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How to Navigate Through Life’s Major Transitions

With economic and personal financial worries becoming part of many individuals’ daily lives, dealing with a major life transition can become overwhelming.

Whether you have prepared for it, like getting married or having children, or it came unexpectedly, like a sudden illness, job loss or family member death, it is important to prepare emotionally and mentally in advance when possible. For some, the stress from these changes can be crippling and lead to a downward spiral of negativity that can impact professional and personal lives over time.

The first step to avoid the common pitfalls is to be aware of life’s five major transitions, which are:

  • Marriage/Having children
  • Changes in career (loss of job, retirement, etc.)
  • Mid-life crisis
  • Divorce or family death
  • Personal health issues

Almost all of us will experience a few of these during our lifetime, so being able to manage these situations in a healthy manner is crucial.

Napoleon Hill, one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century and author of all-time bestselling success book “Think and Grow Rich,” addressed how our mindset can make or break our ability to conquer life’s greatest challenges in his 1938 manuscript, “Outwitting the Devil.” The work was finally released this summer and provides insights on how each of us can overcome personal challenges.

One of the major reasons that individuals struggle so much with life’s transitions is they let fear control their thoughts, causing them to either get caught in a hypnotic rhythm or stall from moving forward. For example, a woman getting a divorce after 30 years of marriage can be paralyzed at the thought of having to be the sole income provider or manage her own finances. Instead of finding solutions to her fears, she could be in danger of letting that worry become completely consuming.

The key to overcoming fear is to commit yourself to be purposeful and successful in life, even with your emotional well being. Below are seven guidelines to squash fear and “outwit the devil” in your own life, no matter what life scenario you find yourself in:

1.     Definiteness of Purpose. When faced with a life transition, look deep within yourself to find what makes you passionate. Is it your career? Your family or children? By identifying your purpose in life and the things that fulfill you, it will be easier to move past major stressful situations and have confidence in knowing you can and will move forward.

2. Mastery Over Self. You may not be able to control outside stressors, but you can control your own mindset and physical well being. Stay away from addicting habits, like smoking, excessive drinking and unhealthy dietary habits. Maintaining your personal health goes hand in hand with maintaining your emotional and mental health.

3. Learn from Adversity. Every life transition provides a learning opportunity that can be so profound it changes your perspective on life after you have moved through it. For many individuals faced with adversity, they convince themselves that an experience is a huge failure rather than recognizing it may just be a temporary defeat. Although it may be difficult in the thick of a crisis, think about how it may help create fresh opportunities. We have seen hundreds of success stories of professionals who have lost their jobs and found after the shock wore off that it gave them the flexibility to become an entrepreneur, travel or try something they otherwise wouldn’t if they were still employed.

4. Controlling Environmental Influences. Stay away from negative presences and surround yourself with positive and friendly associations. This is often easier said than done, but when faced with a life-changing situation, it can make a huge difference in how you deal with your new life.  For example, a recently married man with dozens of single friends who don’t believe in marriage will influence him negatively if he does not have a strong sense of definiteness of purpose (sustaining a healthy marriage).  He could help control this situation by eliminating those negative influences and finding supportive, like-minded friends.

5. Time. Avoid reflecting on whatever changes may be happening in your life that are not in your control and focus on positive thinking and developing wisdom on how to deal with those changes. Spend your time and energy on creating a positive future. Hill writes, “People are not born with wisdom, but they are born with the capacity to think, and they may, through the lapse of time, think their way into wisdom.” By using our ability to think and analyze our experiences in life, whether successes or failures, we can gain wisdom.

6. Harmony– Act with definiteness of purpose to become the dominating influence in your own mental, spiritual and physical environment.

7. Caution. Think through your coping plan of action before you act. Especially if you are in a fragile emotional state, avoiding rash decisions will keep your stress level at a minimum. Remember, there is no such thing as “do-over.”

If you feel alone in your quest to banish fear from your life when preparing for potential high-stress situations, remember that Napoleon Hill faced a great amount of adversity before achieving his high level of success. Inspiration for “Outwitting the Devil” was a result of the adversity he faced and the rut he found himself in after several business failures and even a time when the mafia was looking to kill him. After fearing for his life for more than a year, he had an epiphany that pulled him out of his depression, which lead him to record his advice in “Outwitting the Devil.”

Remember the seven principles that Hill used to “outwit the devil” in his life, and you too will be prepared for whatever life changes come your way.  Armed with this seasoned wisdom, you will reach the success you so richly deserve!

Sharon Lechter is the annotator for Hill’s “Outwitting the Devil,” which was released in June 2011 and is available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble nationwide. This book outlines the factors that keep each of us from achieving our true purpose and offers seven principles to overcome fear and outwit the devil. Lechter is also the co-author of bestseller “Three Feet from Gold” and co-author of the international bestseller “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” For more information, visit www.outwittingthedevil.com or www.slechter.com.

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