Hello everybody, welcome to episode 50 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast with life QnA's. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino.
Nice to have you here as always. We’re gonna answer a question today about transition periods; transition periods and how they always seem to leave everything hanging in the balance, especially the longer they go on. We’ll talk about why they can feel strange and what to do to move on from them into more permanent, stable phases of life. Enough blabbering from me though. Let’s hear this wonderful question…
QUESTION: “Why am I not settled on what I want? I’m in the middle of a big transition in life, except I don’t know what I’m transitioning into. I’m currently single, between jobs and don’t have real ties to anywhere. I have friends in different places, and there are many things my friends do that interest me, but it feels difficult to choose what’s really for me. Lately, I’ll feel upset and directionless in one moment, and then when something new comes into the picture, I’ll feel full of life and trusting in my path. This cycle continues and it’s very hard for me to stay enthusiastic about anything for an extended period of time. What is your advice for sticking to one thing?”
New Beginnings During a Transition
All right, there we have it. That is a weird place to be in, isn’t it? There’s something about new beginnings or transition periods: it’s easy to feel sorta caught between two places.
You don’t really have a past or a future, right? Your experiences from the past are only so relevant to this new venture, so there’s not a whole lot of points of comparison. But you also don’t quite know where you’re going yet or how to envision the future — so it’s this odd sense of suspension. That’s how I often see transition periods anyway, but what do I know?
Not Knowing What You're Transitioning Into
You initially asked why you’re not settled in what you want. And you’re not settled in what you want because you haven’t committed to anything yet; you haven’t chosen to believe in anything in particular. And until that changes, you’re going to keep feeling this way.
Here’s what’s happening: when people are transitioning, but they’re not sure what they’re transitioning INTO (as you so accurately summed it up, by the way) there is no certainty in life. And while this can be fun for a while, eventually the fun that comes with that spontaneity is going to need to get balanced with a sense of control – which I can imagine is right where you are by now since this feelings have gotten strong enough that you’ve decided to reach out and ask this question.
The world is running you, you’re not running IT, and anyone who’s not in the middle of getting their degree at a liberal arts college knows that this free flowing lifestyle can only be sustained up to a certain point. Mind you, I got MY degree at a liberal arts college.
Consider Your Own Path
Look, it seems to me that you’re latching onto others and their decisions rather than making any for yourself and that won’t do. Now, who knows why you’re doing this? Maybe codependence is something you’ve struggled with. Maybe you’ve got the old FOMO that’s going around. Or maybe you’re just someone who appreciates relationships and wants to do what loved ones are doing no matter what it is. I get like that myself. You should do some self-work or talk to a therapist to get to the bottom of what’s driving this behavior.
Meanwhile, just know the yearning for independence and the subconscious recognition of its importance will always be there. You’ll always associate yourself as your own person, and that means considering your own path separate of those around you. This means that as all of these interests dangle themselves in front of you, and the more detached you feel from your own identity, the more you’ll latch onto all these interests and scout each of them as potential suitors for the rest of your life.
“Oh, here’s this thing. It’s fun. Maybe I can base my future around this. Maybe this is what I need to get to the next step.”
That’s you right now. That’s my impression of you. And it’s all good. It’s a phase. But it sounds like there are a lot of fun things in your life, a lot of things to try on for size.
When are you going to stick to one? It’s time to make some decisions and prepare for the consequences — namely the fact that you’ll inevitably feel regret at one point or another.
Keep in mind that personality development and personal growth are related to life transitions. This growth has an impact on your transition satisfaction and well-being.
And how do you make those decisions? Well you just do it. You act, and you stop waiting for motivation to do so.
You can act smart, however. And let’s talk about how you can act smart. See, you’re in a good position right now, because at least you have a lot of different interests that pop up and therefore a lot of potential good commitments. Yes, all these options might feel like a curse — as having a lot of options often does — but there’s no way around not sacrificing some things in order to make progress. There’s just not. That’s a card we’ve all been dealt and we all have to play it.
So let’s interrogate all these good options you have and put a new spin on them to see which could actually teach you about carving out a future that’s yours. Sure, we know they’re all fun in small doses. But each of these times that you feel, “This could be what my next move is all about,” ask yourself the following questions:
- “Is this just good for right now, or is it good for me long term / is this something worthy of making my legacy about?”
- “Am I fully comfortable here, expressing the truest version of myself?”
- “How much time do I spend fantasizing about other things while I’m here?”
Questions like these help to separate short term fun from long term purpose, and that’s what you need to get to the bottom of if you’re having a hard time identifying what’s real between all the little jolts of hope. The goal really is to act fast, but still act in a way that reflects your values. And questions like these or the self-work required to hone in on what your values are is not really a process that requires motivation as much as it does some quick analysis and honesty with yourself.
Bundle Your Interests
Now, this isn’t to say that you can’t have your cake and eat SOME of it, too. There are always ways to arrange your life in such a way that enables you to keep as many of your interests as possible while still being committed to a routine and calling the shots yourself.
Take some time to think about how you can bundle your interests. You talked about different groups of friends specifically. Things can get bundled really easily by conjoining some groups, maybe living in a place that’s closest to the most groups, working remotely, whatever. The key is for these decisions to be made as supplements, though; they shouldn’t really be driving the bus, because then you’re constantly chasing as you are right now.
Get serious about what makes the most sense for you based on your values, accept the inevitable sacrifice, and THEN do what you can to minimize the sacrifice.
How you cope with life transitions will determine how you feel throughout the process. It also involves letting go of old values or beliefs to commit to new ones. Coping skills include stress management and finding social support through various networks to help you navigate your life transition.
In a previous post, I mentioned how change is the only constant in life.
Acknowledging changes as part of a normal part of life helps to ease the distress of a transition to some extent.
All right, my friends. Thank you for listening.
Asker, thank you for sending this question in. Sure hope it helped. As I went through it, however, I couldn’t help but to think about episodes 2 and 3 of the show which answered questions about being at a personal crossroads and finding life purpose, respectively. So if you’re looking for more relevant feedback, I think both those episodes could be of use.
Actually, a survey was recently sent out to people who submit questions for the show, and a lot of people reported life purpose as one of the topics they find most interesting, so for anyone else who feels that way, yeah, head back to episode 2, and hopefully another question about life purpose will get sent in soon.
And if you’re the one with a question about life purpose, or anything else, send it on in to us via email. We’re at firstname.lastname@example.org
Send your questions there, and we’ll answer them here for you on the show. Sound good? Sound goods to me, guys. I’m gonna wrap up here.
Thanks for coming, everyone. Another one in the books. I’ll look forward to talking with you guys next time!