Transitions can be tough.
In a span of three short months, I left school, got a job, left the job, started a business and in the midst of all these, a long-term relationship came to an end.
I was in a state of confusion and struggled with the dilemma of whether to continue pursuing a career in yoga or look for “a normal job” and put my economics degree to use. I pondered over matters like financial security, lifestyle aspirations, personal/career fulfilment, and happiness. Eventually, I decided to register a yoga business and follow my dream, which was growing larger by the day.
This past year has been one of change and evolution for me. Through much self-reflection and spending significantly more time practising the Yamas and Niyamas of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga – specifically Satya (truthfulness to others and myself) and Svadhyaya (self-study of the mind and own reality), these are the 15 lessons I’ve learnt along the way:
On life as a young person…
- Spend more time with older people
When I faced so much uncertainty and was hovering in limbo, I found myself spending significantly more time with people who were older than me. I used to be resistant to the idea that wisdom comes with age and experience but I must now say that it is indeed very true. The conversations you’ll have with them will really make you think, as they’re able to offer different viewpoints that you may not have considered. They prepare you for the future.
- Enjoy the freedom of having minimal commitments
Transitions will be much harder when financial and family commitments come into play. So use this opportunity to embrace change bravely and fully while you have the freedom to.
- Never set a deadline for marriage, kids or major life events
People and circumstances evolve all the time. Someone you once thought you will marry in the future might be completely out of your life in the blink of an eye. While it’s good to have a plan, it’s also important to be flexible. Don’t stress yourself out for nothing – learn to ride the waves.
- Act older than your biological age, especially at work
This is especially so when you are in the midst of building your career and credibility. Show them how much you’ve got to offer and convince them with real results because actions speak louder than words, after all.
On life in general…
- Always put things into perspective
In periods of transition, it is easy for emotions to overshadow reality. Things are often not as bad as you think they are. See #6 for the “how”.
- Cultivate mindfulness
When your emotions and mind are all over the place, pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation are good ways to calm your nerves. There are tons of scientific research that demonstrate the positive effect that meditation has on the brain. Regulating the breath helps us to control the mind. So make it a point to meditate regularly. Pick up some mindfulness meditation practice here.
- It’s okay to feel confused
When major segments of your life seem to fall apart at the same time, and when your life is in a state of flux, it is perfectly okay to feel confused. It shows that you are thinking, you are aware, and that you care.
- Manage your finances well
You’ll never know when a major life change might hit you. Set budgets, record your expenses, review them monthly, buy insurance, be mindful of the opportunity cost before making financial commitments, and make sure you have enough to tide you through financial droughts. It may save you much unnecessary stress in the future.
- Take the path of least resistance
During transitional phases, you may be faced with major decisions to make. The path of least resistance isn’t necessarily the easiest path. It could in fact be the most challenging but it is the path of least resistance because your heart feels at peace with that decision, and is most inclined to follow that path. Conversely, the path that appears the easiest and safest might actually create much struggle within your heart. If you find your heart struggling, you might want to reconsider the direction in which you should proceed.
- Manage yourself with care
Setbacks are inevitable and life gets the better of us sometimes. Be extremely careful about how you deal with yourself in these times. It is very easy to slip to the dark, destructive side. Being very aware about your thoughts and emotions will help you to focus on the positive. Always choose to find healthy means of expression and release, or at times, a little escapism may be called for, but only for a period of time before you get down to dealing with it.
- Sometimes, “Plan B works out better”
There will be times when your Plan A may fail, and you may not have a Plan B in place. And that’s okay. Trust that Plan B will show up at its own time and everything will eventually fall into place exactly how it should. Life has an interesting way of rescuing you, as long as you keep on going.
On relationships – platonic, romantic, familial, etc…
- Nobody can read your mind
This seems pretty obvious but it’s something we often forget when we’re in the daily grind or caught up in relationship woes. Learn to communicate what you want clearly and respectfully, while being sensitive to others’ needs.
- Distinguish between the busybodies and those who really care
Just because someone asks “what happened, care to share?” does not mean that he or she really cares. Some people are only interested in gossip so be selective about who you choose to share your troubles with.
- Men and women are different
Another pretty obvious statement but here I’m referring to gender equality. The tragic end of my last romantic relationship led me to rethink my belief about this. I cannot expect my partner’s needs to be fulfilled in the same way as I would like mine to be fulfilled. Take the time and effort to learn what makes the other person feel the most loved, and do these things a lot.
- Complete yourself first
If you, as the person you currently are, wouldn’t choose to be in a committed relationship with yourself, don’t get into a committed relationship with someone else. Work on completing yourself first, and becoming the kind of person you would want to commit to.
Major life transitions can be dramatic and painful but they also bring great opportunity for growth. Once you get over the hurdle, you evolve, and this is your chance to blossom.
How have you bloomed as a result of a major transition in your life?