Make the Most of Life’s Changes

May 9, 2013

A friend once told me that how you process major change in your life is one of the most important things you do.

Change can either be a catalyst to new opportunities or it can create a crisis of identity. Or more likely, as it has been with me, it creates both. Change often is both an opportunity and a crisis of identity. The key is figuring out how to get more of the catalyst side and less of the crisis side of things.

Don’t waste the changes in your life.

Change is one of those things that elicits a wide range of responses. Fear or excitement. Concern or optimism. Joy or sadness. Changing circumstances are what they are, it’s often how we respond to them that defines our next steps and outlook on life.

Change is hard, and it is easy to let big changes discourage us. Whenever we are faced with times full of transition, we have a choice: we can allow our perspective to be controlled by anxiety and fear, or we can can instead view the change as an opportunity for growth. The choice you make determines whether you will stunt your personal growth, or cultivate it.

But it is difficult to maintain the perspective that seasons of big change are growth opportunities. Here are some things that I’ve learned to help process and make the most of life’s transitions:

4 things to do when change happens

1. Capture the wins quickly. Thankfulness is good for the soul. When you move on to something new, take time to reflect on the season you are just coming out of. Write down the successes and joys, and take them with you. This creates thankfulness, and gives you something to remember past seasons by.

2. Admit mistakes and failures. Nothing helps us process change better than admitting our faults. You’re not perfect and it’s healthy to admit and acknowledge that. Being honest about your mistakes allows you learn and grow from them rather than sweeping them under the carpet and pretending they aren’t there. If the mistakes are personal, deal with them quickly. Be honest with those you hurt or disappointed. Don’t get bitter. Don’t lie to yourself. Don’t let the mistakes define your future.

3. Purge the unneeded noise. There will inevitably be emails to archive, notes to file, things to organize. De-clutter your life as much as you can before beginning a new phase. If you don’t do it now, you never will. Compress the margin that the noise is taking up. Don’t try to stack unnecessary clutter on top of change. Your life is busy enough and your new situation will bring with it just as much noise. Purge to avoid paralysis.

4. Prioritize what to take with you. Which people, from wherever you are leaving, are most important? You will need to work to maintain those relationships. What did you learn that will forever impact you? Take note. What will you never do again? Take the time to remember. Once you’ve captured the wins and losses, it gives us a grid to prioritize what influences our next steps.

Life is a journey. We are constantly adjusting to new friendships, knowledge, disappointments, and stories along the way. We might as well make the most of these changes.