Life is full of transitional stages...graduation, marriage, new career, motherhood, a new move, kids going into school for the first time, kids graduating, divorce or being widowed, aging and empty nest are just a few that you may be currently experiencing or have faced at one point or another in your life.
Many of these life changes can be difficult to maneuver through with joy. I can check many off that list that I've experienced so far in my life and I can honestly say I didn't always deal with them with grace....BECAUSE CHANGE CAN BE HARD!
I was reminded again during my most recent life change, empty nest, that changes can be stressful...let's not kid ourselves, life is stressful and how we deal with stress ultimately determines how much joy we have in our lives.
Stress doesn't necessarily have to be a negative thing though. Wouldn't you agree that without stress you'd probably be less determined to accomplish your dreams and goals in life? It's those stressors that move us to change the current situation or "transitional stage" we are in and how we feel about it.
I recently learned that there are two types of stresses...eustress and distress. Eustress is the type of stress that usually creates a positive outcome like the stress you feel buying a house or the stress that comes with learning something new. The outcome of these two examples is a positive one...a new house and a new hobby or career.
Distress causes a negative outcome and usually is brought on by not being prepared and comes from things we can't control such a death. Negative thought patterns such as worrying and being fearful of things we can't control can most definitely be distressful as well. The outcome is most often anxiety and depression.
So how do we deal with both so that we can find joy (being present, being purposeful, being grateful and finding peace in our life) during the transition we're each facing right now?
Just being aware of the two types of stresses in our lives and their outcomes, will help us to not react but be more thoughtful to the different stress that comes along due to this new phase in life. If we think of the situation we're in as a eustress (positive stress, one that will bring a good outcome) not a distress (negative stress, negative outcome), we can use this new phase in life as motivator to move us to take action to find joy in this new stage in life. And know that distress can be turned into eustress if we make a positive change in our thinking and actions.
I completely understand this isn't an easy task and it usually doesn't happen overnight, at least for me it didn't. I created the Love What's Next Project to bring eustress (positive stress to gain a positive outcome) into the lives of women going through a transitional stage in life so they can discover what's next and figure out how to love this new phase they're in. Through simple, daily challenges (eustress, positive stress) participants design and create a life they love!
What our Love What's Next Project participants are saying and how they've take the stresses in their transitions and turned them into positive outcomes ...
"Had two great interviews! I’m grateful for my new opportunity, increased income and feeling validated yesterday by being considered for two jobs." -Jennifer LWNP participant
"Here’s my spontaneous “redefine normal” favorite moment so far. I was walking out of Target today when this gentleman asked if I could buy him lunch. I asked him if I could join him. We had a pretty amazing conversation about life and choices and belief systems. " -Carrie LWNP participant
"So I finally got a run in! My goal was a mile and I made it 1.25 Miles. Woohoo!"- Rauna LWNP participant
When my youngest was gearing up and excited to leave for Gonzaga University at the end of his senior year of high school, I was secreting "dying" inside. My heart was breaking, in fact I'm holding back tears right now thinking about it. I understand not all moms go through this but it was a very sad time for me. I was so sad when each of my three kids left for college but with the older two, I always knew I had at least one more at home to care and tend to.
My kids have always been my most important purpose in life and I think many of my friends would say the same thing, so when they all left, I felt like they took my purpose with them.
I share this because I know some of you are experiencing these feelings right now as your own babies are getting ready to leave too.
It's a feeling that is indescribable! Am I right?! You don't want them to stay but you don't want them to go either. There's a huge sense of loss but at the same time you're excited for them to spread their wings. You worry about them making the right choices even though you know in your heart they're ready to make them on their own.
You still want to be needed. You wonder what will I do once they're gone?
I'm not sure you ever get use to them being gone but you do find a new normal. I'm here to tell you it does get easier with time and once you find a "new purpose", understanding they will always be your number one purpose, life begins to look a lot brighter. And once you're ready, you can begin to write your next chapter and you can write it however YOU WANT!!
Because I've been where you are and I went through years of learning how to find joy with an empty nest, I can lead you on the most amazing journey of discovery to find "what's next" for YOU!
In 13 short weeks (it took me 4 years) you will begin to rediscover yourself again without kids and experience all that life has to offer. It's AMAZING where this journey will take you. I've never had so much joy..EVERY SINGLE DAY!
Our next start date for the Love What's Next Project is September 9th. Perfect timing for you to jump start this new chapter in your life as your babies are leaving to begin their new, exciting adventure!!
I so wish I had this Project when I was facing what you are today! I PROMISE YOU that I can show you how to find more joy in this new transition in life.
Nicole Cavey is the Chief Pursuit Officer of Love What's Next. Through her personal journey to uncover what was next for her, she discovered that you can love where you are no matter what stage in life you are in... as long as you know how. Her mission is to show YOU how!