I have been thinking about life transitions a lot lately. Perhaps it’s because I’m at an age where my peer group is encountering all manner of life changes. It seems I’m having transition conversations almost daily with clients, colleagues and friends.
Life transitions are varied and complex. From marriage to children, the purchase of a home, divorce, loss of a loved one or close friend, the sale of a business, a sudden inheritance, or retirement, these are all major life transitions that can deeply impact our decision making and stress levels.
As advisers, we find that there are two sides to money. There’s the technical side; taxes, structures, cash flow, risk, investing etc., then there’s the personal side; relationships, emotions, expectations, dreams, personal values, and sense of well-being. I have a saying – ‘when life is in motion, money is in e-motion’.
In life transitions, the technical and emotional sides of money are equally important. However, it is our emotional side that dominates our decision making. Depending on the nature of the life transition and the depth of the emotion, our decision making can be deeply impacted.
There are four stages to a life transition. The first is Anticipation. We don’t always get the opportunity to anticipate a life transition. Sudden bereavement, an unexpected separation, or a severe medical event are all examples where there is no opportunity for anticipation. These are the toughest transitions of all because they are accompanied by greater shock. Other transitions like bereavement after a long illness, separation after an unhappy marriage, or a planned retirement are examples of where we have an opportunity to anticipate, think and consider our options. The opportunity to anticipate is the beginning of the adjustment process.
The next stage is ‘the ending’ or the realisation that life has just changed profoundly and irreversibly. Emotions will range from numbness, shock and grief for some, and relief or elation for others.
The ending is followed by Passage, which is the stage of moving from what was to what will be. The length of the passage depends on the transition but is nevertheless a time of considerable adjustment. Only when we have fully come to terms with our new reality can we fully embark on the final stage, our New Normal.
Life is full of ups and downs and inevitable transitions. How we deal with these transitions will be determined by the quality of our thinking. I believe in the saying, no one succeeds alone, so if you, or someone you care about, is facing a life transition, we may be able to help.David Andrew
Founder and CEO
P.S. I am writing an e-book on this subject and I’m really interested in your life transition story. If you have a story you’d like to share with me (confidentially of course), I would love to hear from you.Read more articles about transition.