Life changing events come in all shapes and sizes.
Your marriage may break down. You could go bankrupt. Your child may become seriously ill.
Any one of these events has the potential to derail your life course.
Almost a decade ago, each of these events shattered my world.
After too many sleepless nights and more new grey hairs than I care to count, my life today is a happy one. I’m financially stable, have a supportive (and better-looking) new husband and love my kids as much as ever.
Here are my tips for bouncing back from a life changing event.
It isn’t easy. But it’s not impossible either. And it’s always worth it.
Prioritise your time
Life changing events usually blindside us. Before grief, sadness, anger or worry, the initial reaction we experience is shock.
While in shock, it is easy to become overwhelmed. This means that prioritising your time and effort is crucial – for your emotional well-being as much as your efficiency.
Think about the essentials. What must be done for you to get by, and what can wait?
Above all else, my priorities were to keep my kids in private school, put food on the table and to repair broken family bonds. So that’s what I did. I worked three jobs, I watched every cent and refused to let my family slip away.
As the shock wore off and life started to fall into an (albeit frantic) rhythm, I was able to widen my focus and take steps toward fixing the damage done elsewhere.
But until then, it gave me comfort knowing that my priorities were taken care of.
Fight through every obstacle
A life changing event is never really a singular event at all. Inevitably, it will affect us in multiple ways.
Losing your job isn’t a purely financial burden. It means a personal crisis and questions of self-worth.
Marriage dissolution isn’t just life changing emotionally. It means legal settlements, financial obstacles and custody hearings.
Many of us can take the initial hit, but are brought to our knees by the blows that follow. We can grow to expect that the odds won’t turn in our favour, and believe that we will never bounce back.
Don’t allow yourself to catastrophise. Don’t let life get the better of you.
Take a deep breath and focus on getting through that court case, business meeting or week without pay. It could take a fortnight; it could take a month. But eventually your luck will change.
Take all of the help you can get
Despite hitting rock bottom, your pride can still prevent you from accepting the assistance that you desperately need – and deserve.
You may feel as though you are to blame for your circumstances.
You may hate the thought of accepting something for free.
You may be craving help, but simply be too embarrassed to ask.
As uncomfortable as seeking assistance can feel, now is the time to do it. Look into the financial benefits you may be eligible for from your government. Schedule an appointment through your local community centre to connect with legal and financial services. Arrange for one of the school mums to handle pick-up on Thursdays while you work late.
Support services are there for a reason. Your friends are happy to lend a hand just as you would be willing to help them.
Swallow your pride, and just ask.
Don’t try to find meaning – make your own
The idea that everything happens for a reason doesn’t sit well with most people affected by a life changing event.
What could be the explanation behind the loss of a loved one? What could possibly be serendipitous about redundancy from your dream job?
When life is nonsensical, it is up to you to make it mean something.
Start fundraising. Make a career change. Put more time aside for your kids.
The meaning you create from your life changing event can be big or small, short or long term.
Create meaning that ultimately makes your life changing event one for the better.