Understanding where you are in the transition process and knowing the three stages can successfully help you navigate through it
We’re marked by transitions, from the innocuous to ground-shaking game changers. Although some are expected and welcome while others are not, they all deserve the same thoughtful examination. This will help you discover where you are in transition and help make that transition more successful.
Our lives are full of transitions: transitions in life, relationships, jobs/careers, business, society, technology, and even the evolution of our own ideas and perceptions. Often, we successfully manage these transitions and arrive at the other side without losing a step. However, there are times when issues go unresolved and we find ourselves stuck somewhere in the process of transition. We may appear to have moved forward because things have simply changed, but that doesnt mean weve actually moved on.
Although its true that transition can be energizing, unresolved transitions can become draining, eroding your resilience and stopping you from enjoying new experiences. Sometimes you believe youve made it through a transition only to be hit by something down the road.
I knew a person who was terminated from a job after she was treated unfairly (for which the employer ended up paying significant compensation). Three years later, this person, while working at another job in another city, bumped into someone from her previous place of employment and found herself experiencing a panic attack. Although she had technically moved on, she had never resolved her feelings about the situation. She had moved forward but left the ending unresolved.
Three Stages of Transition
- The Ending: experience of change or loss
- The Journey: searching for understanding/clarity
- New Beginnings: achieving acceptance and renewal
When transition proceeds smoothly, this is how it looks: We move from loss through clarity, if not always understanding, to acceptance and leave the old behind. The process of navigating transition is, of course, not always linear. There will be times when you move forward and times when you feel yourself slipping back. Ultimately, though, a successful transition allows you to move through these stages.
How do you recognize if youre stuck? Examine your thoughts and emotions and see if the following sound familiar.
You may be lost in:
- The Ending if you feel fear, anger, sadness, cheated, defensive, trapped, mislead and disorientated (not necessarily the same as confusion, because disorientation involves more of a sense of loss of direction or focus) when thinking of the ending or during experiences that remind you of what youve lost.
- The Journey if you feel resentment, worry, apathy, uncertain, lethargic, doubt, skepticism and confusion (not necessarily the same as disorientation, because confusion is more tied to uncertainty about what youre doing or expected to be doing or whats happening next) when you think about moving on.
- New Beginnings if you feel nervous energy, surprise, over enthusiasm, off balance, you need constant research or learning, and youre bounding between over/under confidence when you try to think about what youre leaving behind and what youre trying to begin.
None of these emotions may be felt all of the time. You may feel youve accepted an ending and let it go of it, you may feel confident and energized and have great clarity, but at other times, youre less certain. This is part of the process. The question is not if you experience a full range of emotions; the question is if youve resolved them.