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Recognizing and Managing Transition Fatigue

Occasionally, each of us has a day when we feel "off," when our capable, confident, focused and decisive selves seem to go AWOL.

Usually we can chalk these episodes up to something specific—a cold, a bad night of sleep or some other temporary issue. But what about when that off day turns into an off week? Or an off month? Or even an off year? We may start to wonder—with understandable anxiety—what ever happened to the person we used to be.

As an advisor, I've seen this phenomenon more than once with successful women clients who are in the midst of major life transitions. And very often, the explanation for their malaise is very clear: They're experiencing a very natural phenomenon known as transition fatigue.

The good news about transition fatigue is that it's temporary. It may last for a while, but it is a stage, and it will eventually pass. However, it's important to recognize and manage transition fatigue—especially because if we ignore it, we increase the likelihood of making poor decisions.

Experts think about major life transitions as occurring in three stages. The first stage is marked by an event that signals the end of your old "normal." In this stage, the way you lived or thought about your life and your future came to an end. The second stage of transition finds us on a passage to "what will be." This stage can unfold over several years before you reach the third stage, which is your "new normal."

The "passage" stage can be disorienting. You may find yourself procrastinating. You may sleep poorly. Your work may suffer. In general, you just may not feel like your old self. This may very well be transition fatigue. And if you're experiencing it, it's important to be patient and compassionate with yourself. You're in the midst of a life transformation, after all. It's big, but it's temporary.Now, during transitions, you'll often be faced with important decisions about thinks like money, family and work. Some of these decisions will have a long-term impact on your life. In this context, it's important to understand that transition fatigue can hamper your ability to make sound decisions.

If you're at all concerned about your ability to deal with momentous decisions, please understand first of all that our sense of urgency to act may be misplaced. You may feel a desire to make decisions in order to get an uncomfortable phase over with and move on. And well-meaning friends and family may urge you to be active and decisive if they perceive you to be struggling.

But most often, it's perfectly fine—not to mention that it's wise—to defer decisions until you are truly ready. At Northstar, we have the specialized training to support you during life transitions. We're experienced in the use of processes and procedures that help you step back and envision what you'd like your new life to look like and feel like. We help our clients find the perspective to make sound decisions—when they're fully prepared to do so.

If you think you may be experiencing transition fatigue, please understand that your situation is not unique. You have plenty of company among women who are navigating through sweeping life transitions. It's been happening for a long time. As always, please reach out to me if you'd like to discuss this topic further.

Written by Robin Young, CFP.

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