To Anticipate or To Not – 3 Ways to Manage the First Stage of a Life Transition
In our previous post –The Struggle Is Real – How To Flow Through Big Life Changes – we discussed the four stages typically seen in a major life transition. Whether it be a death, divorce, selling a business, retiring, starting a family, or anything else that causes a big shift in life, there are typically 4 stages that one goes through.
The first stage, if present, is Anticipation. Sometimes a big life transition cannot be anticipated such as a sudden death or an unexpected divorce but often times, there is a period where one is anticipating a big life change coming up. It is in Anticipation that stories start to be formed. These stories and narratives may have been underway for quite some time. “When I retire…” “If we won the lottery…” “Should my spouse pass before me…”. The stories we tell ourselves in anticipation of a major life transition can be very revealing. They give us understanding of our expectations once the change occurs. They reveal promises we make to ourselves and others. Anticipation can be an uplifting practice to help manage the upcoming change however, there are some pitfalls with Anticipation that should be monitored.
3 Ways to Manage the Anticipation Stage of a Life Transition:
Be careful of future spending.
When we anticipate a life transition that will involve a big change in money (ex. inheritance), it is easy to fall prey to future spending. In this, we consider what we will do with the money and how it will impact life. While this scenario testing can be positive, it is important to not get overextended in making promises to oneself and others. Managing your own expectations of the upcoming change and also managing the expectations of others is critical in the phase of Anticipation. Others may assume that you will fund the next big vacation with your new found money. Your spouse may have plans of their own with the new financial freedom.
In this phase, it is important to go through an exercise of understanding your own expectations and others. Write down what you expect to be different going forward and write down what has been promised to others. Look for misalignment and come up with statements that can help you control your own story and the stories of others. One example that could be helpful with a child who has expectation of your inheritance: “ I have a clear plan of how I would like to use the inheritance that is aligned with my expectations. As I feel comfortable, I will share that plan with you.”
Have a Growth Mindset.
Mindset when entering a transition is the cornerstone to how you will progress and move through the transition. If your mindset is “fixed”, you will likely see the transition with a sense of gloom and doom. You will only see the negative side of a big change and may experience hopelessness which could impact your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Instead, work to adopt a growth mindset about the change.
A growth mindset will help you understand that while the transition and future may bring challenges, you will learn and grow from those times and come out the other side a changed person for the better. It is in the valleys of life where we do our best growing but only if we see the valley as such an opportunity. Instead of thinking through all that could go wrong with the upcoming transition, make a list of what could go well and what you might learn. Lean on prior experiences you have had with big life transitions and think about the positives outcomes that came.
Do not fall victim to Invincibility.
It can be tempting to assume that a big life change such as retirement or selling a business will solve all the problems of the present. The thought that once the changes happens, everything that is possible will happen. This is the “grass is greener” mind trap that we have to be on guard against. Understanding that while change can bring positives and new life but it does not mean that all of life’s problems will be better.
A person who is moving into retirement can think that once they leave their miserable job, all will be sunshine and rainbows in life. This may be true for a period of time but eventually old patterns and mindsets come back into play. Retirement can seem like the answer to all of life’s woes but in the end, one must be intentional about happiness and engagement in retirement – same as when they were working.
We at Aspyre Wealth Partners believe that life transitions are a gift because of the growth that can come from these periods of time. The phase of Anticipation can be a helpful period of time as one gets ready for what is about to come in life. Be mindful of the pitfalls and see the first step as the jumping off point to great things to come.