Managing big life changes
You’ve probably heard the saying ‘change is as good as a holiday’. And sure, in some situations, altering your circumstances can be refreshing. But not all major life changes make you feel immediately clear, secure, and ready to take on the world. When everything you know is turned upside down, moving forward successfully is not a quick snap – it’s a transitional process.
Navigating through the darkness before the dawn is tough. Conversely, many people struggle with sudden good fortune. The good news is, countless people like you have been there before. They’ve struggled with decisions and made mistakes so that you don’t have to.
The most stressful life (and financial) events
According to the Holmes Rahe Stress Scalei, the biggest life events you may have to overcome include:
- Buying a home
- Involuntary unemployment
- Divorce or separation
- Estate planning
- Pregnancy or gaining a new family member
- Major changes to business
How to deal with sudden changes
So what do all these life events have in common? Basically, they induce psychological states where you’re more likely to be emotional and reactive than logical and rational. This can lead to poor outcomes which only fulfil your short term needs, or worse, cause further detriment to all involved.
There’s only one way to remove yourself from that reactive state – mindfulness. Mindfulness means being self-aware, having the ability to see your situation from an outsider’s perspective, and thinking before you act. Here’s how you get there:
- Get a mentor. A friend, family member or amenable acquaintance who has been through what you’re going through. They’ll be able to give you a fresh perspective and (evidence-based) hope for the future.
- Take it one day at a time. And if you don’t think you can get through a day, try a shorter time period. As a wise TV comedienne recently said, “You can stand anything for 10 seconds. Then you just start on a new 10 seconds.”
- In a similar vein, concentrating on small tasks, one at a time, can help make a seemingly impossible task seem much more manageable. For example, take income insecurity. You may be feeling anxious because you don’t know how to pay for all of the expenses you currently have. But listing your expenses in priority order can help clarify just how little you have to spend to get by.
- It’s a good idea to have scheduled ‘down time’ while you’re going through a major change. Whether it’s meditation, exercise, a massage, shopping, or a good old snooze, mark it in your diary – and don’t let anyone cross it out. This can help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed at other times – such as when you’re making an important financial decision.
- Take action. Putting off work involved with a major life change just means the stress snowballs. Even taking a small step can help take the pressure off. For example, if you’re feeling a bit restless about being retired, enquire about a volunteering position. You don’t have to make a commitment, but you’ve opened yourself up to the possibility of contributing your skills to a cause.
- Ask yourself how much of your situation you can really control. Try to be objective – pretending you’re giving advice to a loved one can help. Letting go of what you can’t control allows you to spend mental energy on what really matters.
Hindsight is 20/20 – when to reassess after change
After you’ve made it through to the other side of a major life event, it’s important to reassess your financial situation. You may think that you’ve dealt with all the financial implications. But doing a review of your finances can still yield benefits…
If you’ve recently been through a big change, get in touch with us to help reassess and plan for a prosperous future.
i https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmes_and_Rahe_ stress_scale