Transition, the process of change which occurs when shifting from one situation to another, can be challenging. Most of us are able to navigate minor, expected transitions without too much effort. For example, shifting gears from the weekend to Monday morning and the routine of work, or from winter to spring and the change in weather. However, other, more significant transitions can require more skill to address: A new job (or lack thereof), the loss or addition of a new family member, a diagnosis, retirement, or moving to a new city are all examples of important changes in one's life. In my work as a professional coach and consultant I provide my clients with tools to assist them in the perceptions, interpretations, and decisions they make while in transition. Although certainly not an exhaustive list, I offer these three general strategies to help you in your own journey:
1) Let Go of Whatever Needs to be Released
At its core, transition is the bridge that connects the gap between what is old and what is new. We naturally remember, identify with, and have a connection with the familiar. For instance, you are moving away from life as a single person toward a new life as a married spouse (or vise-versa). You can relate to being single, because you lived that lifestyle for many years. The wedding ceremony provides a dramatic event by which you leave the realm of a single and instantly transports you into the realm of a husband or wife. Along with that new role comes new opportunities, responsibilities, challenges, and experiences. Everything is different! It is not uncommon for a person to think about how much has changed, and to compare life now to what it used to be. However, the transition is generally a bit smoother if the individual is able to leave that previous life in the past in order to walk forward into the new life he or she has chosen to begin. As a professional coach and consultant, I have many tools I teach my clients to use that help them to accomplish this.
2) Embrace Disorientation
Let's face it, that sense of feeling lost, confused, or both is not particularly enjoyable. In fact, it can be quite paralyzing. Why? I believe it is because we inherently want to experience a semblance of control in our lives. An internal locus of control allows us to mold the narrative into, "This is what I am doing" rather than, "This is what is being done to me". Of course, there is a tremendous difference between the two. When we feel as though we are somehow being prevented from charting our own course or don't know what course to chart, an uncomfortable disequilibrium is created. Fighting against that disorientation usually makes it worse. Instead, I advise my clients to remind themselves this current state is only temporary and there is actually a great deal to be learned during this time. Additionally, I encourage them to ride it out because it is precisely because of and during this confusing phase that one can later experience meaningful growth, which leads us to the third strategy...
3) Utilize Change as a Catalyst for Growth
Often, navigating change becomes more difficult as we age. We become more naturally set in our ways and, over time, tend to trade novelty for predictability. Change is inevitable. It is sometimes easy to forget that the process of change is not an obstacle to growth, it is the pathway to growth. I think one of my college professors put it best when she said, "Change only takes place when you are out of your comfort zone". How true that is! Personal growth doesn't occur when times are easy. The hard work of becoming, adapting, and changing happens when we are struggling. It happens when we are off-balance and asking ourselves, "Can I do this? Will I be able to hang on long enough to get to the point where I have 'arrived'?". Of course, reaching the destination is not the end, but a new beginning in the next change that unfolds. That is precisely why learning new skills to promote growth through the cycle of change is so valuable, because those skills can be applied toward other situations too.
Are you currently in transition? If so, you are not alone and do not need to experience it in isolation. Why not avail yourself of a trained professional to help guide you through it? If you are looking for help in navigating your personal and/or professional transitions with an experienced, certificated coach I invite you to contact me for a complimentary 30-minute design session.
Chuck Sheron, AELC
Reimagine Success Coaching, LLC