Navigating Change without Getting Lost in the Transition
One of my favorite questions to ask is: Are you ready for change?
How you choose to answer that question can help you figure out why you are failing to reach your goals.
A lot of coaches who will tell you that having a clear vision is an important part of setting meaningful and fulfilling goals. Other coaches stress to you the importance of having a process for setting goals and tracking your results. And there are more coaches that will inspire and motivate you to believe that you can achieve the life of your dreams. But, with the exception of executive management and business consultants, few coaches deal with how to effectively navigate change. Between where you are currently and your vision or goal is the place of transition. And it is in that transition phase that change management becomes an important predictor of your success or failure.
A Model for Managing Personal Change and Transition
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross performed some ground-breaking research on how people manage personal change. By looking at how people handled grief and death, she was able to form a model that explains the emotional process people experience during periods of transition.
Although Kubler-Ross developed this model (change curve) for helping people navigate personal change, it has been more widely accepted and used in the business arena to explain team dynamics and organizational performance barriers. It also heavily used by grief and loss counselors and therapists as a tool to help people understand how to deal with significant loss. This is unfortunate because Kubler-Ross model has great applicability to how we deal with all kinds of personal change. When we set a personal goal or vision, we are immediately declaring that we no longer wish to be where we are. Beyond the obvious fact that we will need to make changes to get to our goal, we will also need to understand how to navigate that change. In fact, failing to understand how to navigate and manage the change is an easy way to increase your chances of failing to attain your goal or reaching your vision. I call it "getting lost in the transition." Managing transitions is all about letting go of your past and embracing your future. In order to successfully navigate the change, you must understand three things:
Where you are
Where you have been (past failure)
Where you want to go (vision and goals)
Each component ties into an overall framework for building a plan to manage your transition. William Bridges, author of several books on the topic of managing transitions, says this about transition:
“transition always starts with an ending. To become something else, you have to stop being what you are now; to start doing things a new way, you have to end the way you are doing them now, and to develop a new attitude or outlook, you have to let go of the old” ― Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes
Endings always bring about emotional changes in the person navigating it. Because the emotional component is an automatic part of the change process, wouldn't it make sense to have a plan that incorporates more than a list of tactical action items related to getting your goal? Your plan also needs to address the emotional components of navigating the change. It should include specifics directly related to Kubler-Ross' Change Curve:
Defining how you will honor your past (letting go with dignity)
Understand the reasons behind your past failures and how to avoid making the same mistakes again
Room for exploring and failing in small ways
Celebration of micro-wins along the way
Navigating change is not easy. Having a solid plan at the outset will help you minimize the risks of failing. And minimizing those risks will increase your odds of succeeding. So I will ask again: Are you ready for change? Successfully navigating change and transition requires you to embed habits and routines into your strategy. Morning routines are a great place to start. Check out my free webinar on Success Habits to Power Up Your Day for simple ways to get started. I am cheering for you!