Have your years of schooling ended this spring when you graduated? Or are your decades in the workforce ending as your retire from your career? Both of these life-changing events are similar in that they were something that consumed your life for years and they now have ended…you are in a big life transition as you move to something new.
I have graduated from high school, college, and graduate school, and even though I haven’t officially “retired,” I have left a teaching job to stay home with my children as a homemaker (I switched careers!), so I can relate to the strange newness that you are in or see coming on the horizon when your current endeavor ends. Here are four actions that will help you transition well:
Tip # 1: Finish Strong
If you have not wrapped up the old job or graduated yet, remember that finishing strong will help have a more brilliant start to your new season. For example, as my school year ended, I needed to rely a bit more on movies as parts of my lessons, but I still stayed connected to my students. An even deeper connection happened when I told my students that I was pregnant and not coming back the next school year. I hold my homeroom of 7th graders first (and it spread across the whole school in like 15 minutes!), and there was so much happy discussion for the rest of the period (and some silly baby name suggestions, such as “Bless Schuh”). I wrote each student an encouraging note, and we had fun at the end of the year (which included pizza and brownies…) We ended well; thinking back makes me happy. If I transition back to teaching, ending on that strong note will help me start even stronger when I begin again. This can be the same for you!
Tip # 2: Connect with Others
Stay connected to people! When your normal social structure of school or the workplace is taken away, you will feel the loss, gap, void for a while. You might need to go through some or all of the stages of grief. You may need to grieve through talking about it, journaling, and even crying. It’s okay! If you put your heart into your work/studies, it makes sense that it hurts when your life changes. Since your old “crew” of people have either graduated or are left behind at work, it’s time to find new groups of friends. To illustrate, after I stepped down from my teaching job, the summer felt normal because teachers have the summer off, but when the school year started up again, it felt weird for a bit to be at home. That is when I joined a Bible study at my church. I also started hanging out with a friend and her two little boys weekly where we would talk and sometimes wander the local arboretum. Don’t isolate; take the time to connect with new friends!
Tip # 3: Connect with God
When you finish a degree or job, you have new open spaces in your life, so take time to spend some extra time with God. He loves you, wants to just be with you, and will give you the strength to transition well through this time of change. Just ask Him for help! He is there for you.
Tip # 4: Dream New Dreams
Dream about what the next adventure in your life will be! If you graduated from college or graduate school, ponder about what your dream job and career looks like. The transition from graduate to the dream career will probably take time; just realizing that it will take time and hard work will keep you from letting bitterness and hopelessness creep in. If you focus on your ideal career, you will eventually get there or to an even better job. I have a friend who trained to be a classroom teacher, and she couldn’t find a teaching job, so she substitute taught for years, just faithfully applied for jobs and became a better teacher…then after years of doing this, she landed her first full-time classroom teaching job! Her faithfulness and persistence paid off. I aimed at becoming a teacher, I worked as one for several years, and now I’m in my dream career of being a wife and Mom—I love it! If you just retired, you might think you don’t need dreams now that you finished your career, but it’s an even more important time to dream and figure out how you want to spend all this free time you have been given. Ask yourself:
-What do I want to do?
-Where do I want to travel?
-Who do I want to help?
-What hobbies do I want to develop?
As you talk, journal, discuss, and think through these questions…a dream/goal/hope will emerge. As you practice good self-care, let yourself breathe, and let yourself feel what you want—your true desires will come to the surface. Listen to what you want to do! Then do it! Cook healthy food…try a new exercise class…volunteer for causes you love… Take the time to discover deeper who you are and what you love.
May God bless you with peace and new adventures as you keep on walking through this adjustment into a new season of life.
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Thank you again, and peace to you and your family!