Tuesday, May 4, 2010

2 Ways to Handle Life Transitions with Flair

You can handle a transition (new job, end of a semester, a new marriage, a death, a birth, anything new) by:

1.  Reminding Yourself of your Personal Mission Statement
2.  Imagining a Kite

I know, this is not what you expected today.  Let me explain.  I get depressed and anxious every time I enter a new life phase.  I don’t like change.  Not many people do.  As I sat down to try and figure out how to handle my transition to summer with flair, these two things grounded me.  Since a change of routine disables all our normal coping mechanisms, sometimes the body fights by any host of symptoms: anxiety, depression, fear, uneasiness, and sometimes a paralysis (you want to sleep all day and not face the new).  It’s like my identity crumbles apart with change.  This doesn’t have to be the case.

I remembered the semester I made myself write a Personal Mission Statement.  I promised my students that a mission statement helps us make good choices, enables us to navigate change, and delivers us safely to the other side of life transitions.  Mission statements stabilize us.  Today, mine anchored me.

Finding a mission statement takes time, but once you write it down, life feels more settled.  Here’s an easy way to frame a mission statement:

I am devoted to__________________________.
My goal is to ___________________________ by _______________________.  (use strong verbs here.  See "5 Ways to Write with Flair.")

So, for example, here are some of my mission statements:

I am devoted to excellence in teaching.  My goal is to build writing communities by generating atmospheres of trust, acceptance, and inspiration.


I am devoted to being a fun mother.  My goal is to create lasting memories for my children by planning unmediated nature experiences, building a neighborhood, and training them in the art of friendship. 

I am devoted to being a great wife.  My goal is to support and inspire my husband by helping him fulfill his dreams, partnering with him in his endeavors, and creating an environment of predictable joy in our home. (That last part is a stinker for me.  Pray for me.) 

When I recall my mission statements, I always feel less unstable.  No matter what transition I’m going through, my mission statement remains fixed.  It tells me that I have goals to pursue even if everything in my schedule unravels. 

Now for Part Two:  Imagine the Kite

Last night I watched my children fly kites.  A kite is what I feel like when I'm undergoing a transition.  I dip and I dive, I crash land, I jitter and jounce.  But if I remember I am tethered and held by a Strong Hand, I can relax and know that eventually, I’ll find the right air current and soar.  

Living with flair means I'm assured of my mission, and I relax on the journey up. 

1 comment:

JoAnn Foley-DeFiore said...

Let's make a summer mission statement! love, jo