TRANSITIONS AND HOW THEY WORK - AN OVERVIEW
the simplest terms, transition is change. Transitions are all
around us in the day to day world and so it is with our lives.
transitions can be predictable such as a child leaving for university
, marriage, a new job, or retirement. They can also be unpredictable,
such as the death of a loved one, a traumatic accident, divorce
or addictions. Whatever the degree or intensity of the event,
every transition we experience has one thing in common, it forces
us to make changes to our existing life.
major life transition literally closes one chapter of our life,
and starts a new unfamiliar one, which can create doubt, fear,
anxiety, depression, addictions and a lot of emotional turmoil.
life transitions occur because we find ourselves in a rut. We
may have a feeling that something is wrong, although we can't
quite put our finger on the reasons. Our lives are not going the
way we thought they would and time is passing us by. We feel that
it is time for a change.
can happen at any point in life and lead us to self-reflection
or an assessment of what we really want out of life, leading us
to look at new goals. This is when we embark on a journey of new
priorities and a sense of a renewed future.
wait, transitions don't always have to relate to loss or other
negative traits. Scholarly works and my own professional experience
over the last thirty five years as well as my own transitionary
phases show how they often borne out of achievement and then embracing
a realisation of what we discover we can do.
parents experience of life often projects on to us restrictive
views of the future and then we reach a point in our lives where
we realise that our life outstripped the restrictions placed on
us by our parents. A transition can be exciting such as in our
career when we step to the next challenge.
transitions, difficult and challenging as they can be, afford
us the opportunity to find our true inner direction and engage
in the process of both self-renewal and connecting with the unique
individual we really are in this OUR LIFE.
Transitions can include:
of a loved one
Divorce or estrangement
Loss of a job/career
Birth of a child
Physical or psychological illness
youve defined your purpose and identified some goals and
projects based on that purpose, most likely youll find that
youll have to move in a very different direction. You may
have been trekking down your current path for years, and now youve
set a whole new direction. Its possible that almost every
part of your life will have to change your health habits,
social relationships, work/career, and even your day to day life.
is greatly reduced whenever you turn a corner in life, so the
first thing you can expect when you change directions is that
youll experience a tremendous lack of clarity.
youre driving a car through a busy city area. You may be
able to clearly see the road for many blocks ahead of you. But
if youre about to make a turn, you may not be able to see
more than a few yards around the corner as you approach it. Your
view is blocked by obstacles, and if its a road youve
never been down before, you wont quite know what to expect.
However, once youve completed most of the turn, you will
again be able to see further down the road in your new direction.
is much the same way. Your ability to see what lies ahead will
be very limited as you shift directions, but as you complete the
turn, clarity will once again return.
experienced this when I shifted my career earlier this year in
2013 from full-time chairman of a medical company to full-time
writing, recording, speaking at and creating seminars. Before
I committed to the transition, I had only a fuzzy idea of what
the next stage of my professional career would be like. No matter
how much planning I did, it was still fuzzy there were
simply too many variables I couldnt predict. I was out of
my familiar identity and role in life.
I began to transition, almost every week I had to rethink my plans
long-term planning was impossible because I was constantly
learning new things that would corrupt my previous plans created
the week before. I had to live one day at a time through much
of it. But after a few months, I was able to get my bearings and
could see the road ahead of me very clearly. Then I was able to
again set long-term goals with confidence.
you make a big transition in your life, take your time. You dont
have to change every area of your life simultaneously within the
next 30 days. Changing too many things at once can be stressful,
so take steps to manage the stress by keeping some parts of your
life stable as you change others. If you turn a corner too fast,
youll flip your car or spin out of control. But even if
you take the turn gradually, youll still feel a force pulling
you to the side. This comes from your ego and old identity.
have to maintain your grip on the wheel and keep control as you
change directions. Once youve completed the turn, then you
can relax and loosen up a bit your new momentum will carry
the past year, I had go through the lengthy and complicated process
of closing an international company, sort out future finances
(along with the side effects of taking on board a new identity
in my fifties) and embrace a whole new direction. And then theres
all the personal development work I did, which caused me to experience
many personal changes during this time, including changes in long-term
was a lot of change, and if I would have tried to do it all at
once, it would have been overwhelming. But by splitting it up
and spreading it out over many months, it became manageable.
Im operating outside my comfort zone in at least one area
of my life (but not all areas), and I find that the more I do
this, the more simultaneous change Im able to tolerate.
habits which can be helpful. HERE
Your Environment for Change
easy step you can take in beginning your transition is to prepare
your environment to help reinforce your new goals. Most likely
your environment reflects your current identity, so if you want
to change your identity, you can start by changing your environment.
