When Life Changes, How Does It Change You?

by Roger A. Shake, CFP®, RLP®, CeFT®                  March 2021


Have you ever been blindsided by a life event or by your feelings about it?

When I hear that question, my immediate thoughts go to the current pandemic and all the lives that have been impacted. However, there are life events that may be even more defining such as when a spouse or parent or child dies, or when you got divorced or retired, or when you sold your business. During these, were you confused and exhausted—even on your best days? Did you have a tough time making decisions or even getting up in the morning and carrying on with the ordinary activities of your day? And did you have times like that even years after the event actually occurred?

Major life events—even when we know they’re coming—are pivotal times in our lives. We might not have any control over their occurrence or the timing of their occurrence, but we do have control over much of what happens next. We can choose the way we respond to the event, the type of guidance and support we seek out, and way we integrate the event into our lives.

Do we let transitions define us, or do we use transitions as an opportunity to redefine ourselves? There’s so much going on inside us and around us when we move through transitions, and there are many things that can go wrong and just as many that can go right. As with other parts of our lives, the more we know about what we’re up against, the greater the opportunity we have to make the most of it and thrive.

I have been studying Financial Transition Planning for years with the Financial Transitionist Institute, a division of the Sudden Money Institute, and I’m always learning something new. Here are my top four observations about transitions:

  1. There is a structure to transitions. They are composed of four stages – Anticipation, Ending, Passages and New Normal. Each stage has unique difficulties and decisions associated with them. 
  2. Sometimes the best decision is no decision, and sometimes a decision must be made. There is no substitute for skillful guidance at those times.
  3. Each individual moves through the stages of transition in their own time and in their own way. Change takes years to adapt to, largely because it involves grieving. Whether we are talking about the loss of a person, a relationship, or a part of our identity, there is grief. And that grief needs to be honored.
  4. Most people want to move as quickly as possible through their transitions, but my advice is always to resist the urge to rush. When you hurry through whatever thoughts and feelings you have about an event and you don’t take the time to sit with them and process them, they don’t go away. At least not forever.

Life changes. How you let it change you is up to you.

If you are anticipating a transition or are already amid one, let a Certified Financial Transitionist (CeFT® ) help you take the next step in your journey.


  • Legacy Consulting Group is registered as an investment adviser with the SEC and only conducts business in states where it is properly registered or is excluded from registration requirements. Registration is not an endorsement of the firm by securities regulators and does not mean the adviser has achieved a specific level of skill or ability.
  • Information presented is believed to be current. It should not be viewed as personalized investment advice. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors on the date of publication and may change in response to market conditions. You should consult with a professional advisor before implementing any strategies discussed.
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