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How to Be Awesome at Transitions

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I hate to break it to you, but just as soon as you get settled into a rhythm in life, something is probably going to change. Life is full of transition points. In fact, in reflecting on the people in my personal life, I know more people currently undergoing life transitions than those who are not. Receiving a promotion at work, first-time parenting, taking care of elderly parents, dealing with divorce, returning to work after maternity leave, sending kids off to college, transitioning from student to full-time employee, getting laid off from work, being diagnosed with a disease or illness, pursuing a dream, marrying for the first time, dating after divorce, retiring, losing of a spouse, winning it big in the lottery.

All of these are major points of change; some positive, some negative. (Alright…I don’t actually know anyone who won the lottery. But if you do, I’d be happy to help you through your tough time of transition.) We don’t always get to pick these life transitions. Some happen to us yet others are more of our making. One thing is for sure: your ability to handle these transitions well can determine a lot about your happiness in life.

Here are a few things that will keep you grounded in the midst of life transitions:

  1. Stay flexible. In my opinion, flexibility is one of the secret keys to success in life. The more you train your mind to be flexible in how you view your role as a human, the easier points of transition will be. You are first and foremost a human. Over the course of your life, you will wear many different hats. Not allowing your identity to be too wed to any one role, and expecting things to ebb and flow over time are both important components to flexibility in transition. The opposite of flexibility in a transition is rigidity. Hunkering down, digging in your heels, fighting the transition. It’s not good for you, and it’s certainly not good for anyone around you. What do you say we skip that part, take a deep breath and just strive to roll with the changing of the roles
  2. Acknowledge the grief/loss. As mentioned above…whatever you transitioned from had a degree of expertise associated with it. You knew what to expect. You were good at that role. And stepping away from that “safe zone” is a loss. Even if it’s a great transition, like adopting a baby or getting engaged, there is still a sense of loss associated with leaving behind the familiar, especially if you were rocking it. It’s totally normal. Don’t feel bad about having a little twinge of sadness about leaving your old role behind. Take some time to reflect and appreciate the things you loved out of the role that you’re leaving before you jump head-long into the new transition. Doing some journaling in terms of chapters and phases is great for this.
  3. Have reasonable expectations. Most transitions tend to mimic learning to drive a manual transmission. Lots of lurching forward, awkward starts and stops. What I would call “spurty.” Whatever role you transitioned from, you probably enjoyed some degree of expertise. You looked and felt like a pro, but this new role feels weird and unfamiliar. Don’t expect to operate at optimum level right off the bat. Cut yourself some slack. You didn’t start off feeling like an expert in your old role either and nobody transitions like a seasoned professional. Just keep your head down, learn the basics, and you’ll find your rhythm soon. You’ll know where to find the best coffee and secret bathrooms before too long.
  4. Keep the lines of communication open. Regularly check in with yourself to assess how things are going. Then, schedule a meeting for a few months out to check in with someone else. Who you need to have that conversation with depends entirely on your new role. It may be a boss, your spouse, your parent, your doctor or your counselor. This type of check-in proves invaluable when it comes to feeling successful in mastering your new role…and helping you seem like you “give a rip.”
  5. Find a Yoda. You’re going to need someone with the inside scoop that has been in this role for a while. Find a Yoda who is further down the road than you are and just watch. You’ll learn tons! If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to ask questions. Most importantly…say “yes” to Yoda. Lunch? Yes. Special event? Yes. Seemingly inconsequential errand? Yes. Yoda will help you become strong in the force…I mean, get established in your new role.

While life transitions are inevitable, your ability to transition well is largely a choice and a skill set. Learning to roll with the punches can really determine your happiness in life. Whether good or bad, changes can throw you off your game for a bit. Transitioning well means less anxiety, frustration, depression, irritability, and isolation. You owe it to yourself and those around you to learn the skills of transitioning well.

Any time you need to process any of these types of life changes, give me a call!

Springing Into The New Season

Hooray! Yesterday was the first day of spring! I know that title is cheesy but spring has sprung and I can’t help myself!! Here at Spring Life Counseling, LLC we love springtime. After all…it’s on our name!

Spring is so naturally encouraging and energizing. For me, this season has a way of bringing back to mind positive memories of good times. It feels like wide open spaces and fresh breezes. Everything is transitioning from being cooped up and tucked away to being out in the open and coming back to life.

