Action Plan Creation: Self-Care Strategy #5

 In Nurture Yourself, Wander Inside, Weekly Wonder For You

Create Your Transition Action Plan:

Actions Steps Lead to Stronger Transition Management

When it comes to an action plan, especially in times of a life transition, we often falter. Maybe we hibernate and binge-watch TV, or spend hours on social media. Or, we develop more self-destructive, self-numbing habits. It’s as if our motivation has been erased. Yes, we are taking action just not the kind that helps us move towards realizing our new beginning.

To be clear, there is a time in a transition to truly cocoon away from everyone and everything. It’s normal to lose motivation, interest in others, and even in yourself. Your transition benefits from time to rest, reflect, mourn, grieve, to allow the pain to escape in sobs or even a good healthy rant.

But there comes a point in all phases of a transition, when the pain lessens. When this shift happens, creating an Transition Action Plan as part of your Self-Care Strategy can introduce you to what’s possible. You can even think of it as a dress rehearsal for your New Beginning. What follows are some tips to wildly imagine your Transition Action Plan.

First, permission to create new patterns in your life.

Setting a few simple, short-term action steps can provide you encouragement, feedback and a sense of bring control back into your life. It’s like goal-setting. But some of us need to know it’s OK to do this.

Mary Languirand, a psychologist, co-authored How to Age in Place, with her husband, Robert Bornstein, says:

Some people know exactly what they want to do, and where, and with whom. Others — often those who had to devote a lot of time and effort to responsibilities and duties that didn’t necessarily make them happy — need time and ‘permission’ to break old habits and create new patterns. ~ USA Today, May 23, 2015.

Though Languirand is specifically talking about retirement, her advice works for any transition, whether the empty nest, job change, a new spouse/partner, or a move from one home to another. Regardless, you now have permission to create an action plan, one that can help you discover what you want to do, for whom, and with whom. And you have permission to imagine it wildly!

Journaling helps you discover options for your Action Plan.

You know your transition better than anyone else. So spending time brainstorming for in your journal can result in greater clarity on your specific circumstances and some good action plan options. You don’t have to actually do any of them. But until you know what your options are, you’ll struggle to create a solid Action Plan.

Below are some journaling suggestions to get your started. Feel free to use which ones work for you in your transition, or create your own prompts. I suggest setting a timer for just 5 minutes to brainstorm in your journal a few lists. Let your imagination go! Nothing is off limits.

  • What action steps can I take to manage my transitions?
  • What would I want to do in the next week?
  • What do I need to do in the next week?
  • What have I always wanted to do but never could?
  • Are there necessary appointments to schedule with financial, medical, job interview or other professionals now?
  • Is there a new hobby I’d like to learn more about? How would I do that?
  • What feels like fun for me?
  • What don’t I want to do?
  • Would I like to volunteer? If so, what would I like to be doing? What are the organizations I would like volunteer with?

Next, dive a bit deeper into how you feel about these new possible action steps.

  • Choose one item from your list of things you’ve always wanted to do, whether it’s volunteering, starting a new class or a new hobby, or feels like fun. Write that down on a new page in your journal. Next:
    • Write “When I think about doing this, I…..”
    • Continue with a few additional options on your list using the same prompt.
    • Spend a few moments and read through your writing. What are you discovering about possible action steps? Are there a few really resonate? It’s OK if some don’t.

Prioritize the Action Plan

Once you have a few ideas (wild and otherwise), give them priority. For some women, this might mean simply writing the action steps down on the kitchen calendar, like a concert here or a class there, an appointment next month. For others, prioritizing means treating ourselves to a new planner, or scheduling it into our phones digitally with an alert 30 minutes before it happens. Whatever your preference, the key to prioritize is it to get it scheduled. I know all too well in my own life that if left unscheduled and not written down, it just doesn’t happen. Find a system that works for you.

Do what you plan.

All the journaling and time invested into discovering what a few action steps might be is a great start. Putting the dates on the calendar lends it priority. Yet, we still have to actually do what we plan.

And sometimes that’s the scariest piece of all. We can journal, prioritize the dates, and still we fail to actually get in the car or on the subway. Maybe we fret that we might not like it, or we might “fail” at what we’re attempting to do. New fears surface, or the “usuals” return. Know this reluctance is part of the transition process, too. Acknowledge the fear, but still move forward.

Doing an action plan is an act of bravery and vulnerability.

Yet there’s no other way to discover anything new, to test out what might work for us while learning what doesn’t.

We discover the true possibilities by doing—trying out new activities, reaching out to new groups, finding new role models, and reworking our story as we tell it to those around us. ~ Organizational-behavior scholar Herminia Ibarra, Working Identity

Once created, your Transition Action Plan becomes part of your collection of Self-Care Strategies.  Just like all the other self-care options, this one requires your willingness to “do” it, always the awareness that if it’s not working, you are free to change it up.

And… you are also free to discover true possibilities for your present and future self.

Here’s to your Transition Action Plan, one that just might lead you across the in-between transition stage and into a new beginning.

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This ends my series on Transition Self-Care Strategies. You can read more about how to care for yourself during a transition below. Sharing with a friend in a life transition is deeply appreciated. Thank you!

Read more here on Transition Self-Care Strategies, including:

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