The beginning of Autumn signals a welcome relief from blistering summer heat in some parts of the country. In others, it is the harbinger of dark, cold winter coming. Regardless of where you live, seasonal change is inevitable, but growing through change in your own life involves a choice.
Seasonal changes almost always require adjustments – to the thermostat, to your choices about what to wear, to your favorite warm or cold meals and drinks, and to your activities. But whether you’re reaching for an ice cold water bottle or a pumpkin spice latte, it’s time to say, “See you later” to the passing season and “Hello” to the new one!
Seasons of life aren’t always about the weather, of course. They’re about natural progressions and cycles that occur in our lives that include birth and death, youth and maturity, practice and mastery, needing and giving, sickness and health, gain and loss. Changes are inevitable, and yet they can still cause us to feel a bit off-balance at times. When something changes in your life, here are some simple principles to help you choose to adjust:
Accept that Change is normal
It is virtually impossible for a living organism to avoid change. Plants, animals, microscopic cells, organizations and people all go through changes. Whatever is happening today will not stay exactly the same forever, and it is best to remember that. Bad days can eventually fade into better days and good days need to be enjoyed while they last!
Adapt to the Change
Some changes require you to do something different to adapt. For example, when the honeymoon seems over, you need to intentionally set aside time with your spouse to keep the spark alive. Family routines change from diapers to school backpacks and parents adapt by giving their children age-appropriate responsibility. Baby teeth fall out and the anguish of acne begins, so parents become listeners more than caretakers. In many families, adapting means the children begin caring for aging parents in a difficult role-reversal. When you are facing a new season, talk with friends and other family members who can walk with you through grieving or celebrating the passing season and help you strategize the next one.
Grow through the Change
If you have ever been to a class reunion, someone has probably said, “You haven’t changed a bit!” That is usually meant as a compliment, but if it were true it would be an insult! If you went through ten years of your life without growing in wisdom, experience, character and maturity, something would be terribly wrong! Some seasons and circumstances force us to change in ways we would never choose – such as adapting to life with a chronic illness or loss of some kind – but growth is still the best way to create value from the unwanted change. You have heard it said that you can become bitter or better, and it is always an important time of growth when you choose to become better, kinder, more understanding, wiser and more patient.
Find Joy in the Change
In nature, the seasons all have their pros and cons. For some, Spring is allergy season, but it’s because of the beautiful flowers. Summer brings mosquitoes and sunburn, but also vacations and watermelon. Autumn is back to school and Halloween candy. Winter is freezing cold, slippery and dark until the sun glistens on the snow and the Christmas lights twinkle. No matter what season you are in, there is probably something difficult and something wonderful about it. Don’t ignore either one!
Set your mind on the good things that are happening, and you will find the joy in every season!
Live, Work & Relate Well!
Dr. Linaman is a psychologist and executive coach providing counseling and professional development services to individuals, couples, work teams and organizations.