Life Transitions: How to Prepare and Thrive

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When I was growing up, my Mom had a lot of "sayings." And one of them was: "The only thing constant in life is change." As ironic as that statement is, it's true. No one can stay still. No one can keep their life exactly the same forever. We all move through time, we all get older, and no one is immune to life transitions.

But many people don't like change because they find it scary. I'll never forget the wise words someone told me when I was going through my divorce. I was telling him that although I knew the divorce was for the best, I didn't like the uncertainty about the future that it brought with it. And that's when he said, "Uncertainty breeds opportunity." And although I am always the kind of person who re-frames life and puts a positive spin on everything, I had never thought of uncertainty that way before. So it really stuck with me.

I am the kind of person who likes predictability. I like routine, and I am a person of habit. I carefully design my life to minimize stress and uncertainty. Of course, it's impossible to completely do that, because unexpected and unwelcome things can happen to anyone at any time.

If you're going through (or about to go through) a life transition, think about this: your track record for getting through it is 100% so far. Notice I didn't say it was always easy, but you got through it. With every grade promotion in elementary through high school, every graduation, every break-up, every move, every new job... we have all been through it. Some people embrace or even thrive on change. Sometimes it's exciting and welcome. But sometimes it's sad, yet inevitable.

I am also the kind of person who plans ahead -- and I mean WAY ahead. Like years ahead. I know a lot of people think that's a bit crazy, but it does help me out in life. For example, in the last several years of my Dad's life, I knew his health was declining pretty rapidly. And every time I left him, I would think, "I hope this is not the last time I see him." It may sound morbid, but it helped me emotionally prepare for the inevitable loss of my father. Not that it wasn't excruciatingly painful when the time did come, but at least I wasn't surprised. And I was more emotionally and mentally prepared.

One more life transition that I am mentally and emotionally preparing for lately is the "empty nest" phase of my life. I am not there yet, but I know it's looming on the horizon in several years. So I've been doing a lot of reflecting and preparing for when the time comes. Again, it may sound crazy, but I am already thinking about how I will probably sell my house and down-size. So what have I been doing for a while? I look around on the internet searching for houses or townhouses that I could see myself living in. I do research about how to get the highest price for my house when I do decide to sell it. Because of course, who doesn't want to maximize the profits from the sale of their house? It will kill me to leave this place because I love it so much. But I will, because it just makes good logical sense to sell it rather than keep it.

So while my next anticipated life transition is the empty nest phase, I face it with mixed emotions. I love being a mother. Truly, I do. I have enjoyed my kids so much -- although it hasn't always been easy. And while I love raising them, I also know that with preparation and positive mental attitude, I will not only welcome that life transition when it happens, I will probably thrive.

I could go on and on about the life transitions I think about, and that we all go through. But what helps me get through it is planning and positive mental attitude. I remind myself that every time I thought something went "wrong," many times it turned out great. Or if I thought I wouldn't get through something, I always did.

So if you're facing a life transition of any kind, remember that sometimes it helps to "rehearse it" in your head, visualize, and take actions to prepare yourself for the inevitable. Transitions can be awesome. It all depends on you how you handle them.