I wish I could freeze time right now. Just hold on to this sacred space a bit longer.
My kids are almost all out on their own. I am the only “official man” in their lives right now. In the next five to 10 years (G-d willing), my nuclear family will change. With that change comes a ripple effect of friendships, emotions, community, etc., and the realization that the methods we employ to navigate change in our lives are important.
How have you done with change in your life? Do you enthusiastically embrace it, try to deny it or stubbornly resist it?
We are most often directed to think about the next phase as the mile marker. Many we can anticipate, and some are unimaginable.
With the knowledge that change is the only constant in life, have you ever considered redirecting your focus to that profound transition between the stepping stones, the liminal space? A liminal space is the time between the “what was” and the “next.” It is the place of waiting, and not knowing.
It is the threshold of a new chapter with varying degrees of disruption to the status quo. Think: new diagnosis, relocation, birth of a grandchild.
The great unknown can be downright terrifying. But what if you took the time to prepare mentally now for these transitions?
Here are a few helpful tips:
Focus on today and now. If life changes and it’s imperative to regroup, resist dwelling on the past, which is counterproductive. There is no point in seeking a responsible party for what you may be facing now. No one is really interested in hearing about how it was done in the old days if it means you are complaining while resisting change.
Calculate risk: Examine the tradeoff between risk and reward. If this is a decision made by more than one person, it may be best to err on the side of the most conservative, least risky option.
Don’t give away your power: It is inevitable that as we become more dependent on care from adult children that a role reversal may develop. Stand your ground with demands on your time, unexpected requests for financial assistance, etc. It is not selfish if you think, “I already raised my children. I did not sign up for this.”
Life lessons: Reflecting on mistakes of the past are helpful if you regard them as life lessons. If you reflect back and make that same mistake again, look into patterns that fall into self-sabotage and uncover your motive.
Don’t give up: Persistence is key in all phases of life. Growth is impossible without a few small setbacks. Whether it’s a new position you are seeking or romance round 2, remember don’t give up and sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your Prince Charming.
Don’t keep score: The world owes us nothing. Life is not fair and don’t try to figure out how to balance the scales.
Sports provide a great analogy for adapting to change. Focus on the strength of your transition game. What keeps you mentally strong? What takes you from the back court to the net? From defense to offense? It is life-changing to recognize the potential of “in-between places.” Don’t flee from the cloud of the unknown or stand paralyzed.
Embrace the change: And for all you baby boomers and fans of British rock, in the very wise words of the late, great David Bowie:
Turn and face the strange
Bob Roth is managing partner of Cypress HomeCare Solutions.