Your plans for the future are really a story that you tell yourself. Some of the chapters are easy to imagine and plan, but others aren’t so straight forward. We’ve put together some ways to manage unexpected plot twists.
Life has a way of throwing unexpected plot twists at you, such as, say, a global pandemic that upends how you live and work. If you feel like your story has lost some of its most important plot threads, use this three-step method to find a new happy ending.
1. Accept that it's out of your control.
An unexpected job loss. The death of a loved one. Losing your home in a fire. A major illness. Life is never the same after you experience these kinds of unexpected transitions. Your lifestyle might change. Your relationships might change. Your daily routine might change. And your long-term personal, professional, and financial goals might have to change as well.
Letting in feelings like sadness, embarrassment, and fear can be very challenging. If you're having trouble expressing yourself to your spouse or another confidant, try journaling. Getting your thoughts and emotions down on paper can help open you up for the conversations you're going to need to have as you navigate through this new transition.
2. Edit your path, one step at a time.
Now that you've accepted this change in your life, you need to figure out how you're going to adapt to it. Big transitions often feel so overwhelming that they can be paralyzing.
Where do you start?
Start with today.
Break the new transition down into smaller parts. What is one thing on your list that you can accomplish today and that you can build on tomorrow? If your doctor says you have to start eating better, make a new shopping list. Need to exercise more? Buy a pair of running shoes. Brush up your resume so you can start a job hunt. Register for an online class that will help you make a career change. If it’s time to tighten the family belt, cancel that streaming subscription you never use.
Racking up smaller daily wins will make this new transition feel a little more manageable every single day. You might also create some new habits that will make you healthier, happier, and more productive.
3. Rewrite your tomorrow.
In the moment, unexpected transitions can feel like an end. But as you gain personal momentum from your new routine, you'll start to see that there are opportunities ahead of you as well. And when you finally close this chapter, you can start writing a new one.
Some of the details in this revised chapter might be a little different than you imagined before. But not all change is bad. Maybe, instead of retiring to that beachfront condo, you remodel the family home and have your grandkids over more often. If you have to hang up your tennis racket, taking long walks with your spouse could be a new way to exercise, unwind, and spend time together. Now that one phase of your career is over, it might be time to promote yourself to CEO of your own company.
Are you living your life in a way that brings you joy and meaning?
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