In my upcoming book, Thriving in Change (working title), one of the things I discuss are the many stages of change. In today’s blog, I want to give you an exclusive sneak peek at an excerpt from the book which deals with the second stage of change: the transitional stage.
THE TRANSITIONAL STAGE
Once we have moved through the ‘letting go’ process, we find ourselves in the second phase of change. This is the period of emptiness and uncertainty. This is also called the transitional time, or the time between letting go of the old and fully embracing and adapting to the new.
During this time, you may feel like you are lost. You don’t know what to do. You don’t know what is expected of you. This is unfamiliar territory. Nothing feels the same. The old is gone, the new is unknown, and you are in between.
Like a farmer, it is the time that the fields appear to lay barren, but in reality they are becoming nutrient rich for the next crop. This is your opportunity to prepare for the next phase. It may not seem easy at first, but there are things you can do to help restore your sense of balance and control in life. Below, you’ll find suggestions on how to do just that. As you review the ideas that follow, select one or two that you can commit to as you move through the transitional phase of change. Implementing these ideas will make this phase easier to handle.
1) Do something that makes you feel in control. (And we’re not talking about holding the television remote!). Don’t sit around making excuses about why you can’t do something, just give it a try. Be sure that you choose a project that gently pushes your energy level, and more importantly, one that you can accomplish. Stick to it until you finish.
2) Take stock of your life and choose one or two areas to focus on that can greatly impact your future success. Take action. Take an online course, for instance, or sign up for a language class. Or a dance class. Study other religions. Learn to type using all of your fingers! Whatever you do, give it your best effort.
3) Think bigger and bolder. Daydream. Visualize yourself immensely successful. See yourself in a new light. Create a collage of your best self. Your aspirations. Your talents.
4) Do not confuse the present with the past. Remind yourself, in spite of past reactions to change, that you are older, more mature, and wiser. You have the skills you need to not just survive, but to thrive during this newest change.
5) Accept that this is an awkward stage. Ask for patience and support from people who are in your corner. Ask them to be patient, but not to let you become complacent.
Remember, the transitional time of change is also an opportunity to evaluate any previous decisions you might have made. What did you learn? What should you learn in order to prevent a similar experience from happening? What will you do differently the next time you are in a related situation?
Old habits are hard to unlearn. You might be tempted to rush into the first opportunity that comes your way during the transitional phase—anything that can help you feel as if your life is back on course. Let’s say the significant change in your life has been losing your job. That can easily make anyone feel as if the foundations of their livelihood have been upended. It would be easy to jump at the first job offer that comes you way, therefore. After all, you’re craving stability. However, you may very well end up taking a job that is completely unsuited for you, or begin another venture entirely that has a very high change of failing, leaving you right back where you started. Instead, use the transition stage as a time for you to sort out the past without recreating the past.
Here are some points to bear in mind when you are on the transition curve.
- Some people repeat sections of the curve to best handle transition (there’s no right or wrong sequence).
- People will exhibit different emotions depending upon the nature and number of changes occurring to them at the same time and their ’emotional intelligence’ (something we’ll talk about in a later chapter).
- It’s OK to be slow so long as you’re moving and not stuck somewhere.
- It’s OK to be slow so long as you’re planning on arriving sometime.
- It’s OK to be fast so long as you’re tolerant and supportive of slower travelers.
- It’s OK to be fast so long as you honestly acknowledge your own ‘endings’.
The difference I have seen between people who are change resilient and those who are less so is this: resilient people are moving forward. They process each step appropriately and they manage their emotional state effectively. They know that the way they feel will pass.
Less resilient people get “stuck” on the curve. They may suppress their emotional reactions, bottle them up and ignore them. Or alternatively they might dwell on their emotions too much, churning them over and over without resolving them.
Think of it as a staircase. So long as you remain on any one step, you’ll never reach your ultimate destination that awaits you at the top of the staircase. It’s perfectly fine to take your time from one step to the next. The important thing to remember is to just keep moving forward.