September marks the beginning a new school year and maybe a lot of other new things too. Maybe you live in a different house than you did last year, maybe your parents got divorced or separated, maybe your best friend moved away or someone close to you has died. Change and transitions are crazy difficult to handle. So let’s talk about them. What can you do when you have to deal with things in your life being different from the way you want them to be?
Here are five tips to get you started:
1. Accept the change. The most surefire way to make a big change more difficult for yourself is to fight it. Although having a hard time letting go is a natural reaction, a desire to live in the past will only cause more pain and prolong the adjustment period. Instead of dwelling on what you’re leaving behind – a school, a six-month relationship, a unified family – focus on getting through the change and creating a positive future. In order to do that successfully, you must first accept the reality that your life will no longer be the same.
2. Find time for reflection. Whether it’s journaling, meditation, taking long walks on your own, or talking to a therapist or other trusted adult, periods of change are when it’s most important to stop and look at how you’re feeling about everything. Self-reflection can help you identify your main sources of challenge and worry, and to see other sides of the situation. Taking time for reflection will also help you to act with care and with intention as you take your next steps.
3. Take it one day at a time. When you start feeling overwhelmed about all the changes that are taking place, remember to take things one step and one day at a time. Set small, attainable goals for the future and try not to get wrapped up in speculations or anxieties about where your future is headed. Learning to live in the now – not in your nostalgia for the past or worry about the future – will make any challenges seem more manageable. If it helps, create a timeline and write down your goals and plans, both long-term or short-term.
4. Find a mentor. Talking to an older friend or relative who’s successfully made the transition to new school life, moved to a new city or country, or gotten through their parents’ divorce can make a huge difference in helping you feel equipped to handle the change. Take the time to meet for coffee, lunch or a long-distance Skype date to hear their story and ask for advice on conquering your own big change.
5. Learn to be an optimist. Overcoming negative thoughts patterns and cultivating a positive outlook will shift your mindset so that you learn to see opportunities for growth where previously there were only roadblocks. Every cloud has a silver lining and every big change has something beneficial to bring to your life.
As hard as big changes are, they do not have to define you or your future. What can you do today to help yourself get through this time of transition?