How To Manage Transitions in Change
Have you found it difficult to navigate change in your life? I want to share with you some strategies on how you can improve how you navigate change.
The first thing you must understand is that any change that you experience in your life will require a transition.
the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
And transitions are the HARD part of change. Transitions are where most people decide to turn around and go back to their comfort zone.
There are several reasons for this. The number one reason is that transitions require you to start over. And starting over is frustrating, uncomfortable, and full of ups and downs.
I have made many transitions in my life. And each time, I had to navigate the difficulties that came with it. It was the same EVERY time.
What I have discovered is that there is a process to transitioning. And any change that you make in your life will require you to go through that process. There are no exceptions.
The best model I have discovered for navigating this change was developed by William Bridges. His transition model explains the emotional roller coaster we enter when we encounter change.
From a business perspective, it makes sense.
But I can also see it relating to personal change.
I have personally experienced what it means to change and make those transitions. And my experience with those changes has caused me to think deeply about what it takes to navigate change successfully.
Based on my experiences and the Bridges' Transitional Model, I have developed seven
strategies for helping you navigate transition:
Focus on behavior change. Getting from where you are to where you want to be will require you to adapt new behaviors. Behavior change comes from new ways of thinking and being. Ask yourself, "What new behaviors do I need to adopt to make myself successful in my new environment?" Talk to people who have successfully navigated the current environment to find out what you need to do and what you need to re-evaluate. Develop a plan that will help you navigate your new environment. And find someone to hold you accountable to sticking to your developed plan.
Remember the problem that initiated the change. Getting through any change is difficult. Bridges' Transition Model mentions denial, shock, fear, anger, frustration, ambivalence, and stress as key emotions that you will experience when you are in transition. If your change is related to moving past a problem that you encountered, continue to remember why you wanted to change in the first place. For example, when I decided to lose weight, it was difficult giving up those comfort foods and the diet habits that I had enjoyed for so long. I had to frequently remind myself why I started my health journey to begin with. (Hint: It wasn't about fitting into skinny jeans - a short-term goal that is not heart-felt)
Stay connected with people who care. Change is HARD. And navigating it alone can be hazardous to your mental and emotional well-being. Surrounding yourself with friends and family who can support you is critical. Identify people who will encourage you to push through your days when you feel like giving up. Recruit people who will nourish you with wisdom and practical guidance. Do NOT hang out with people who are critical and judgmental. Critical comments will trigger negative emotions that feed the voice of your inner critic. Limit your contact and exposure to the judgers, complainers, and criticizers.
Feel your way through it. If you are a thinker, someone who spends a lot of time on the left-side of your brain, feeling your way through transition will be hard. Your thinking brain will trick you. It wants to keep you safe and secure. Transition is full of uncertainty and risk. And what seems the most logical path will lead you away from what you really want. Learn how to sit in the depth of your feelings by adapting practices like prayer or meditation. Open your heart to receive the new things that are coming into your life. Opening your heart to receive will help you squash the internal chatter that keeps you stuck. And opening your heart will help you ignite the passion that you will need to push through transition.
Celebrate small wins. Did I say already that change is HARD? And getting to your goal is a winding journey. Adapting the practice of celebrating small victories along the way will help you keep your motivation. Think about what you are learning as you go. What new things are you being exposed to? What new ideas and thoughts have you had? What skills are you acquiring? What do you know now that you didn't know BEFORE you started this change? Thinking about these things and keeping a log of what you are learning will help you learn how to celebrate the small victories along your journey. Rewarding yourself in small ways can also help encourage you to stay the course. Treat yourself to a mini-vacation of one or two days. Take a walk in nature. Do a small get-together with friends. The activity does not matter as long as it nourishes your spirit and re-energizes you.
Go easy on yourself. If you are goal-driven or task-oriented, you drive yourself hard to get through transition. This can be counter-productive, especially if you end up stressed and overloaded. Ease off the gas pedal and take some time out to relax and reflect. Lower some of your expectations. Learn how to value progress over achievement. Getting to your goal exhausted and alone will ultimately cause you to feel alienated in your success. If your change is related to a loss (loss of a job or loss of a relationship), attempting too much after the loss will not allow you sufficient time to process it. And you will later experience problems as a result of your failure to process it. This will lead to negative impacts in other areas of your life. Slow down and work your way through the process. Give yourself time to accept and appreciate all aspects of your new life. This will help you avoid the resentment that often comes from a change that happens to us.
Navigating change is NOT easy. You will follow a process that transitions you from where you are currently to a place where the change has ended and becomes your new normal.
Although change is hard, there are things that you can do to help yourself make the transition easier.
Try the above strategies and let me know how they work for you.
As always, I am cheering for your success!