I write to you today from my newly empty nest. Our youngest child started college a few weeks ago, and after 21 years of day-in-day-out parenting, now the house is strangely quiet and tidy. I miss both of our kids, but I enjoy hearing about their adventures and contemplating what’s next for my husband and me.
Starting a new life chapter offers exciting possibilities and disorienting change. If you’ve recently embarked on a new adventure – changed jobs, gotten married, had a baby, moved, retired, etc. – you’re probably focused on the excitement and might be caught off guard by the stress of a new beginning. If you didn’t have control over the life change – you’ve been fired from a job, rejected by a partner or are grieving the death of a loved one – it might be harder to fathom turning the page.
But a chapter break is a good point to pause and consider your story. You are the protagonist of your life. Own your story by staying focused on your core values. What are your guiding principles? What matters to you the most? What is your life about? With a clear sense of purpose, you can make the most of your situation and regroup more quickly when facing painful twists in your story. Allow your core values to propel you forward.
One of my values is empowerment. Venturing into my new chapter, I steady myself by orienting to how else I empower myself and others.
A new beginning also provides an opportunity to change habits and follow through on your goals. If you want to create a new routine, make the most of a fresh start. For example, now that my days are no longer structured around my kids’ schedules, I rearranged my routines to enhance my sleep and exercise. What helpful habits do you want to create? How can your new situation support your best intentions?
Use life changes, whether chosen or not, to become more authentically yourself – living truer to your core values and creating positive new routines. And remember, you don’t have to wait for a big life change: every morning offers a blank page for your next chapter.