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  • Writer's pictureSusan & Renée

Getting the Most out of Life’s Transitions


We talk a lot about transitions in our work at G2 Solutions. As practicing psychotherapists, we understand that while change can look simple on paper, actually navigating through the transition, can feel much more complex. 


Life transitions involve redefining yourself and that can feel like a big task. It can be difficult to figure out how to regain balance. People can feel directionless and unsure of next steps. 


Developing a rubric can give the transformation structure making it feel smoother and more predictable. Doing this can allow you to enjoy the growth that often results from moving through life’s crossroads.


In both our psychotherapy and business consulting worlds we have guided people through many transitions. We have developed a framework that can be effectively applied in both personal and work situations.


To illustrate our life transition rubric, we are going to use the example of an empty nester. For people who are parents, when they launch their children into adulthood, it is the start of a new phase of their life. They suddenly find themselves with more time and less responsibilities. People’s work lives can expand into the empty spaces that have been created by the absence of parental duties.


People start to notice that they are staying at work longer or bringing work home for the weekend. They begin to feel stressed and burnt out. The boundaries that used to seem so clear, seem much more fuzzy. Part of developing an effective rubric is to bring those fuzzy boundaries into sharp focus.


Implementing the life transition rubric starts by asking yourself this question:

 

At the end of my life when I look back, what do I want to say about how I spent my time and energy? 

 

In our experience, the answer is never “I hope I look back and have worked tons of hours”. The answers usually focus on finding meaning in life and developing satisfying relationships. This question provides the frame for all of the tasks that will become part of your own rubric.


After you have answered the ‘end of life’ question, the next step is to create an action plan. We are going to use our empty nesters to illustrate how to do this.

 

Hone in on Values: People usually find a lot of value in parenting and in work. So when kids move away, it is logical to jump into work in order to fill that gap. To reassess their values, the empty nesters have to ask themselves, “Outside of parenting, where do I find value?” Answering this question allows them to identify other activities that would bring a better balance between work and home life.  


Create Structure: When you go through a transition, the flow of life can be interrupted. For our empty nesters they are no longer running kids around or attending all of the activities that go along with raising kids. Making “personal appointments” can create a structure. It starts with scheduling time for the activities that bring meaning to your life. Whether it is volunteering, journaling, reading, crafting, getting together with friends or learning something new, these appointments need to have the same weight as work appointments. Setting and honoring alarms to stop work and move on to these activities is one way to build this structure. 

 

Find Community:  One of the impacts of transition is that your community can change. Think of retirement. When you stop going to work every day, you lose a lot of daily human contact. Similarly, people who have launched their kids often lose the parent community that defined their friend group. Actively working to build a new community will involve finding like-minded people. This may involve joining groups that focus on a shared interest.


While we focused on the example of the empty nester, this rubric can be used for any type of life transition. When we go through a transition our patterns are disrupted. Sometimes we don’t recognize for quite some time how much life’s rhythms have become upended. 


If a change is expected, using this rubric to intentionally reflect and take action can help you make graceful transformations. If the change is unexpected this rubric can help you regain your balance and feel more in control. The goal is to use the framework to experience the growth that comes from successfully navigating life’s twists and turns. 


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