• Christine Roslund, LMFT, CPC

How Well Did You Take Stock of Your Empty Nest?

In my recent newsletter, I wrote about taking stock of your empty nest (read it here if you missed it or haven’t yet subscribed to the Launch Coach Newsletter). In it, I ask: How did you fare emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually after your kids left home? Were you feeling stronger in the emotional or physical domains, and weaker in the mental and spiritual domains? Was it the other way around, or a mixture of stronger and weaker in one domain? It’s all okay. However you scored, asking the questions – taking stock – is an important exercise that can help you see where you’re at and where you could use a little support.

In scoring your overall Taking Stock questions, I recommend rating each answer either with a (S) Strong, (N) Neutral, or (W) Weak. Tally them up to see where you’re at, by category and overall. Then look at which categories (emotional, physical, mental or spiritual) where you are stronger and weaker in. This helps you determine which areas you need to focus on and where new tools and skills might help.

In the list of questions under the Mental domain, you are asked to list some positives and negatives. Ask yourself whether it was easy or hard to come up with the answers, then mark them with the appropriate (S), (N), or (W). If you score (W) weak or (N) neutral in most of the questions and categories, this indicates you may benefit from some extra support from a professional therapist, certified life coach or support group. Any one of these will help you develop new coping skills, life skills and practices that can shift your life into a better place.

Your scores in these areas is important information. They tell you how well, or not, you’re faring in that particular domain. Using that information, you can focus on improving that area of your life. You can start focusing on areas you may not have realized were bothering you, and start moving in a direction that will make you feel better.

For example, let’s consider the question, “What am I feeling about being in my empty nest?” If you answered, “grateful and free”, you’re probably adjusting well. You’re emotionally taking in some of the positive aspects of this new phase of life and are feeling emotionally strong. I would give this an (S) for ‘feeling strong’. If you answered “lost, afraid and uncertain”, you’re likely dealing with some difficult feelings. This would be scored as either a (N) for neutral or (W) for weak, depending on what you feel it should be.

These feelings should not be judged or compared to others. It’s common to have complex feelings during this often difficult life transition. However, as time goes on, these feelings should lift and shift to a place that allows you to adjust and transition into your new life and gain emotional strength. If you don’t feel this is happening, you may want to consider professional support to help you get unstuck, process what’s blocking you and move towards creating a life you feel good about. This support could be a psychotherapist or a personal life coach who works with you one-on-one.

If you scored Strong in many of these areas and feel like you have a good vision of how to move forward in your new life, congratulations! You’ve accomplished a huge life goal – perhaps one of the biggest: launching your young adults! Now it’s time for you to reap the rewards by focusing on YOU for a change! I hope you make this time in your life one that you love, enjoy and find very meaningful!

The most important thing to remember here is that wherever you are in this process, you should have control over how your new phase of life is being shaped. It takes courage to stand in that place within yourself and take the controls you have and steer your life in the direction of your desires. What will you do to make this new phase of your life stand out and be a time that you cherish?

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