woman in wheelchair smiling at laptop screen

Starting Fresh After Your Life Is Turned Upside Down

June is Rebuild Your Life Month. What does “rebuilding life” mean to you?

Although many people decide on their own to start fresh/look for a new job/revive old dreams, “rebuilding season” forces itself on many others. The trigger might be:

  • A disability diagnosis
  • A sudden accident or illness
  • The death of a family member, friend, or pet
  • Divorce
  • Losing a job
  • Losing a home to fire, flood, or foreclosure

Even positive major transitions—joining the military, getting married, having a baby, seeing an adult child “graduate” to independent living—are loaded with stressful adjustments; and however much you looked forward to the change, there will be grieving for “life as we knew it.”

Especially when a change was unexpected, processing the initial shock takes some days, weeks, even months if trauma is involved. Don’t try to rush through that stage. Your feelings need time to resolve themselves.

girl sitting at table with cup of coffee looking at phone


The resolution process is actually the first stage in the rebuilding process; and it doesn’t have to be passive. Navigating this period in a healthy manner includes recognizing what won’t change and what you can still control. Particularly, you’ll want to maintain some familiar routines (bedtime, meal hours, etc.), and perhaps establish some new ones for additional stability. And definitely save extra time for self-care. The first thing to rebuild is your personal energy and resilience.

Apps for self-care and routine:

From Walter Prescher, BridgingApps Digital Navigator:

  • “Working out is my best coping mechanism. Strava allows me to track my workouts and progress, while connecting with other users for accountability. [Important note: Human support is vital at every stage of rebuilding.]
  • “[Budgeting app] Mint is my one-stop shop for tracking finances. It takes a lot of stress out of the unknown, because I can see trends and adapt the budget for any dramatic changes.”

See also:


Once stabilized, consider the direction you now want to move in. Don’t just aim for “getting back to ‘normal.’” Take time to look at what you really want.

  • How could you make your “new normal” an improvement on the old?
  • What aspects of the “old life” were more burden than joy, and best not resumed at all?
  • For losses you genuinely mourn but can’t undo, look deep and ask yourself: Given my natural temperament and passions, just how serious is this loss? What might substitute or compensate? If something (or someone) is truly irreplaceable, what support could help me accept the loss and move on?
  • What have you long dreamed of doing, and never acted on? This may be the perfect time.

Apps for taking stock:


After completing your “rebuilding diagram,” make a list of 2–5 goals that will move you in the right direction. Consider:

  • How each goal relates to your long-term vision
  • Specific tasks you will perform to accomplish each goal
  • When each task will be done (mark them on a calendar)
  • Resources (including people) you will need
  • When and how you will connect with these resources
  • How long it should take to complete each goal (leave space for surprise delays)
  • What the final results will look like (be as specific as possible)

Apps for long-term planning:

Keep Going

Setting goals is often easier (and more fun) than starting them—and starting is nearly always easier than seeing them out. The road to every goal leads through stages that feel like a lot of hard work and no progress to show for it. The first secret of pushing through is to understand that that feeling is inevitable, but temporary. It also helps to:

  • Have a reliable accountability partner (or two or several). Knowing that someone is counting on you is often enough to drown the siren songs of “why not quit” and “you can always do it tomorrow.”
  • Boost your resilience by taking care of yourself in other ways. (If pursuing your goals interferes with getting adequate sleep or remembering your medication, you’ve probably been too ambitious. Reevaluate your goals.)
  • If you still can’t make yourself stick to a goal, there may be a psychological or medical condition behind your discouragement. Get evaluated by a doctor and a therapist.

Happy rebuilding!

Apps for keeping up the momentum:

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