3 Ways to Navigate Transition

Tran-si-tion (n) tranˈziSH(ə)n: The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.

At some point – often many points throughout your life – you will find yourself in some sort of transition. From minor tweaks in your diet to major overhauls in your career, they all have one thing in common. Change. And change is blamin’ hard. It’s much like either ascending or descending a staircase. As we all know, walking up a few flights requires more energy than walking down, but it’s good for you.

Rare is the person who embraces and seeks out change with reckless abandon. Change of any sort usually ranges from making people uncomfortable to scaring the hell out of them. But it doesn’t have to. Nor should it.

Consider this. Change is natural in every aspect of life. Physically, you do not live in the same body you had last year. (Believe me. I’m 46. I know). Mentally, you process thoughts and emotions differently than you did a month ago based on recent experiences. Spiritually, you are either more or less in tune with yourself and your Creator than you were just yesterday.

Change is perfectly natural. So why doesn’t it feel perfectly normal?

Transitions are difficult, I believe, because we too often neglect to value its purpose. Rather than ask, “Why is this happening?” as an observation and an opportunity to learn and grow, we ask, “Why is this happening to me?” as a lament to perpetuate our irritation. Shifting your mindset and valuing the reason for the change makes all the difference in how you’ll be able to courageously navigate through it instead of working diligently to avoid and resent it.

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Here’s a fun fact: Professionally, I am currently unemployed from full-time work. Now, in the meantime, I do have a part-time job and am drumming up some freelance gigs, but it’s certainly one of the bigger transitions a person can experience. I could either choose to be fearful and become immobilized by it or I could believe, despite the uncertainties, that this change is a transition toward a better, brighter future.

This, by the way, is following another major personal transition that occurred over the course of the last couple of years. But that’s a subject I’ll strictly reserve for a personal conversation.

How tough you are to endure any change may surprise you. In architecture and construction, building materials are given a measurement of compression and tensile strength. It’s the amount of pressure a material can endure both in being pressed and pulled upon. Those specifications allow architects and construction crews to choose the appropriate material for the project. Thankfully, the human spirit isn’t limited by those physical limitations.

My friend Staci Jordan Shelton reminded me that your limiting beliefs will hold you back. Paraphrasing, she says, “You know that record you play and replay in your head that you’re not good enough, you’re too ugly, too fat, too stupid? Yeah? Shatter it. It’s serving you no purpose.” If you’re under 30 and it’s an .mp3 that keeps replaying in your head, delete it.

I love Molly Cantrell-Kraig’s perspective on change.

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Here are three ways that you and I can begin to navigate “The Pauses” and find them useful, rather than feel they’re so burdensome.

ONE: Discover the Purpose

I don’t mean assign it a purpose by fabricating one. Making up a reason would be counterproductive. Discover it. The purpose is already there. Look for and uncover the upside that lies on the backside of the change. Consciously discover them.

Obviously, smart changes in your diet will have health benefits. Less obvious are the unexpected and unwanted circumstances that roll your way. Not having a job is not the end of the world. Unemployment, as it turns out, has many upsides. It’s an opportunity to explore new avenues of making a contribution. It’s a chance to pursue a bigger vision for your life and career. It’s humbling and tests your resolve. It both reveals and builds your character. It stretches you to become more resourceful. For better or worse, it’s only temporary.

Everything has a reason and there’s always an answer to everything. Discover it.

TWO: Adjust Your Perspective

If you feel stuck, it may be because you’re only looking backward toward the past. Missing the old days. Wishing things are still the way they once were. The same is true if your past is painful and you’ve become bogged down and depressed. Well, fortunately, it should be clear by now that things naturally change. It cannot be stopped. But you gotta believe it’s for the better.

Begin looking toward the future with hope and envision the way things can and should be. Give your mind a safe place to dream. But don’t stop there. Make some plans. Write down your goals. Learn some new skills. In basketball, it’s call a “pivot.” Keep one foot grounded and shift your other foot to make an opportunity.

I don’t believe, however, in only looking toward the future. There is much to learn from the mistakes and pain of your past. But you can’t dwell there forever. Note what’s useful from your past looking backward and discard the rest in the name of moving forward with the faith that things will work out for the better. Intentionally look backward less and forward more.

“If the elevator tries to bring you down, punch a higher floor.” ~ Prince

THREE: Courageously Trust the Process

Change often takes courage. But realize that courage isn’t the absence of fear. It is the positive actions you take despite your fear. Some transitions happen quickly. Others happen slowly. Both are processes that need to be trusted.

Steve Jobs once said, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” I believe this principle applies to every area of your life that needs to change. But you’ve got to want it. Invest in courage. Believe in it. Fight for it. Don’t settle for anything less.

Either way, change is inevitable. Resist the gravitational pull of mediocrity. Take the stairs.

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From your experience, what wisdom would you add?

If you feel your business’s marketing efforts need to change, I’m available to help make that happen.

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