How to Survive Your Life Transitions – A 2021 Update
"The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become." - Charles DuBos
Transition is the process of letting go of the way things used to be and then taking hold of the way they subsequently become. Sounds easy, but in reality, it is really hard letting go of the comfort of sameness.
Think about it: as we entered quarantine last March, it was hard to change how we did our everyday tasks, wear a mask, stay away from family and friends, etc. It was not easy. And now, as schools get back to the classroom and people return to in-person work, we are struggling to adjust again, to leave our cocoons and our homes, and to travel more than a few hours drive away.
We resist transition not because we can't accept the change, but because we can't accept letting go of that piece of ourselves that we have to give up when and because the situation has changed.
Although transitions are hard they are key times in the natural process of our growth and self-renewal.
Major transition is happening. And it has, and is, and will be happening to each of us. It cannot be avoided, so it is best to embrace it.
William Bridges' famous book "Transitions" offers three simple passages to help navigate transitions:
Endings. Every transition begins with an ending. These endings are not to be confused with finalities. We cannot say to ourselves "It is finished!" We need to recognize that an ending is actually a new beginning and every ending has one. This is where we "Let Go."
The Neutral Zone. This is a time when we feel emotionally disconnected and can't find that connection we once felt. This is normal. This is a time of reorientation and looking for a new beginning.
The New Beginning. We come to beginnings only at the end. It is at this time that we are ready to launch into something new for ourselves. We look for the signs and take action that point the way to our future and complete the transition process.
If you are feeling you are in a transition – personal or professional – right now, here are a few ideas to help you get and stay into action:
- Take your time. You cannot rush the process.
- Don't act for the sake of action. Transitions require that we bring a chapter of our lives to conclusion and that we discover whatever we need to learn for the next step we are going to take.
- Recognize why you are uncomfortable. Recognize the phases of transitions and identify where you are at: Denial; Resistance; Exploration; Commitment.
- Take care of yourself in little (or BIG) ways. Keep some comforts because it helps.
- Get someone to talk to. Find allies.
- Reflect and look back. Keep a journal if that works for you.
- Find out what is waiting in the wings of your life. Contemplate "what is waiting to happen in my life now?" Don't plan it out or try to figure it out, just start the inner conversation.
- Find a regular time and place to be alone. Spend time in quiet and meditation.
- Take this opportunity to discover what you really want.
- Take a few days to go on your own version of a 'Passage Journey'. Take time away from your everyday surroundings.
- Spend time in nature.
"When you can't see straight ahead, it's because you're about to turn a corner." - Myrtle Reed
Step into a leading role in your life. Don't wait. The World needs us to do this. We need this.
Photo credit: Justin Docanto