Times of transition happen throughout our lives. It can happen whenever change occurs. However, change and transition are not the same. Change is situational and external. Transition is internal. It is the psychological process you go through to come to terms with the new situation.
You may be in a time of transition in your personal or professional life. The stages in a transition can be thought of as being similar to running a race, especially if it is a marathon – not a sprint. It is as if you have entered a new race in which you are striving to redefine normal.
Preparing for a marathon requires different skills than preparing for a sprint. We can learn something by applying what happens in each of the three stages of a transition: Ending, Middle and New Beginning. You may find yourself at different stages and moving through a transition at different speeds, similar to running a marathon.
Stage 1 – Ending. Endings can shake your belief that life is predictable, fair and controllable. They may mean unlearning ways of doing things that are familiar. The world may feel like it is no longer a benign place. When running a marathon, this is a time you change your behavior to make time to prepare for the race. Old routines change to make time for training to get fit.
Action Step: Find time to train or practice even though you might like to just put on your running shoes and go. Identify your losses, such as old ways of thinking, acting and routines to get in condition. How do you need to think and act differently?
Stage 2 – Middle. There is little that feels comfortable or clear during this stage. Feelings of confusion can cause doubt and anxiety. Likewise, in the middle of a marathon, it is easy to lose concentration and energy. Yet, this is a time of creativity, opportunity and development. There is a need for direction and answers to help you with the reorientation that is taking place. It has been described as the winter before the spring.
Action Step: Build in structure. It helps provide strength. Realistic, short-range goals and check-points along the way help decrease confusion and keep you in the race. Improved communication lines can lead to innovative ideas that enhance resilience and moving on to stage three.
Stage 3 – New Beginning. You begin to have a new understanding about who you are and your situation. Just as you approach the end of a marathon, there is renewed energy and commitment to completing it. Finishing it becomes part of your new identity and affects your values and attitudes.
Action Step: Identify what is important to you so you will be clear about your values. Develop a clear picture of the outcome you want. Look within yourself as well as outside yourself to determine the things that help you be responsive and persistent. Self-awareness is essential during during a transition, just as it is when you are running a race. Choose to be authentic in what you say and do. Live your life out of your values and a strong sense of purpose.
No matter what stage you are in during a transition or race, it is important to be resilient. What will it take for you to be healthy and persevere? The answers will be different for each of you because you are unique. Hopefully, you are keeping your eyes and ears tuned to those things that keep you in the marathon and committed to completing it.
Whether you are completing a race or a life transition, it helps to have your support team to keep you focused and energized during these three stages. When you complete your transition, you will have important people in your life to celebrate with.
If you get stuck along the way (especially in stage 2), add me to your support team to help you complete your transition successfully.
I invite you to use the box below for your comments and questions.
Until next time,