What’s Next? How to Embrace Life Transitions with Courage and Curiosity
There’s so much possibility in that question, and for many of us, some anxiety. It can be uncomfortable to be in a transition space. Whether your pivot point looks like what to do after college graduation or when your kids leave home or when you want to switch careers, retire or get laid off, you need to make decisions and be ready for change.
I recently completed a year-long program at Stanford. I met so many interesting people and explored new ideas and also got to go more deeply into previous interests. Now, I’m wondering what the heck is next?
Do I go back to teaching storytelling? Do I continue coaching around wayfinding and purpose? Do I find a new path into intergenerational work?
I’m not sure. It’s okay not to know yet, but I’d like to know. I’d like to start on the next thing.
Don’t Rush into Decisions — Stay Curious
I have the luxury to not decide right away. I understand the privilege that lets me put off what’s next until after my son’s wedding, after our cross country drive to a place that has been one of my heart’s homes for so long. After all that I’ll take some time to look at my options and make a decision.
Sometimes it is necessary to make a quick decision, but sometimes we rush a decision because being in the unknown is uncomfortable. If you can focus on possibility instead of uncertainty, if you can stay curious, you may make a very different choice, one drawn from your true desires and values.
Tools to Tap into During Transitions
Whether you need to make a quick decision or can process options more slowly, you can use the same tools.
- Stay curious. Notice if you are shutting doors. Sometimes we do that because we have too many choices and we want to narrow them down, but sometimes we let our inner critic or outside voices get in the way, “That’s so impractical.” ”How are you going to make that work? Or “This is not for me.”
Try asking, What if questions. Could you explore an option more before making a decision? I’m going to do some volunteer work that I’m excited about that could give more insight into an option I might pursue further. I’m staying curious.
- Listen to your inner sage. We all have an inner sage or inner coach, but too often we listen to our inner critic instead. Tune out outside voices and noise. Get quiet. Get outside or in a comfortable place. Take some deep breaths. Ask a question: What do I need to know right now? Or start with a prompt like: I know you’re worried right now, but remember … Stay still and feel that question or idea. Then journal your response.
While this may not give you the answer, you start to tune into your inner sage. You may realize things you hadn’t considered or acknowledged. Maybe you get a message like: The opportunity in Japan sounds amazing, and I’m scared to move. I was really tense after that interview … and not just interview anxiety; I don’t think it’s a good fit. Maybe you get something broader, like trust your gut.
- Reconnect with your values. If you haven’t reconnected with your values in a while, do that now. Our values are our compass when things are going smoothly and in times of change. What happens if you filter your options through your values? Does that bring any clarity?
Act with Courage
It’s easy to get caught in indecision. What’s the “right” answer? What if I choose wrong? I can perseverate for a long time. Using my tools helps me act courageously.
Sometimes we need to act, even when we aren’t sure. (Can we ever be sure?) The good news is even if we make the “wrong” decision, we can learn from it. We have new information to move forward. We may have a new understanding of ourselves or have made new connections or discovered new options.
What courageous step will you take?
3 Steps to Having a Meaningful Life You Love
Enter your details below and we'll send your free guide right over.
Hi, I’m Melanie!
I’m a Journaling and Joy Coach and I believe your story is the key to the life you want.
I guide my clients through intentional processes to find the answers waiting for you in your stories, bringing compassion, deep listening — and fun — to the process.
Want to learn more? Enter your info here to get my weekly blog post and journalling prompts sent right to your inbox.