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The Clocklike Regularity of Major Life Changes

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/09/major-life-changes-happen-clocklike-regularity/616243/

theatlantic.com

The Clocklike Regularity of Major Life Changes
Transitions feel like an abnormal disruption to life, but in fact they are a predictable and integral part of it.

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Transition is difficult

Transition is difficult

Transition, even the completely voluntary, can be a source of intense suffering because it involves adapting to new situations and changing your self-conception.

If we understand transitions, we can control our tendency to fight against them. We can turn major life changes into a source of meaning and transcendence.

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Transition, as an in-between state

Transition is also called liminality by psychologists - a state where you are neither in the state you left nor entirely in your new state. This in-between state creates an identity crisis, even in good transitions.

But they are really a predictable and integral part of life and happen regularly. Author Bruce Feiler interviewed hundreds of people and found that a major life change happens, on average, every 12 to 18 months. Even huge collective transitions such as the pandemic occur with regularity.

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In retrospect, most transitions are seen as positive

In hindsight, even the unwanted transitions are usually seen to have been a success.

Research shows that we tend to see past events as net positives over time. Even the most challenging transitions have some positive fruit. It may just take some time to see it.

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Accepting and leaning into transitions

When we don't resist challenging transitions, we learn how to cope with subsequent life changes. We gain a sense of meaning that makes the rest of life seem more stable.

Those who benefit and learn the most from them are those who accept them and lean into them.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Lifequakes

They are the transitions and moments of disruption that offer unique opportunities for insight and wisdom.

The constant handling of big and small obstacles and setbacks, ironically, is what provides meaning to our lives. It is almost as if a Gateway or threshold has to be crossed, signifying the commitment of the journey from the ‘Hero’ who is able to successfully complete the ‘test of life’.

Autobiographical Occasions

Life transitions are the interesting chapters of our internal autobiographies, that provide us with the opportunity, tools and the reason to transform ourselves for the better.

We need to take small steps, or ‘microsteps’ to accept these transition moments, visualize and plan out the change, shed our old ways, unveil our transformation and the resulting new self, and to storify the entire transition.

3 more ideas

The new law of productivity

High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus)

Deep work vs. Shallow work

  • Deep work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. Creates value.
  • Shallow work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. Doesn't create value.

4 philosophies to integrate Deep Work into your life

  • Monastic: maximize Deep Work by minimizing or removing shallow obligations. Isolate yourself for long periods of time without distractions; no shallow work allowed
  • Bimodal: divide your time into some clearly defined stretches to deep pursuits and leave the rest open to everything else. Reserve a few consecutive days when you will be working like a monastic. You need at least one day a week
  • Rhythmic: involves creating a routine where you define a specific time period — ideally three to four hours every day — that you can devote to Deep Work
  • Journalistic: alternate your day between deep and shallow work as it fits your blocks of time. Not recommended to try out first.

The Three Phases Of Life Transitions

The Three Phases Of Life Transitions

In the face of a crisis, we feel chaotic and out of control. The transition comes in three phases:

  1. The Long Goodbye, in which we see our old self go.

Identifying Emotions During Life Transitions

  • Be aware of your emotions such as fear, sadness and shame.
  • Writing down your feelings or doing certain rituals or activities to cope up with the loss is a great way to transition your life.
  • A ritualistic gesture becomes a statement and a metaphor for your emotions to take a physical form.

The Process Of Letting Go

Shedding of something we have long clung to, like a certain mindset, delusion, habit or dream, is part of the messy middle.

It clears the unwanted parts of your life, creating space for something new to blossom.