So many lessons live in the regularity of the seasons. Grace. Forgiveness. Moving on. Starting afresh. Without fail, spring always follows winter. Before you know it, you forget what it was like in the cold. What held you inside in the wintertime is no longer a factor. You can enjoy fresh air, fresh locations, fresh routines and fresh color. The restraints of winter have been cast off and the possibilities for springtime feel limitless!

With the spirit of spring in mind, take the time today to do a little personal inventory. I’d recommend you write out your responses to these questions (and whatever else comes up in the vein) so that you can keep good track of your process and have more clarity about where you’re heading. I find journaling to be really helpful to this end.

  • Was there anything you felt committed to during winter that you’ve slacked up on lately? (I.e., New Years Resolutions)
  • Is there anything you need to let go of that you brought with you from he winter?
    • People experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder get to naturally transition out of the dark at this time!
    • Do you have any relational bad habits that you picked up when everyone was stuck together all winter?
  • What changes would you like to see relationally in this next season of life?
    • Is there someone you’d like to get to know more deeply?
    • Is there anyone you need to take a step back from?
  • What new routines would you like to put into place? This holistically: physically, mentally, socially, financially, spiritually, etc.
  • What do you want to be able to do during the summer that you can’t do today?

My sincere hope for you is that this season blows you away with all the amazing things in store for you and yours!

Spring is also a great time to engage in the counseling process in order to weed out negative things in your life. If you’d like more information about the counseling process, click here.

How To Give A Rip: Part 4

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Today is the last installment of our “How to Give a Rip” series.  We’ve looked at why it’s important for your character, how it can positively impact your personal and professional life, and how to guide yourself towards feeling more interested. Finally we will look at how dealing with one task at a time is the final trick in accomplishing your goal.

If you’re just now joining us, check out Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this conversation.

Figure out a way to give a rip about whatever is in front of you.

…about whatever is in front of you.

For several years now, multi-tasking has been championed as what busy people do to accomplish a lot of productive things at once. In truth, the research indicates the opposite: that multi-tasking is counter productive and causes tasks to take longer, be less efficient, or see a dip in quality. The vast majority are truly built to be “one thing at a time” people. Yet there is still this cultural draw to boast about being a “good multi-tasker” mostly because it makes you look really busy and important.

Multi-tasking can also be so appealing when you’re trying to just “get by” with your interest level. You can look like you’re invested but still distract yourself with what you’d rather be doing. You’re at your kids soccer game, but you’re returning phone calls. You asked your wife how her day was, but you’re listening while checking Facebook. (Hey-O! I guarantee I just stepped on somebody’s toes! Call me!) You seem to be doing the “right” thing but you’re not really invested…you’re not really giving a rip.

Divided attention can really shoot you in the foot. Intentionally give yourself fully to the task in front of you at school, at work, at home, at church, at the ballpark.

Jim Elliot puts it this way, “Wherever you are, be all there.”

In the course of any given day, we all play multiple roles. Fight the urge to bring the task from this morning into the afternoon. Don’t cook dinner thinking about your conversation with your coworker. Don’t give a sit through the sermon at church thinking about the fight you had with your sister. The mental energy it takes to focus on two or more roles at once really removes you from the moment and you lose the potency that is possible by being fully present.

When you invest yourself fully in the relationship or task before you, a part of your character grows that you’ll notice immediately, and so will others around you. And that’s what learning how to “give a rip” is really all about: growing your own character so you can be the best “you” in all roles of life.

For more information about the counseling or coaching services at Spring Life Counseling, LLC or to schedule an appointment at our Baton Rouge, Denham Springs or Walker, Louisiana locations, shoot me an email.

How to Give A Rip: Part 3

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This week we’ve been discussing the whys and how’s of learning to give a rip in the difficult areas of life.

Figure out a way to give a rip about whatever is in front of you.

Today we will look at what genuine interest looks like, even in difficult situations. Yesterday we looked at how you can “figure out a way” to lead yourself to the attitude that you’d like to have. Let’s continue on with the second part of the perspective shift that could bring positive impact across all areas of your life.

…to give a rip…

In order to be a good spouse, parent, employee, friend, etc. you have to be as interested in the task or topic as the person you’re dealing with. Think about it: if your child is really interested in soccer but you could not care less, there’s no way that won’t come across to your child on some level. You’ll either foster resentment and isolation in your child, or you’ll see their interest level fizzle out. And that goes to all roles in your life. Your interest or “ability to give a rip” directly impacts your relationships with others.

