Monday, May 9, 2011

What's Next?

It seems like every time you hit a developmental milestone,you barely get there and people start to ask you,"What's next?" When you graduate from high school,finish college,get married,or have a baby,everyone is curious about what you are planning next.

The question might feel fine, because you've got firm plans for the next steps. Conversely,it might feel like pressure if you don't have it figured out yet.The reality is that most major life passages take us about 3-6 months to adjust to.

It's perfectly ok to take life changes one step at a time.It makes you NORMAL if you graduate from college in this economy and you need to sort out getting a career started,separating from parents,beginning to stand on your own with finances,and shifting from student to adult. When people ask you about your plans,it's ok to say you don't have all the answers yet.(Truth is we never do!)

When you get married, well-meaning friends and family can begin to ask about when you plan to start a family.It's really better to give yourselves time as a couple to adjust to life together before you add the role changes of becoming a parent on top of it.Be sure to prepare your broken record responses for those queries.(Thanks for asking,we'll keep you posted.) While babies are wonderful,they present challenges for couples in terms of staying close,and add a whole new set of stressors.This is another life transition that is better managed without adding in another change concurrently.

It's healthy and adaptive to give yourself a few months to make life transitions.Gather up your support.Identify your strengths. Do extreme self-care. Keep up your exercise and other things that keep your energy level up.Stay in contact with your friends.Give yourself praise for your efforts that lead you forward.Be patient with yourself,as it may take a little to have your next stage of life feel normal.When you get asked what's next,it's quite alright to say,"I'm working on that".Free yourself from unrealistic expectations that you are supposed to make major life transitions instantly,or have all the answers for the next life phase before you live through it.Be sure to pause,breathe, and savor what you are just completing as well.

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