Are You Starting an Exciting New Chapter in Your Life?
How to embrace big changes, ease your adjustment, and boost your happiness.
Posted Jun 08, 2018
Milestones like graduation, engagement, marriage, a new baby, landing a job, getting a promotion, or moving to a dream location are exciting and happy developments. But these developments can also bring huge transition and change to your life. After all, you’re embarking on a new adventure, whether it’s the next level of your schooling, relationship, marriage, career, or lifestyle. You will confront changes big and small, which will demand that you stretch and grow. Growth is hard, even if you’re looking forward to it!
Here is a map for moving into any new chapter, with tips for finding your way, adjusting with grace, and enjoying the journey.
Embrace growing pains. Yes, even happy change involves lots of stretching and growing, which can be uncomfortable, tiring, and time-consuming. While getting used to your new life, your adjustment includes finding new ways to be true to yourself, figuring out how to what you really want, and feeling comfortable in your new skin. Think of growing pains as part of the adventure. And know that you’re doing great even when you’re feeling sore or exhausted.
Acknowledge what you’re leaving behind. Although you may be focused on all you stand to gain with this new milestone, you likely will also experience some losses. Perhaps you’re moving away from a beloved home and leaving old friends and family. If you’re gaining new responsibilities, you’re giving up certain freedoms. You might have to relinquish some of your possessions, hobbies, or favorite activities. Pinpointing your losses can help you face unexpected feelings of sadness or disappointment. And going with the flow of any grief can ease your adjustment and boost your ability to constructively fill those holes. Remember too: when one door closes, many other doors open. Keep an eye out for those open doors and the possibilities they present!
Expect challenges and struggle. You will be challenged because new chapters—even happy, anticipated ones—require you to get out of your comfort zone, navigate unfamiliar waters, and learn new information and skills. It’s normal to encounter some rough sailing. By expecting to struggle, you won’t worry that something is wrong with you, wonder if you’ve made a big mistake, or doubt you’re up to the task. You’re fine, you’re making progress, and you can do this!
Expect your adjustment to be more demanding than anticipated. Most people underestimate the difficulties involved in entering a new, exciting phase of life. That’s because we tend to underestimate the extent and magnitude of the changes involved. For example, graduation can mean going off to college or entering the workforce, which can feel daunting. If a new milestone also includes moving to a new town or a new company, more will be required of you. The first year of marriage always requires more of the couple than they dreamed possible. Even when carefully planned, pregnancy and new babies are famous for making parents rearrange their lives in ways they’d never imagined nor intended! It’s normal to think, “This is way harder than I thought it would be!” And when you're overwhelmed, you may feel disheartened. Instead, make your journey under promise and over deliver by assuming it’s going to be a super-challenging adjustment. It can also help to remember this: As you settle into your new life, the long-term benefits will far outweigh the temporary hardships of your adjustment period.
Be patient with yourself. Adjustment takes time. Acquiring new knowledge includes repetition. Learning new skills takes practice. You may often feel like you’re in over your head, and you may even fall overboard. More than once! Accept failure as a valuable part of the trial and error process, and a normal aspect of your learning curve. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Grant yourself all the time, practice, and support you need to adjust to your happy new life.