People can sense feigned interest and it causes the loss of life-giving and energizing excitement. In marriage this comes across as lack of respect, dismissal, or conditional love and support. In work this reads like lack of commitment to the company.

Love who and what your spouse loves, (obviously this doesn’t apply if your spouse is in an unhealthy place such as addiction) and they will feel understood and supported.

Get excited about what your boss is excited about, and you’ll enjoy your work environment more, and possibly even experience advancement in your career.

Care about what your child cares about, and you’ll see that thing flourish within them.

In your friendships, if you pay attention and follow up about what is on the heart and mind of your friend, you’ll develop the kinds of bonds that last a lifetime.

Don’t let the most important relationships in your life be impacted because you can’t figure out a way to give a rip about what matters to them most. You’ll enjoy the strengthened connection between you when you make what is important to them, important to you!

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this series if you’re just now joining us!

And find out more information about our counseling services here.

How To Give A Rip: Part 2

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Yesterday we looked at one small step that can bring about big change in all roles of your life and WHY it is important to take that step.

Today we will begin to unpack HOW you can bring about this change in your life by looking at the first part of this statement:

Figure out a way to give a rip about whatever is in front of you.

Figure out a way…

More often than not, this process of “learning to give a rip” has to start with “figuring out a way” because you’re just genuinely not interested in whatever it is you’re facing. You’re not interested in your math homework…your TPS report…your husband’s March Madness bracket…your kid’s tuba practice…whatever. It takes a degree of intellectual creativity to re-work the challenge in front of you until you can find a way to get interested in it.

  • Look at the issue through a different light than usual.
  • Put your frustrations to the side for a moment.
  • Think of someone who is truly interested in the issue.
  • What do you think they like about it?
  • Maybe there’s something in it that you can use to increase your interest.

Like all things of value, setting your intentions in a new direction requires some work. You’ve got to “steer the ship” to the place you want it to go. Negative thoughts about the effort that is required, about whatever else you’d rather be doing, or about how lame something is will pop in your head and offer you an enticing distraction to move on to something you’re more comfortable with. Show those thoughts whose boss and redirect them to where you truly want them to go. It takes time and intentionality. You won’t see a big change over night. But if you stick with it and develop a true interest, the rewards are worth it and will go beyond what you can see on the surface.

Tomorrow we will continue to discuss the HOW component of “giving a rip.”

If this discussion has been helpful to you, please feel free to pass this article along to someone who may also find it interesting.

If you have any questions about the counseling process, feel free to read our FAQs or contact me here.

How To Give A Rip: Part 1

Very rarely is there one thing that can change that really benefits you across every aspect of your life. Most small shifts in thinking or perspective work at home but fall short at work, or vice versa. But over the next few days, we will discuss one tip that can truly add value and usher in successful outcomes in every role you play, be it spouse, parent, employee, boss, student, friend, adult child, etc. I’m not much for the idea of “one and done life hacks to revolutionize your life,” but when it comes to this tip, it truly can change things at a foundational level that can impact your life across the board.

Here it is: Figure out a way to give a rip about whatever is in front of you.

If you want to be awesome at whatever is in front of you, you must figure out a way to give a rip about it.

The first time I ever thought about this concept was in high school. Our principal, Mr. Grimmer, stuck his head into our geometry class and gave an impromptu speech to the effect of, “Here’s the truth: unless you go into the advanced math field as a career, you’ll truly never use geometry except for when you’re figuring out how much paint or carpet to buy. But that’s not the point. You’ve gotta figure out a way to take on this challenge and do a good job in this class anyway because making a good grade in here will unlock the next door to the future.”

I recalled that lesson a few years later, sitting in an undergraduate classroom, not at all caring about one of my gen ed requirements. My disinterest in Western Civilizations was standing in the way of me moving on to classes I would be more interested in, namely, my major classes in organizational communications. I had to figure out a way to get interested so that I could move on to things that would be more fulfilling for me and that seemed as though they would actually apply to my life.

Flash forward a few years later after graduate school, in the midst of the very common yet awkward transition from full-time student to full-time employee, I found myself stuck in the monotony of a specific task that my boss wanted me to accomplish but I felt had little value to my actual responsibilities. I remembered that truth again: you’ve gotta find a way to get interested in this, because there’s value in being a good employee. Indeed, there is value because it can mean an increase in job security, but there is also intrinsic value in the character it takes to be a good employee.

