Are you in a Transition? Is it starting to affect your finances?
A transition is a passage from one form or state to another. Our lives are filled with transitions–some small, some large. Small ones happen on a daily basis as we move from one activity to the next or even from one state of mind to the next. Big ones are spoken of in more dramatic language: We may find ourselves at a crossroads, passing over a threshold, making a shift, heading in new direction, engaging in a transformative process.
The beginning of a transition can be the most challenging part of it. We may feel disoriented and discouraged because old strategies and familiar ways of being are not working anymore. Or we may find that the transition is spreading out, affecting multiple and unexpected areas of our life. It’s as if one ball gets thrown up in the air, and then a few more join it. We can end up feeling like those balls–ungrounded and spinning all around.
In some transitions it can be useful to wait several months to see how it is all going before taking action (for example when a large sum of money, such as an inheritance or car accident settlement, is received) . Other transitions come on more gradually or at a more subtle level, and you might find yourself months into one before you even realize what’s going on.
Lately, my clients and students have been telling me more and more tales of transition. And I’ve begun to see and understand in new ways how they can affect our finances.
Here are some real examples from clients:
Scenario A: You’ve been single for a while and, after getting real about your money patterns, you rigged up a great system on Quicken to track your personal finances. You recently found the partner/spouse of your dreams, got married, and now are having a heck of a time trying to create a new money system and money practice together. You do things so differently and haven’t found your meeting place yet. You don’t know where to start. It all feels messy and overwhelming.
Scenario B: You’ve been married for a decade or two and find yourself getting a divorce. After having a decent money tracking system in place that was working (maybe your spouse took care of everything or you simply had a system that worked for both of you), you find yourself lost, confused, and scared as you are struggling to do finances on your own.
Scenario C: You have been married with a dual income household for years, and now you just had your first child. You are choosing to stay at home to parent in your ideal way while your partner brings home all of the bacon. Meanwhile you are trying to adjust to less income and your feelings about not directly making money yourself–all while being a new mommy.
Scenario D: Your family business has been bringing in the same revenue for the last few years, and you’ve mapped out all of your income and expenses. You were clear about your numbers so you stopped tracking for a while, thinking you had it all set and taken care of. Then suddenly you find yourself bouncing checks and having cash flow dips. You realize that you don’t actually know what your current income and expenses are because you stopped tracking.
When you look at the actual numbers you realize that your business has been bringing in less income this year but that your personal spending is at the same level as the previous year…and you have been doing this for the last six months not realizing that your business was in a transition.
Scenario E: New freelancer! You finally made the leap and left your other job to devote yourself full time to your own business. And now you’re wondering how the heck to navigate the up and down income as opposed to the consistent income that you were used to.
Do any of these scenarios match your life? Are you in another type of transition that’s affecting your finances?
Here are some basic guidelines to help you begin to navigate your transition:
It’s time to realize that change is here, and you may not be feeling like yourself.
It’s time to take a deep breath and realize you are in a transition and new rules and strategy may apply.
It’s time to feel all of the feelings that are emerging.
It’s time to realize that it may take some experimentation before you get a new system in place again and move more into the productive stage of life again.
It’s time to realize that this is temporary and won’t last forever. This is really important to remember. Please add in the larger view that this is not forever, this is a transition and it will shift and change down the road.
Feel all those feelings. Move some of those cobwebs. Engage your resources: Dance, write, journal, hike, have a good cry. Maybe take up kick boxing!
Catch your reactions as much as possible. Insert rest and pauses into your new life and schedule. Add in regular body check-ins.
Do something simple which may be obvious to you to do in a “normal” state but which has eluded you at this time, such as looking at your existing numbers, seeing what is real right now in terms of what is and what is not working, or sitting down for a short money date.
Take a moment to see if there are any expenses that can be decreased, such as house cleaning, gym membership, or all organic food. And then add in free hikes, ½ organic food, more cooking at home. Look for more opportunities to do trades.
Take a moment to see new ways to increase income. Let new ideas and inspirations come to you. Let go of your old assumptions about what’s possible (and not possible) for you. Open the door–through prayer, ritual, or other ways–for something new to come through.
Dust off your Quicken, Excel, Quickbooks system…Or start a new system on Mint, YNAB or Money Minder.
Review where you have been and where you are going. Check your north star. Trust that it’s ok if you don’t have clarity. It will come…
Realize that all plans, budgets, maps of intentions need consistent care. Just like watering the garden, flossing those teeth, exercising every other day. Go back to chop wood, carry water.
And, remember this is not forever.
With my dearest wishes,