• How to Survive a Transition Period

    We’ve all been through periods in life where everything is up in the air, for the most part. You might be between jobs right now, or maybe you’re looking for a new apartment or a new relationship. Whatever the case, you might be feeling lost, helpless, and confused. But I want you to know this: you are not alone.

    I’m not where I thought I’d be three months ago. Sometimes that terrifies me. Other times, it’s exciting. My mood shifts every day. As a perfectionist and a self-professed control freak, this is difficult for me. Nothing is going the way I planned, and sometimes, I feel stuck, unmotivated, and anxious about my current situation.

    In moments of helplessness, you might feel as though you’ll never get “unstuck,” or that you’ll be where you are for the rest of your life. Of course, that’s not the case. No matter how confused, anxious, or lost you may be feeling right now, you are not alone, and this transition period will end. Nothing lasts forever, after all.

    But while you’re in the midst of a difficult phase, there are some things you can do to make your life a little easier. Here are a few strategies I’ve discovered for how to survive a transition period in life.

    1. LIST YOUR STRESSES

    The next time you feel anxious or upset about the course your life has taken, sit down and make a list (bonus points for writing it out on paper) of all your current stressors. An example from my own life might say, “Not enough writing time, don’t have my own apartment, live far from friends” and things of that nature. No matter how silly or small what’s stressing you out seems, I want you to write it down. Once you’ve got your list, it’s time to move on to…

    2. CIRCLE EVERYTHING YOU CAN CHANGE

    Chances are, there are several things on your list that are outside your control, such as the deteriorating health of a loved one, suffering from a chronic illness, or anything like that. For this exercise, I want you to try to ignore those points. We’re only going to focus on what’s within our power to change. Let’s look at my examples: writing time, apartment, and distance from friends. These are all within my power to change, regardless of how hard it might be to do so. After you’ve figured out what you can change, feel free to…

    3. LIST POTENTIAL NEXT STEPS

    When you’ve figured out what you can change, you should decide how exactly you want it to change. For me, with writing time, I want to write more. If I make that goal more specific, it means I want to edit or draft at least 1,000 words each day, regardless of the project I have going at the moment. Some next steps toward that goal would be analyzing my time, determining what can be cut, tracking my writing progress, telling friends and loved ones, and perhaps outsourcing some tasks. When you know what all you need to do, go ahead and…

    4. DETERMINE ORDER AND PRIORITY

    Now that you have your next steps, what needs to be done first? Let’s go again with my writing example. I need to track my time and determine what can be cut from my life to make time for writing. I need to outsource some tasks to make more time for writing, and tell friends and loved ones that I’m taking time for myself each day, so they’ll know not to disturb me. I also need to track my progress once I’m writing regularly, to make sure my system is as efficient as possible. So, my order and priority list might look something like this:

    1. Track time spent every hour of every day.
    2. Analyze time, determine what can be cut or outsourced.
    3. Cut any distractions or necessary tasks, outsource others.
    4. Determine writing schedule and block off time.
    5. Tell loved ones of my time block.
    6. Write!
    7. Keep track of writing progress and analyze to determine maximum efficiency.

    Not too shabby, right? As soon as you’ve listed everything out, you can always break it down into smaller steps too, if need be. But when you’ve written out your list, it’s time to…

    5. ATTACK THE LIST

    From here, all you have to do is tackle each item on the list, one at a time, until you accomplish your goal. That’s not so bad now, is it? If you want extra productivity and goal-setting points, you can also add self-imposed deadlines. So for me, let’s say I want to track all my time every day this week, and start my analysis on Saturday. Self-imposed deadlines are a great way to help you stay motivated and on track.

    Pro tip: Tackle one goal at a time! Although it might be thrilling to try to change everything at once, you’re much more likely to see success through building habits one by one. Wait until you reach one goal before rushing on to the next one. 🙂

    I also recommend writing your goals out, including the order and priority of your next steps, and keeping them somewhere you can see them every day. That way, you can be constantly reminded where you might be heading, instead of where you are.

    What are your tips for staying focused on your goals?

  • 23 Before 23 Update

    Cherry Soda in a Glass with Two Straws
    It’s been a while since I talked about my 23 Before 23.

    In my last post on the subject, I made a list of 23 things I wanted to accomplish before my 23rd birthday. Since my birthday is now only three months and one day away (June 17), I thought it might be a good time to update you on my progress.

    Long story short – I haven’t accomplished as much as I’d hoped to by now. I could really use some help.

    Once more, here’s my list of 23 Before 23:

    1. Stop drinking soda. I’ve cut back a lot, and at the time of writing this post, I haven’t had soda in five days or so. (Thanks, Chris!)
    2. Read 23 books. I think I’ve read about seven so far. Eek.
    3. Pay off my cat’s veterinary bills.
    4. Make a dent in my student loans. I need to make this goal more specific somehow… Any suggestions?
    5. Host a dinner party. Oops. I actually forgot about this one.
    6. Get published. Working on it!
    7. Join a club. I’ve signed up to volunteer with the local theater. Fingers crossed!
    8. Comment on at least one blog post per day. I need to get better about this one, too.
    9. Trade guest posts with three bloggers. One down, two to go!
    10. Mentor someone. WHO NEEDS A MENTOR??
    11. Get a new laptop. Found a MacBook Pro for pretty cheap. I just need to save some money.
    12. Save $1000 dollars. I was close, and then I hit some financial hardship. *sighs*
    13. Go ziplining. I found the place, but I don’t want to go alone.
    14. Try out for a play. See number seven.
    15. Consistently post three times a week.
    16. Say “yes” to invitations.
    17. Volunteer.
    18. Contact one writer, blogger, or person I admire per week.
    19. Compile a blog directory. Ava Jae’s blog directory is absolutely gorgeous and an excellent idea.
    20. Support my favorite authors and beloved writing tweeps.
    21. Stop biting my nails.
    22. Make my bed every day. Why is this so difficult?
    23. Visit New York again. Except I don’t really want to do that anymore – I want to go somewhere new instead.

    So, there it is. I have my shortcomings. I’m running out of time to accomplish all these things, and I’m going to need help and support from all of you. Please keep me accountable to this list! If you could ask me how I’m doing with it every so often, I would love you forever.

    Well, more than I already do, anyway.

    I’m also thinking about starting some kind of club where we all try one new habit or routine each month, like a thirty-day challenge. Let me know what you think!

    What tips can you give me to help with this list? What would your list look like? What do you think about my thirty-day challenge club idea?Tweet tweet:

    Three months before her birthday, @brianawrites discusses the items on her list that have yet to be crossed off. (Click to tweet)