Transitions can be hard.
Some rites of passage, like marriage, come with a list of traditions that can help you process the event. Pick a venue, shop for rings, build a guest list, write your vows, send invitations, find a rabbi, priest, officiant? And that’s just a few of the options for structure.
But of course that list is really just party planning. It can obscure your focus from the real transition: entering into marriage! In fact, the preparation preparation for marriage can get crowded out by all the talk of the wedding.
What’s A Transition
Other transitions, like unexpected job loss, come with fewer traditional actions to take. There’s the meeting with HR, and then the call to your spouse or parent or friend to let them know what’s happened. And then what? How do you explain this one on Linked In? A loss of a job can come with a feeling of shame or embarrassment, which can make it more challenging to process.
This is a less structured and supported transition and one I help clients manage with great frequency in my coaching practice.
There are many transitions: the birth of a child, buying or selling a home, a friendship break up, the adoption of a pet, losing 30 pounds, retiring, changing religions, going back to school, beginning a job hunt, and more. Transitions tend to be planned (something that you initiated), unexpected (illness), or a general life phases changes (menopause! turning 50!).
At this time, we’re all in a collective transition: emerging from the pandemic.
Whether you’re immunized or not, the road back to a socialized life is different: Do I need a PCR test to go visit _____? Do I mask? There are strong opinions on all sides. Visiting your child at sleepaway camp has been canceled; you can’t take the trip for your brother’s 40th birthday event because you have covid, etc, etc. There’s less certainty and more uneasiness.
And right now, in my coaching practice many of my clients are craving anchors, the groundedness of a routine. Without safety, security and predictability in other areas of life, the unknown of transitions are that much harder.
Tools for Transition
As a transition coach, I’m always looking for tools, ideas, exercises and frameworks that can help my clients move through transitions. Recently I’ve been reading Life is In the Transitions by Bruce Feiler. We have rhythmic transitions, mostly marked by our parents and society until we’re about 18 (graduating from preschool! Elementary school! Bar mitzvah!). As adults, according to Feiler, we engage in a transition every 18 months. Or more.
Again, according to Feiler, in simpler days of yore we engaged in four to five big transitions as adults, now we’re engaging in thirty to forty.
So if life is seeming like a lot right now, it’s not you. It really is a lot.
How are you preparing to be in a continual state of change? Many are finding the twin pathologies of ADHD and anxiety are at the fore. See this article on “distractipression” for more on that.
For the rest of 2022, I’ll provide tools and ideas for navigating transitions in this newsletter and on my blog. For now, let’s start by identifying a transition you are in, recently coming from, or approaching.
What transition are you in?
If you’ve made it to this section, my guess it that you or someone you love is in transition. Can you name your transition category? Here are some popular ones:
- Partner? Romance?
- Have you experienced any personal or social losses recently? Friends? Family?
- Any health changes?
- Significant birthdays?
- New pet or family member?
- New personal achievement (triathlon, publishing a book, advanced degree?)
- New volunteer opportunity?
- Anything else?
My prediction is that when you review this list you will realize that you are in multiple concurrent transitions. In my next blog/newsletter, I will share ideas for how you can proactively mark these transitions.
If you are in transition and would like more support, please know that I am here for you. I am here to help make this time of transition transformative, powerful, celebratory, filled with humor and grace.
And not just because I’ve been there. Because I know how to be there.
Let’s do this.