Are you starting over and facing an unknown future? The task of redefining yourself can be daunting. Where do you even begin?
First, reject the all or nothing mindset that sounds like, “If I don’t know today how I am going to rebuild my life, then I’ll do nothing.”
Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
Consider the following questions to break the task ahead into a manageable framework:
What Do I Have That I Can Keep?
Envision packing for a trip to a place you have never visited. You are excited, but also nervous, as you don’t know what to expect. As you compile a list, note those things you already have that you can put in the suitcase. What’s proven useful in the past during other transitions? (Hint: We all have more than we think.) Some possibilities may include:
• a support network
• spiritual faith
• an optimistic outlook and general positive attitude
• technical skills
What Do I Already Know That I Can Put To Use?
You know more than you may think you do. As a life traveler, you bring a foundation of learning gathered from prior transitions; you have successfully navigated the unknown before. Identify a time when you didn’t have a clear vision of where you were headed—even if the last time was when you left school.
What did you learn about yourself during prior transitions that you can apply in the current context? This is your knowledge base. Which personal strengths can you identify? For example, are you:
- Resilient and optimistic?
- Good at reaching out to others when you need emotional support?
- Able to distinguish between things you can control and those you cannot—and let go of what you can’t?
What behaviors or beliefs surfaced that weren’t helpful to you?
For example, are you prone to rumination (unproductive thought loops) when you get stressed? Being mindful of this, how can you adapt your current behavior? Is it difficult for you to accept help from others even when you really would like it? What can you do to change the message that says in order to be strong you need to go it alone? What have you learned from past relationships that inform how you will move into the next one?
What Do I Need To Acquire?
Understand what you need to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to go. What you need can be a combination of the tangible and the intangible. Tangible items may be a larger support network, technical skills, or training. Intangible items may be personal attitudes, beliefs, and a sense of worthiness and self-confidence.
In becoming clear about what you need to move ahead, you can develop action steps to move you toward your new life.
What do you currently have that will help you in your next life chapter?