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Entries from February 2013

Managing Transitions

24th February 2013

We are all faced with change in our lives and sometimes
these changes such as; redundancy, relationship break ups, death are not of our
own making. However, changes, or transitions, are a fact of life and often
unexpected. We cope, if we are really lucky we do more than that and navigate
ourselves, and our environment, through these transitions very well.
I have used the term transition rather than change as these
situations often involves moving from a place, role, state to another which is
different in some way. It also involves a psychological reorientation within
each of us as we react to what is going on externally.
  • What if we were in a place where we could manage these
    changes more knowingly? 
  • What if we could navigate them with a sense of ease and
    less anxiety? 
  • What if we felt we were more in control? 

We are all different
with our own traits and experiences to build on and whilst I don’t have a magic
pill to help you all, what I aim to do is lay out some basic steps for you to
play with and hopefully enable you to begin to master these transitions.
For me, there are three key stages to go through and any one
of these can be the starting point:

   Your Vision/Goal

What is it you want? Where are you heading?
Being really clear about where you are going can give you that sense of
direction to begin to navigate through any transition and that you are in
control. You can only be in control if it’s something you want and not what
someone else thinks you should have. This is an important point as we often go
through life striving for something we think we ought to have because x
(Father, Mother, Partner, Boss) said so.
The other important element here is; is it
worth going for? Is it compelling enough for you? Are you motivated by it? If
you’re not it’s either not something you want or you haven’t been ambitious
enough around what you really want.

   Letting Go

This is where I think most people struggle.
In transition there is always something you need to let go of. In relationships
this is often another person, in redundancy this is often the role and or
status and in organisational change it may be your team, your boss,
responsibilities to name just a few. In all of these there will also be some
form of emotion(s) to also let go of and this is often the toughest thing to
What most people do is look for the new
thing that will replace what we are losing first, whatever that may be. However
the real trick is to let go first. Think of a trapeze artist flying through the
air, they have to let go of the 1st trapeze to be able to grab the 2nd
they cannot hold onto both. This is what is really scary as we don’t
always know what that new thing is; so what we have to become really good at is
not knowing.  Being ‘in the gap’
with nothing to hold on to and no hints of choices or possibilities can be
disorientating and likely to cause worry, doubt and anxiety. Yet the thing to
do is relax, be patient, believe in yourself and be open and available to what
comes your way.

   Dealing with Challenges

In any transition there are always
challenges. These might be internal challenges for you e.g. how to manage your
own emotions, dealing with overwhelm of too many choices or ideas; or external
challenges such as other peoples emotions or financial challenges. Sometimes
it’s a challenge that initiates the transition. In handling challenges it’s
useful to assess how you personally deal with challenges. Do you resist them or
do you respond to them? 
If you tend to resist which of the
following do you do; do you freeze and become immobile not quite knowing what
to do or which way to go? Do you fight the challenge, hitting it head on to get
it out of the way and expand a lot of energy in the process? Or, do you run
away from it or avoid it in the hope that it will go away? None of these are
resourceful approaches as you are not actually facing the challenge in a way
that ensures it’s resolved. A useful approach is to get curious about what you can
learn about yourself in the process of responding to the challenge. In evitably
this learning will help you move forward and become better equipped in dealing
with future similar situations. This may sound simple but it isn’t always easy
as challenges often require us to face some of our fears and requires courage
and a degree of objectivity about your own capability and the challenge itself.
I stated earlier, any of these stages can be the starting point and the only
thing you can control is yourself. So, become a master at leading yourself, not
just in transitions but everyday. The more you practice the better you’ll
become at managing these transitions.
you haven’t yet got a vision for you life and what you want then now may be a
good time to do that, so that when you are faced with a challenge or transition
you can be clearer about some of the choices you can make to achieve it.
“It may be that when
we no longer know what to do, we have
come to our real work,
and then we no longer know which way to
go, we have begun our
real journey.”
 Wendell Berry 
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