For many of us, Labor Day Weekend marks the end of summer and a return to the routines of our lives. Some of us leave for school, while others begin new jobs. We may also be facing a transition in our personal or professional circumstances which is not easy to accept.
Change of any sort requires patience, creative thinking, and if we are lucky, support. This is especially true when we are dealing with major changes in our life. And each of us views “major change” through a different lens. It can be particularly helpful if we allow ourselves to appreciate that change (even “good” change) requires a lot from us and we can learn to cultivate what we need and give ourselves whatever that is; beginning with patience, creative problem solving, and support.
1. Making change is a step-by-step process. If we do too much at one time, we may not know what works, what doesn’t, and what needs refinement. It can be helpful to focus on just one change by dedicating time to that one thing. By committing a few moments each day to a thought about what is required and participating in an activity, we will become more familiar (and perhaps comfortable) with the change. We are “exercising” our change muscle. As we begin to incorporate that activity into our daily life, performing it the same way at the same time in the same place, we can reinforce the change and create a habit
2. Find work or a hobby that benefits others as a way to add meaning to your life and connects you with others in a way that contributes to their well being.
3. It helps to surround ourselves with wise, empathetic, and trustworthy friends with whom we can be honest. These people will hear us with their hearts as well as their minds as we express our concerns and fears about our difficulties in facing change and learning to adapt in the necessary ways.
4. Make ourselves accountable. We can make a formal commitment to change in front of those we care about and whose opinions matter to us. In this way we can encourage ourselves to stand by our word and persevere, keeping track of our progress with those special people.
5. Practice self-compassion. Instead of punishing ourselves when we falter, we can reward ourselves with positive experiences and kindness. In the midst of working on change, we can remember to momentarily pause to take a walk or sip soothing tea before returning to our efforts. Criticizing ourselves impedes our progress and erodes confidence.
6. We can remind ourselves that transition and transformation take time. We can think of change as a lifelong practice to which we devote effort daily.