August 10, 2020

Navigating Life Changes

Navigating life changes is never easy. Learn my seven strategies to get through the turmoils of life change and come out even stronger.

Navigating Life Changes

Whether you are starting college, a recent graduate, a newlywed, a new parent, or just encountering a new phase of life, navigating life changes can be extremely difficult.

There isn't a cookie cutter answer that teaches you how to deal with the emotions that come with entering into a new part of your life.

Nothing can fully prepare you for what is to come.

But that isn't a reason to despair.

There are plenty of tools and strategies that can help you through whatever change you are facing. And I guarantee you will come out stronger.

Before I dive into some of the strategies I plan to share today, I want to tell you a bit about myself.

In case you're new around here, I'm Elizabeth.

You can read more about me here. But what you really need to know is this:

I've had a lot of things change in my life recently.

In the past year I finished an internship, applied to be a missionary, got a rejection from my internship, got a rejection from the missionary role, ran a marathon, discovered some of my best friends, graduated from college, moved into an apartment by myself, started working at a bakery, applied to jobs, applied to grad school, lost some of my best friendships, quit my bakery job, accepted my invitation to grad school, turned down my invitation to grad school, lost my cat, moved home, and accepted a full time job.

Oh, and as of the day this blog post goes live I'm starting my first full time job and have plans to move 30 hours (and 3 time zones) away from home.

Life is crazy

I'm sure there are tons of people who can relate to the craziness of life. Maybe you have experienced more dramatic change than I have. Or maybe you skipped over my entire paragraph sentence about all the things that I've gone through in the past year thinking that your life is nowhere near as crazy as mine.

Wherever you're coming from, know that I'm with you. I may not know exactly what you're going through right now, but I know what it feels like to experience change.

As you read the rest of this post, I invite you to have an open mind. Trust that even though you are going through your unique situation, there are countless people (including me) going through changes. And we're all in this together.

Defining Change

Some change you want. It is good. You choose it.

Other change is undesirable. It feels wrong or bad. It happens to you.

It's good to understand that there are two types of change. BUT when we apply the strategies that I'm going to share, it really doesn't matter which "type" of change you are experiencing.

In any situation there will be things you can control and things you can't. Which brings me to my first strategy in navigating life changes.

Navigating Life Changes

1. Recognize what you have control over

Of all my strategies, this one is probably the hardest.

As a control-freak, I know how easy it is to grasp at everything and try to get a handle on it. I know from personal experience that it just ends up hurting more when things you thought you could control just slip away.

If instead, you go into a situation knowing what you can control, it is easier to let the uncontrollables just roll off your back.

In most situations, the only thing you can control is you.

You can't control what other people do or how they react to what you do. You can't control rules or regulations.

Even in a change that you chose, there are still many things you have no power over.

For example, I chose to accept a job. But I don't control what apartments are available in my new town. And therefore I don't control when I move.

When you can separate what you can or can't control, you give yourself the freedom to let go of the things that are out of your hands. You can release. And the tension and energy you were using to stress about the uncontrollable can be directed in to something more positive.

That positive might be your habits.

2. Keep your habits strong

Many of you have existing habits. For your own sanity it is crucial to maintain them.

Maybe it's a fitness regimen, a diet plan, or a prayer routine.

Whatever you are currently doing, keep doing it!

This will help you keep a sense of normalcy amidst the change happening around you. It can be extremely comforting to do something familiar while your navigating life changes.

And more than likely, your habits are healthy and will create positive change in your life no matter when you do them.

That said, if your habits are hindering your health it might be time to create new routines.

3. Create new routines

Maybe your change involves a move. Or you find yourself in unfamiliar territory.

One of the best things you can to is start to create a sense of normalcy in  your life. Routines are perfect for this.

When you do the same thing day after day, your body will be able to relax during that time. It recognizes that it is doing something safe and familiar and can therefore exit fight or flight mode.

AND you get the extra bonus of having the opportunity to create positive habits. Change can actually be the perfect occasion for self-improvement.

For example, you can evaluate your current eating habits. Maybe you're not eating the foods that make you feel good. Now's the time to make the switch. (And if you're looking for healthy recipes, I have so many for you to try.)

Don't push yourself too hard at first. But if there's something you know you need to change, now's the time to start fresh.

It's a tricky balance. But the next three strategies can help you keep that balance.

4. Allow time to reminisce

Part of the reason why change is so hard is that it's different. You start doing new things and leave behind old people, places, and activities.

It is OKAY to mourn the past.

And it is GOOD to remember the good times that you've had. These are beautiful memories that you can cherish for as long as you'd like.

It also helps to ease the transition by allowing yourself time to reminisce.

The caveat here is that you don't want to spend too much time in the past. Whether you like it or not you are in a new chapter of life and you need to move forward.

5. Push yourself to move forward

It can be so easy to live in the past. Constantly spending time remembering what you had.

While sometimes that is good (see strategy 4), it isn't healthy to constantly live in the past.

When you start to embrace the change that is happening you will be able to live more fully. This means moving forward.

Recognize that you no longer live in the past. You have a new path ahead of you and the only thing you can do is move forward.

This leads to one of the hardest things to do, whether you're navigating life changes or not.

6. Live in the present moment

We cannot live in either the past or the future. All we have is right now.

There is so much beauty in the present moment.

When you place yourself in the present and commit to being fully aware of what is happening right now you allow yourself to let go of the pain of the past and the worry of the future. You become free.

Free from pain and anxiety. Free to be present to yourself and other people. And, most importantly, free to love.

If you're looking for a deeper dive into freedom, I highly recommend Interior Freedom by Fr. Jacques Philippe. It is such a good read!

Navigating Life Changes

7. Trust in God

I saved this for last because it is the hardest, the most important, and the one I want you to remember.

When things get hard, when unwanted change or the unknown comes, the most powerful thing we can do is trust.

God has a wonderful, glorious plan for each one of us. When we fully believe that, we can start living.

God only allows evil to bring about an even greater good.

If what you're going through feels like an evil, know that He is working for your good.

And friends, the best is yet to come.

Navigating Life Changes

**This post contains affiliate links, for more information see my disclosure here.

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