Now What?


You know what was and you know what could be but how do you get there?  You anticipated a big life transition or maybe you didn’t and you were flung right into the ending stage (See  You have accepted the change whether it is the death of a loved one, divorce, selling a business, retiring, having a child, getting married, etc. You have acknowledged that once was will no longer be going forward.  You have worked out the overwhelm and barrage of decisions that often come with a big Ending in life. You survived. You are still surviving.  You may, in fact, be thriving.  But now what?


What If?


The third stage that is commonly seen when someone goes through a life transition is called Passage.  It is the stage where future scenarios and possibilities are contemplated and maybe even tested? It is a time to ask “What If?”  “What if I sell the house and finally move to France?”  “What if I go back to school and pursue a passion this time?”  This time of consideration can be really exciting and yes, it can be overwhelming.  This is where us Financial Planners really shine as we can help those in transition see the possibilities and consider the scenarios to find the path forward.


“It takes time to go back and find forgotten or new identities.”


And while the scenario testing and “What If” asking can be liberating, it sometimes has a dark side.  Sometimes we get stuck because with the ending maybe came an ending to part of our identity.  If we are unstable in our identity, it can be hard to see the future and possibilities because we don’t know our place in it. We see this with individuals who have been a caregiver for years to a spouse or family member.  When that person who needed care dies, the caregiver can find themselves lost since such a major identifying factor of their life is no longer needed. It takes time to go back and find forgotten or new identities.  To remember what makes you “you” outside of labels and roles.  It is an opportunity to reaffirm or find your values and embrace that deep part of yourself.  It can be frightening AND it can be very grounding and comforting.


If you find yourself in Passage or are walking alongside someone in passage, encourage dreaming.  Encourage “What if?”  If they say, “oh I could never do that”, gently and kindly ask them “why not?”  Likely what is holding them back is a past belief that is no longer true.  Remember that it is not our place to move each other along the timeline of a transition but instead to encourage the moments of future movement and listen during the moments of stalling.


For more on the first two stages of a life transition see:

Anticipation Blog:

Ending Blog:

For more information on life transitions: