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Change and Uncertainty Along Your Life’s Journey

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If there is a single inarguable truth about our experience living in this pandemic fraught world, it may be that all of our lives have changed in ways we did not foresee. Everything from our personal relationships to our professional lives to our finances has been affected. Of course, some have been challenged with more changes than others, but it is doubtful there is a single person this virus has not impacted in some way. The process of adapting to change is termed “transition.”

 We encounter many transitions over the course of our lifetime. Some planned and some unplanned.  Some occur in isolation while others occur very close together, even simultaneously at times. The older we get, the more transitions we are likely to experience—marriage, death, divorce, career changes, moving, having children, receiving an inheritance, and perhaps (if we’re lucky enough) we even see our children building successful careers, getting married, and having their own children. It’s pretty remarkable how much can change in a short time, let alone over the course of your life.  Essentially, aging is in itself a continuous transition. Each day, we are on a path toward the next phase or chapter of our lives. 

Essentially, what we are experiencing now with the spread of COVID-19 is a transition on a major scale. All of us, together, have been challenged on multiple levels to adapt to this new world at the same time. We are collectively changing and evolving together. 

Objectively, when we look at transitions and the change they bring about, we can logically identify that nothing stays the same forever. Human beings are not immortal. We age and our children grow up and move on to build lives of their own. The economy expands and contracts. Relationships, personal and business, are built and broken all the time. 

The problem with change is that it challenges what we identify as our normal. It threatens what we have grown accustomed to, what we know, feels comfortable, and feels right. In challenging our security, change very often induces fear, panic, anxiety, and a whole host of emotions that try and push back against the unknown that lays ahead making our transition more difficult. 

The danger here is that these feelings can render us incapable, or diminished in our capacity, to make sound decisions—especially regarding our financial well-being. Costly mistakes are often made when individuals begin to feel the pressures that come from the onset of a life-changing transition.

The uncertainty surrounding the outcome of this pandemic may feel threatening to our stability, security, and safety, in much the same way. It may even feel as if you have experienced and are grieving a great loss, mourning the way things used to be. It is times like these when keeping a sense of perspective, or having someone to help you find it, can be invaluable. 

In 1803, poet William Blake experienced this same sense of grief for “the way things used to be” as he saw the factories of industrialization litter England’s countryside at the turn of the century. In response, he wrote the poem “Auguries of Innocence” (unpublished until 1863) from which the following excerpt is taken: 

Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the Soul divine;
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.
It is right it should be so,
We were made for joy and woe,
And when this we rightly know,
Through the world we safely go.

-William Blake from “Auguries of Innocence” (1803, 1863)

What we find fascinating about Blake’s poem is its ability to capture the contradictions that occur within us at times of transition—anticipation and fear, good stress and bad stress, love and loss. It juxtaposes joy and grief to point out the inextricable relationship between them. 

Whenever our world feels upended, we can find comfort in knowing that through the passage of grief and discomfort we can move to find joy and peace. Even the most painful transitions can be surmounted and lead us to a better place. Even the most difficult experiences to endure can catalyze growth and resilience. 

When we view the changes in our lives through this lens, our experience of grief shifts. It is almost as if the passage grants us permission to experience and feel our grief in a palpable and visceral way in order that we may begin to pass into a place of joy, peace, and happiness in our new space. 

As parts of the country begin to reopen and we phase into uncharted territory, we encourage you to keep this perspective in mind. In our role as Certified Financial Transitionists®, we work with clients throughout their life’s journey to make thoughtful personal and financial moves at times when their emotions may tempt them to do otherwise. 

Whether you are anticipating a major life change, or have found yourself struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Certified Financial Transitionist® (CeFT®) professionals at Northstar Financial Planning can help. Once we learn a little about your situation, we can pair you with the advisor who specializes in the type of transition you are experiencing. Schedule your complimentary Get Acquainted meeting today to see how our transition services could benefit you. 

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