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Some Truths about Transitions

December 19, 2017


As a coach and trainer, I have worked with transitions for over 30 years. And I’ve learned a great deal about the challenges, mysteries, and wisdom of life-shaking transitions.
 
A transition is how you respond to any change that significantly affects a role, situation or life view. Here are some truths to keep in mind during your own transitions.
 
  • Every type of transition unfolds in three phases. You start by moving away from the old chapter. Then, emotionally speaking, you wander between the old chapter and the new one. When you are ready, you reconstruct the pieces of your life and move into the new chapter.
  • Whether it is a change in health, finances, family relations, a career, or where you live, only you can determine the intensity and the meaning of each transition. Only you can determine how long this will take, even though well-meaning friends and family may want to push you to “get on with it.”
  • Some loss occurs in every important transition, even ones you have been looking forward to, like becoming a grandparent or retiring to a warmer climate. You have to let go of things (maybe the beloved old house, a relationship, an old job and co-workers, or some outdated life view.) Keep in mind, however, that you also take some things into the next chapter—for example, values, skills, family support, and faith.
  • Somewhere in the middle of the emotional journey of transition, it is normal to feel lost, stuck, fearful, excited, and creative—maybe all mixed together. This is the time to be patient with yourself.  It is a time to take stock of your world, to look at your strengths and supports. Consider a “transition team” of friends, professionals, and family who can encourage you to see new possibilities. Since the old way is dissolving, what are some new possibilities?
  • Eventually you are looking forward more than backward. You are ready to accept the new way, to set some small goals, such as taking a class, sharpening your skills, joining a club, enjoying a hobby, finding friendships in a new location. If you write such goals down, you are more apt to achieve them. Simple planning and structure  help you grow into the new way of living or working.
  • Writing is a powerful tool to help you navigate transitions. I have seen repeatedly that people who write during transitions (and after) find more wisdom and growth in their journey.
 
If you are feeling overwhelmed, write lists of feelings, losses, or new ideas. Or short writes of five minutes on a regular basis. You can free write around prompts like “What am I feeling?”  “What new thoughts and possibilities have occurred to me?” You can claim power over your new chapter by writing your future story. It is one year from today. What have you accomplished, what goals have you realized? 

Save and date all your writing. Long after you have made the transition, you can review your writing to affirm how you made this journey, finding clues and patterns you did not see before, and distilling the deeper meaning of the transitions.
 
And you will have a permanent record of how you grew from yet another life transition.
 
Leia Francisco, M.A., is a CCE Board Certified Coach and faculty member with the Therapeutic Writing Institute. Her signature program, Writing through Transitionstm, includes her book Writing Through Transitions, WTT online classes and a self-paced certification program for those who want to help others manage transitions. See Leia’s website at http://leiafrancisco.com or contact her at lfrancisco@stx.rr.com .