Change happens all the time and we usually adjust and move on. Yet there are some changes that impact us significantly, both psychologically and emotionally. Those changes begin a transition.
Think back to the biggest changes in your professional or personal life. Did that big change you experienced start with an ending? My guess is it did because the biggest changes in life are really transitions. We think they are a change, but transitions always begin with a change, the ending of something. The more you loved, enjoyed, or were invested in whatever ended, the more significant the transition and the longer it takes to get through it. Transitions are like home remodeling projects; they always take longer and cost more than we expect.
There are many possible work-related transitions, e.g., job loss, the person who mentored you leaves organization, the CEO retires, your organization is sold, or merged, or it buys another company. In your personal life, we experience transitions too. A relationship ends, your health or a family member’s health may fail, or your child leaves for college.
I’ve learned three important lessons about navigating transitions, which I’ll share with you, to help you when you are faced with one. Transitions are:
- Life – Transitions are common in our lives and we should expect them. If you know something is going to happen, you will be more prepared and less surprised. The problem for most of us, myself too, is that we see life as linear. What does that mean, it means “if I do this, then this will happen” or, “if I don’t do this, then something bad won’t happen.” We expect life to move along smoothly, and it often does for long periods of time, until it doesn’t. I used to think those transitions were an anomaly, and something that could have been avoided. I was wrong. We will all have transitions; way more than we expect. Your best preparation is to accept they are part of life, know that they will happen and then you won’t be surprised and fight them.
- Revealing – When we go through a transition, we learn more about ourselves. We will experience emotions; some we knew about; some we’ve buried and others that surprise us. Emotions like fear and worry, a loss of identity, feeling like an imposter or a fake, despair and hopelessness. Many of these will be painful for us, but the journey isn’t all about pain. We learn how strong and adaptable we are, usually more than we imagined. We are proud of how we come through the process stronger and enriched.
- Preparing – Transitions are a time of training. We are being prepared for whatever is next, but when you’re in the middle, it’s often hard to see what it will be. Transition time should be used to explore new things, to consider changes or dreams you never considered or thought impossible. And, when you complete your transition, you will also be prepared to help someone else when they are in a transition.
The great news about going through a transition is that you are not alone. God is there with you, every step of the way to both help you and protect you.
Israel, the Lord who created you says, “Do not be afraid—I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you. Isaiah 43:1-2 (GNT)