In my current phase of life, there are times when my husband is passionate about things that I wouldn’t naturally be interested in. And while I do fully support the idea of spouses having some individual hobbies that they can do by themselves or with friends, when it comes to passions, I think it’s important to figure out a way to become interested so you can be more supportive. So yes, I am now more versed in abstract art and the local artist community than I would have ever expected myself to be and at this point, I can honestly say I really enjoy it.

So what about you? What do you need to get interested in so that you can become a better friend, partner, parent, employee, volunteer, etc.? What’s standing in your way between here and where you’d like to be? Could a shift in attitude help unlock that door?

Join me over the next few days as we unpack the question of “HOW” to figure out a way to give a rip about whatever is in front of you. I fully believe that there are better days ahead than anything we’ve left behind. Let’s figure out how to get there together!

And, as always, if any of this brings up anything you’d like to discuss in a counseling or coaching session, you can reach me here. Offices in Baton Rouge, Denham Springs and Walker, Louisiana.

Connecting: When is it Too Much of a Good Thing?

Last week we discussed the three different types of relationships that healthy people have: a relationship with God, with themselves, and with others. This week we will look further into relationships with others and how finding the right balance in connection with others can sometimes get a little tricky.

Think of connecting with others (friends, significant others, family members, co-workers, etc.) as a continuum. On one end is the idea of isolation, where one doesn’t experience much meaningful interaction with anyone. On the other end is the idea of being over-connected with someone, where one doesn’t experience much difference between where you start and another begins. Like most things in life, health would be somewhere in the middle of that continuum: not isolated yet not overly connected to the point of losing your sense of self.

A Swedish Proverb reads: Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.

But have you ever had someone in your life that feels more like the opposite of that proverb? Half the joy and twice the grief? That type of relationship is what we’ll be talking about today.

Sometimes in relationships there comes a sense of being “too close” where the boundaries get blurry and you feel responsible for someone else’s behavior, well-being and outcomes. This type of relationship can be with an adult child, a friend, a coworker, a parent, a sibling…with anyone really. If there is anyone in your life who you regularly experience anxiety over, you may be a little over-connected with that person. These types of relationship can feel simultaneously life-giving and suffocating. A person in this over-connected state would experience extremes of euphoria, purpose and joy when you’re connected, followed by anxiety, frustration, irritability or even anger.

Here are some signs of an over-connected relationship:

  • Sharing a roller coaster: what happens to them feels like it happens to you as well
  • Frequently talking about expectations for the relationship
  • Feeling the need to have a “define the relationship” conversation
  • A sense of responsibility for the other person’s happiness, wellbeing and choices
  • Experiencing anxiety about the consequences the other may face and possibly intervening so that he/she won’t have to face them
  • Overanalyzing what was said and reading into what was “meant” by this or that
  • Giving (money, gifts, efforts, or otherwise) to a point that outsiders would feel uncomfortable about it
  • Image maintenance: feeling like you have to minimize, defend or explain your friendship to other people
  • “We” talk: Speaking on another’s behalf or as a unit (exceptions: your spouse or when your kids are little)
  • Jealousy when other people get attention or discounting the other person’s connection with others outside your duo
  • A general sense of anxiety or unrest unless you’re getting the person’s undivided attention
  • Feeling depressed when the other person is not around
  • If you’re obsessing about the friendship at the detriment of other things in your life
  • If you feel more concerned about their life than your own

The goal would be to have one or a few significant people (some might call these people “best friends”) in your life where you feel comfortable being yourself, get a sense of a reciprocal friendship with trust, love and support, where you can speak the truth and hear the truth about your life, where you feel respected to be yourself and to make your own decisions.

Relationships with others are some of the best thing about life! They can bring joy, acceptance, laughter, support, a sounding board, hospitality, and much more. To feel known and loved is one of life’s greatest blessings! I sincerely hope you get to experience relationships with others as one of the deepest joys in your life.

If you want to talk further about how to remove unhealthy aspects of relationships out of your life (be it codependency, enabling, or something else), please feel free to reach out to me here. I’d love to coach you through this process! It’s truly one of my favorite topics because so much freedom can come by addressing this area of life.