You know that feeling when you’ve worked so hard for so long on something? It’s great to finish, to get to the end. Wonderful. Now you’ll have a chance to breathe. It’s a great feeling, but it can also be stressful.
Soon you start to wonder, “Now what?”
How will you fill your days? What will you plan for now?
Like when you’ve trained for an event (professional, athletic, personal) and you’re nervous and anxious, but then the day comes and you do it and then it’s over.
Or when you finish school or change jobs, or when your kids start growing up and you’re no longer the center of their world, or (yikes!) when they move out on their own and you have to let them go find their own way. (I know. It sounds wonderful, but when you’ve always been a mother bird, an empty nest can be a shock.)
When a chapter in your life ends, you may find yourself asking, “Now what?”. While you’re figuring out your next move, stay positive. Stay hopeful.
Here are some suggestions to help you stay hopeful, happy and positive while you figure out your next move.
Listen to music.
There’s something about listening to upbeat, happy music that connects to your brain and helps you stay positive, even hopeful. (Click here to read a study about the link between music and happiness.)
For me it’s the music’s lyrics and beat, but also the artist and my emotional reaction to both.
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. The incredibly talented Sharon Jones, who died last year of pancreatic cancer, was forty years old when she started her music career. Her story and her powerful voice remind me it’s never too late. Don’t give up.
Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” makes me want to dance. Music has the power to turn you inside out. Instead of sulking and worrying and wondering about all that’s wrong with the world it helps keep you going and know it’s going to be okay.
“Swim” by Jacks Mannequin is just encouraging. They may be talking to angst filled teenagers, but they’re also talking to me. Don’t quit. Keep going, no matter what.
Change your scenery. Something about being outdoors helps clear the mind. Is it the vitamin D, the fresh air, the change in scenery? Maybe it’s all those things. When you’re changing courses, are in between projects, or trying to figure out what’s next, take a few minutes to get outside.
The mind-body connection is real and there’s science to back it up. Exercise, even a brisk walk, gets your blood going which gets oxygen in your blood, raises endorphin (feel good hormone) levels, lowers cortisol (stress hormone) levels, and can improve your sense of well-being. Exercise is always important, but especially when you have a lot on your mind.
When you’re not sure what you want to do, which direction to take, or how you feel about the changes in your life, journaling can help you clarify confusion. The simple act of writing it all out can be cleansing. It’s kind of like a mental dump. Journaling helps you see trends in thoughts and can help clear your head which in turn clears your path. The clearer you are, the more confidently you can move forward.
Guard your mind.
It’s easy to get sucked in to the news and social media. Be selective. If you believe everything you hear, the world is a terrible place to be. It’s never been worse. That influence can make a person feel hopeless. Take a break, pull yourself away, and focus on what’s within your control (what you do) instead of what’s out of your control (everything else).
Things change. Life is a constant ebb and flow, up and down. That’s what keeps life interesting, don’t you think? I wish you more ups than downs. But when you’re stuck between things, I wish you the time and opportunity to choose thoughtfully about your next project, to have the courage to move in the direction of your dreams.