I’ve been thinking about life-changing moments for a while now. I work with women who are going through those moments that turn their world upside down, and they are profoundly changed. I’ve been through those times myself.
As I thought about those times that changed my life, I realized that they also changed my perspective. Some happened when I was younger, and they made me feel like I was leaving my younger self behind. I was moving into adulthood, never to return.
Many of those life-changing moments happened in my adult years, and I was reminded that I had a choice to respond with the maturity of my years or to revert to acting like a child. I’m sure I am not alone. We all have times like that.
What are your life-changing moments? When has something occurred that made you realize there was no turning back? Perhaps something happened and you wanted to duck and take cover, but instead, you chose to face it head-on. What did you learn?
Here are some of those life-changing moments from my life, which revealed something powerful and influenced my perspective as I matured. Can you relate to any of these?
- Learning about creativity while imagining pictures in the clouds. As a teenager, my family had a small vacation cottage on a lake in New Hampshire. I would spend hours alone lying face up on the boat dock, while the boys went out fishing. I imagined all kinds of things for my life as I recognized hearts and birds and teddy bears in the white puffy clouds. As I remember that now, I try to channel that creativity as I make adult choices.
- Graduating from high school. One of the many rights of passage into adulthood. Many of us felt pressure to grow up fast.
- Driving alone for the first time. Was it as scary for you as it was for me? The sense of responsibility I felt to be aware of everything else around me made me feel very grown up.
- Moving from my family’s home. I was 18 and moved into my own apartment close to the college campus. All my decisions were mine. I hoped they were good ones. I’m sure my family hoped for the same.
- Falling in love. A sweet time for many of us, myself included. Taking the next step isn’t for the faint of heart.
- Getting married. No longer an “I” because we’re now a “we.” Making decisions together takes practice and patience. Learning to discuss rather than argue, and compromise rather than serve up ultimatums is a test of adulthood, for sure.
- Taking responsibility of a first pet. Adopting an innocent creature can be a major undertaking. I loved the nurturing and mothering part but had to be reminded about the timing for potty breaks. Adult-sized messes to clean up were no fun. Then I got the hang of it.
- Having children. I have no first-hand experience with this one, but I’ve witnessed the life-changing moments in the lives of my brothers, nephews, nieces, step-daughter, friends, and clients. This is one of the big ones for everyone—life is just never the same again. Talk about a new perspective and new priorities!
- Divorce. The end of a marriage can turn more than the couple intimately involved upside down. This affects family and friends, too. How we respond to this life changer matters a lot—we could be victim or victor, adult or child.
- Witnessing a historical event that affects everyone. I think every generation has at least one of these in their lifetimes. These events are indelibly etched in our memories. We recall exactly where we were, who we were with, and what we did for days afterward. I think about the day President Kennedy was shot in Dallas, the day the Challenger crew perished, September 11th. Life- changing moments for everyone.
- Having an adult conversation with mom. Do you remember the first time this happened for you? I do. I recall vividly. For the first time, I realized we were talking like equals. We were two adults who loved each other dearly and were mother and daughter evolving to become friends.
- Moving across the country, away from all friends and family. This can turn someone into an adult real fast. Your support system is gone. You need new people in your network, and you don’t know who can help until you start to reach out. When I made the move from Connecticut to Arizona, I loved the destination, but I felt like a fish out of water (and, since there is little water in Arizona, I mean that literally). This one can take some time to adjust since new relationships need to be created and nurtured.
- The birth of a grand-baby. This life-changing moment is epic! Just ask any grandparent you know. My niece is like a daughter to me, so when she had her baby it was just like having a granddaughter. The pure joy. It changes priorities about how to spend my time and with whom. It causes me to think differently about I show up for her. Think “role model.”
- Layoff from a corporate career. What’s next? Who will hire me? Where’s the next paycheck coming from? What about insurance coverage? A litany of worries can follow this one. It’s time to put on the big-girl panties.
- Starting a business. For those who never thought this was an option, especially if you’ve worked for someone else all your adult life, this could be both exciting and terrifying. There is no time to pussy-foot around the mega responsibilities that come with owning your own business.
- The last family reunion, the way it used to be. This was an emotional, life-changing moment for me—especially as the reunion week drew to a close. I knew I may never see my older brother again due to his illness. I knew that my husband’s health was in such a state that we may never be able to host the family at our home again. Big changes. Huge emotions. Hard to let go.
- Losing parents, siblings or a child. I’m not sure much more needs to be said about how immense the impact of any or all of these can be on a heart and soul.
- Children and grandbaby moving away. I wanted to cry like a baby myself—not my most adult moment. It was life-affirming and heart-wrenching at the same time. As I was feeling elated at the wonderful opportunity for them and heart-broken at the loss of seeing them each week, I had to find the blessing and lean on that.
- Experiencing momentum in my business. This can be scary if you’re not quite prepared for it. Stepping into the role of CEO and managing growth requires a clear vision and a plan of action that keep you moving forward. No time to stick your head in the sand.
- Believing that you are loved for who you are. This one is immensely personal and requires constant self-reflection—and belief. Be you and the adult in you will always show up.
There are so many more life-changing moments I could have written about. They were blips on the screen of life yet, at the time they were quite profound. There were acts of courage and moments of pure bliss. A spontaneous moment with a friend. Quiet time alone at the beach. Experiencing disappointment. Getting my first paycheck. Opening my first savings account. Making someone’s dream come true.
What life-changing moments have you experienced that shifted your perspective and allowed you to step into the role of the adult in your life? I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to share those life-changing moments in the comments below.
María Tomás-Keegan is a certified Career and Life Coach for Women, and founder of Transition & Thrive with María. When life-changing moments flip the world upside down, she guides women to turn chaos into calm, so they can clear their heads, become resilient and learn to live a life guided by their own values and vision. If you’re ready to explore new possibilities with an open heart, get 5 Simple Choices to Get You Back on Track now.