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The skills you need to handle life’s transitions

May 11, 2022

I reached a milestone this week: I’m now the mother of an adult child. Each stage of parenting has brought its joys but these later ones have been my favourite. 

If I’m honest, bits of the early days were pretty tedious (shh, don’t tell the kids) but I’ve found the quick-fire banter with teenagers, debates about the world and how to run it better, having to renegotiate boundaries before I feel ready for them, exciting, challenging and enormous fun. 

I can’t wait for the next chapter because the job doesn’t stop here.

Setting expectations

We’ve recommended to our boys that on reaching 18 they consider themselves ‘apprentice adults’ and think of us as mentors for the next seven years as they learn the ropes of independence. 

Why? Because we’ve seen the pressure on young people turning 18 that they’ve suddenly got to think, feel and act like an adult and fear they won’t live up to the expectation. This is particularly hard for those already struggling with mental health, who find themselves cut adrift from children’s mental health support overnight and at the back of the queue in the adult system.

Learn to handle life’s transitions 

None of us make transitions that instantly: motherhood took me ages to get the hang of! We go through many such adjustments in our lives from moving house, taking a promotion and being made redundant to marriage, emptynests and losing loved ones. Some of these can be anticipated, some are welcomed, whilst others come unexpectedly or unwanted. 

They are all easier to navigate if we learn some skills to handle them. 

Number one is having realistic expectations of ourselves. It’s all too easy to beat yourself up for falling short of what you think you should know, feel or be able to do when the reality is you might not have learned those things yet. I frequently have to point out to coaching clients that they are holding themselves to much higher standards than they would ever hold someone else to! 

How to stay calm, confident and resilient 

The 6 week mental fitness programme I run helps you learn such skills so you can feel calm, confident and resilient whatever life throws at you. 

My latest group met virtually for the first time this week. A participant asked what changed for me when I started using the skills. I mentioned a few things – I don’t procrastinate like I used to, I focus more easily – and then the real answer came to me: I like myself more. I’ve accepted who I really am in my perfect imperfection and I LOVE me. 

Do you love you? I hope so. 

An invitation

There’s a wonderful exercise in week 5 of the programme that really shifted things for me. Come along to my next mental fitness introduction and I’ll tell you about it. I’ll also introduce you to the 10 saboteurs that hijack us and the exercises you can do to combat them. I’ll tell you more about the 6 week programme at the end but it’s not a hard sell, I don’t like that approach. I want to give you tools you can go back and start using right away to feel calmer and more productive.

These are great tools for parents too: when you understand what keeps you mentally fit you can teach your kids about it. You can help them spot their own saboteurs and show them how to be more loving and accepting of themselves. 

In fact, maybe that’s what this parenting journey is really about? Helping your children work out who they are and love themselves because of and despite it. Funny, it’s taken me 18 years to realise that.

About me

I’m Celia Clark. I’m a career development coach based in the dreaming spires of Oxford. I help you think clearly about your job, in all its ups and downs, so you can be happy and successful in your work.

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