. The sooner you befriend and learn how to make your way through the change in your own unique way, the better equipped you will be to handle your next transition.