For example, one of the first things I did when transitioning
from being chairman of a company to writing, recording and speaking
was to reorganise my office. I asked myself, What kind of
office would a professional speaker/writer have, and how would
it be different from that of a company chairman and technical
director? I made a list of changes and then implemented
them quickly. I removed all my programming books, sorted out my
wardrobe, etc. I realised that I would be on the road more travelling
and so I scanned important documents and then to create space
made an additional back up and threw the paperwork away. I even
took all of my CD's and laboriously copied them to the computers
so I had music on the move.
I had a new identity to embrace but initially this created a void
to be filled with the trappings of my new career. Essentially
I had to take on board that new identity. I had to overcome dumbing
down that I was an international author and feel comfortable with
people asking questions or asking me to sign books - the list
did this clearing process earlier this year, and now that void
is filled. My files are full of past seminars which date back
to 1989 along with new reference material. My bookshelf holds
new books on internet conference calls, website design and writing.
I have a shelf with a half-dozen photographs of previous and recent
events along with a picture of an elder tribesman in Africa holding
a copy of my latest book!. So every time I walk into my office,
it reinforces my identity as a speaker/writer.
With Social Resistance
from the things in your environment, you also have to deal with
the people who are in your life be they colleagues, friends, family
and of course the critical parent seated firmly inside your head.
Many readers have told me that social resistance is a big problem
for them. They make a plan to change their lives, and then their
friends or family talk them out of it.
need to trust your own judgment more than the opinions of others.
Even if you turn out to be wrong, youll learn more about
yourself in the process and will be able to make better decisions
in the future.
people fear change, and your attempt to change your life for the
better can be perceived by others as a threat. Ask yourself which
of your friends will be able to handle the new you once youve
completed the transition? Will you still be able to be friends
after the change? Close, genuine friendships can handle such a
transition. But many casual friendships and associations cannot.
same goes for other relationships. Many relationships do not survive
such a change. But what kind of relationship did you have anyway
if making a change to better your life results in a breakup? It
just means the relationship was based on something impermanent.
better off making the change and seeing if your relationship is
strong enough to handle it than using the relationship as an excuse
for staying put. A good relationship should help you grow, not
hold you back, and theres nothing wrong with temporary relationships.
A breakup is not the end of the world. People do it every day
and live to talk about it.
I transitioned to building a personal development business, a
lot of casual friendships were broken. Such people reacted to
my change as if it was a personal affront. I expected this though,
so it didn't slow me down. I went through the same thing when
I first left the NHS to go into private practice and then, ten
years later, become an international speaker and then in 2005
when I started my medical company. OK practice may make certain
aspects easier but emotionally these powerful changes bring a
whole host of powerful feelings which need to be embraced.
you make a big change in your life, you can expect social resistance
regardless of the nature of the change. Social resistance is ubiquitous
dont take it as a sign that youre doing anything wrong.
Use your own intelligence to work out if youre on the right
path. No matter how right your decision is, there will be people
to tell you youre wrong and that youre making a big
mistake. Just allow those people to be upset, and be on your merry
way. Dont take it personally. Most of all, dont argue
with them youre just wasting your breath. Focus on
taking action, and let them adjust if they can.
believe the best way to confront social resistance is by counteracting
it with social harmony. Get involved with a new social group that
will mitigate the effects of your old group. Develop new friendships
in harmony with your new self-image.
recommend you do this as early as possible, before you break off
any old relationships that cant handle the transition. Start
spending more time with your new reference group than your old
one. Your new group will help pull you in the direction you want
to go, which will automatically loosen the bonds with your old
group. Youll naturally enjoy spending more time with people
who are encouraging you and less time with those who are discouraging
me this involved joining writing groups through MeetUp and spending
time with my journalist friends here in London. I also now work
with younger people active in the psychospiritual and a few days
ago held a talk and discussion at The Mystery Chest where like
minded people gathered to talk from a broader perspective.
my talk I felt aligned, affirmed and refreshed at so many levels.
"Why did I ever leave this work?" I asked myself later.
Over the period of the last few months, I have built a new social
circle starting with those focusing on psychospiritual elements
of life and gradually branching outward, and my old reference
group gradually faded as I spent less and less time in their midst.
few old friendships were able to endure this transition with me.
Some people that knew me for years were able to accept my new
identity, so we still keep in touch, but the nature of these friendships
has changed. I think the best friendships are those that can stand
the test of time, where the friendship is based more on who you
are than on what you do or what you have.
you consciously undergo a major life transition, be patient with
yourself. When you meet with environmental or social resistance,
take steps to reduce or minimise the resistance instead of struggling
that clarity will be reduced as you turn the corner, but know
that it will return as youre speeding off in a new direction.
Managing a major life transition is a lot of work, but youll
come out the other side in a much better position. The long-term
gain is well-worth the short-term pain.