Summertime, 2005

A Change without Time for Transition

In a heartbeat the weather changed from a cool, rainy spring to a humid and ferociously hot summer. We experienced a change-without a transition! It’s a startling experience-a shock to the system!

In reality we all experience changes in our professional and personal lives. The question becomes: How do we manage the change, do we make the time for the transition that will facilitate incorporating the change?

When is the last time you created the time and space to explore a change you were about to experience? Whether it was a change in: your place of work-a new position or new responsibilities, a change of career, a move to another home or new area, your impending retirement or in your personal life (health status, family constellation and/or relationships), what did you think about and how did you feel moving from the way things were to the way things were going to be?

Take a moment to name several changes in your life over the past year. Now reflect on the time and energy you devoted to exploring your thoughts and feelings about each of those changes. What have you discovered about your relationship with change?

Guideposts for the Winding Road through Change and Transition

1. Address the personal side of change -> transition.

Reflect on the personal meaning of the change(s) you are about to experience. What chapter of your life is coming to a close? How do you feel about it, what emotions does the ending process call up for you: sadness, confusion, excitement, anticipation, and/or ambivalence?

2. Reflect on your style of bringing circumstances, events and/or relationships to a conclusion.

Where do you fall on the spectrum of possibilities: Do you plan carefully for change so that it is so gradual that it’s almost imperceptible, do you deny its impact, or do you fall in-between these two extremes? Do you fear that real change in your life will destroy the ways that you have learned to understand who you are and what you need? Have you made the time and effort to recognize the factors in your past behaviors that might undermine your resolve or cast doubt on your plans? What do you want to do about what you have discovered about yourself? Are you moving forward as you desire?

3. Identify where you are in the process of moving from current experience to new way of being.

Are you beginning a process of closure; do you feel lost in the middle between ending and beginning? Have you finished with “ending” and are you searching for what will be at the “beginning of the beginning”? How are you feeling?

Examine how the nature of the change-whether it is your choice or an inevitability-affects your response to it.

4. Celebrate and let go of/release the old ways of being.

Create the time and space to reflect on your ways of being: our identities are built upon the elements of our lives-our roles and relationships. How will your definition of yourself change with the new events or circumstances in your life?

5. Develop your own rites of passage or rituals for times of transition.

Find ways to get comfortable with the sense of disequilibrium of being between the old way and the new. Make the time and space to be alone and work through your thoughts and feelings. Explore the ambiguity in letting go of familiar ways of being and embracing new and different behaviors. Recognize and meet your needs for nourishment – of your body, mind and soul – as transitions take their toll mentally, interpersonally and physically.

6. Be kind to yourself (and those around you) as you face this time of inner reorientation and self-definition.

Look for the adaptive ways you have faced changes in the past to support you in each and every transition process in the future. Reach out to family, friends or a coach for support in periods of transition.

In essence

Create a space/sanctuary for being with your new thoughts and feelings.

Delve into your style of creating closure and making beginnings. Are you a planner or do you spontaneously fall into the new and different?

Describe the process of transition-so that you have a way of talking about your experience. Transitions are a time of renewal and transformation.

Revel in your new identity-as it is a melding of the new with the old.

If you haven’t experienced a personal or professional change – are you holding back?

  • What are your work and personal contexts right now?
  • What no longer fits the life you are living?
  • What is it time for you to let go of in your own life?
  • What do you really want?
What is as yet unlived in your life?
  • What talents and dreams remain unexplored?
  • What is waiting to come forward in your life right now?
  • What might your next step look like?
  • How do you want to handle your transition?

“The first task of transition is unlearning, not learning anew.”

(Bridges, 1993)

Relevant Resources from My Bookshelves

Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Mutant Message Down Under by Marla Morgan

Now What? by Laura Berman Fortgang

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