Life is full of transitions. They come in business, times of personal growth, relationships, and within organizations. Transition can be defined as the moving from one place, situation, or relationship into another. And for most, this can be a tremendously difficult time.
If you happen to be a mother, or stood by a woman giving birth, you will remember the birth stage of transition quite clearly. This last phase of delivery could be described with words like…
Transitions also carry those same characteristics. As we find ourselves leaving a position, location, or relationship, there is a letting go of the old. It can be a time of sorrow as the old begins to fade away. This period can be marked with emotional turmoil as we say goodbye to those things which we once held dear.
But it is also a time of new beginnings, a fresh start that brings excitement and adventure. As we envision the next phase on the horizon, our hopes begin to soar and new possibilities begin to emerge. We ride the roller coaster of emotional highs and lows.
Transitions remind me of crossing a no-mans land. When Paul and I traveled to the historic city of Petra, we started in Israel and crossed the border into Jordan. As we left the security gate of Israel and our tour guide, we had to walk about 100 yards before crossing into Jordan. It was strange. No guards. No nationality. We were literally between two counties. It was reassuring to finally pass through the border gates into Jordan and realize we had arrived.
That’s transition. A no-mans land between two states. The old is not gone, but the new has not yet arrived. Neither one is fully operating. The result can leave a person with a lot of uncertainty.
Since transition is such a common and perplexing part of life, how can we best handle it? Here are my suggestions for traversing this no-mans land of transition:
#1 Evaluate what will be left behind and what will continue as part of your life. Transitions are the time to weigh what part of our lives are truly necessary and beneficial versus what is expendable. T
hose things that remain the same offer stability during the new phase. Some parts of your life will shift according to your position, relationship, or location. Relationships may change because of a promotion. Friendships that were close may now have to stretch across thousands of miles. What do you want to hold onto and what will you let go?
#2 Be willing to release the old to embrace the new. I personally think this is the most difficult part, because of the emotional attachment and memories associated with the past. It may come down to simply making a decision. What can I release and leave behind? You may find yourself wrestling with a load of guilt, but allow yourself the freedom to embrace the next chapter of life.
#3 Discuss your change with those who might be affected. Be honest and sincere. Change will impact you, but more than likely your new position will affect others close to you. Plan ahead about how to bridge any gaps and diffuse any potential confusion. Discuss the positives and consider the negatives and how they might be diminished.
#4 Consider the open doors before you and what lies beyond. What are the possibilities? How will this new stage of life reward you? What are the benefits? Try to anticipate your reactions as new patterns, experiences, and associations begin to form. Life is an adventure…embrace it!
# 5 Stay flexible. In the midst of the ebb and flow of transition, try to find your moorings, but remain flexible. A boat tied to the dock rises and falls with the tide, but it is attached to a solid foundation. As for me, I place my faith in the one who never changes. God is the one fixed element in my life that is my anchor. As I sense the old patterns slipping away, I am determined not to allow fear to overwhelm me.
#6 Be patient. Easier said than done! We always look for the shortcut, but often there is just a long path meandering before us. As you experience a roller-coaster range of emotions, struggle with the physical tasks, and plot a new course forward, give yourself permission to rest. If you are like me, I am always wanting it done yesterday, and get frustrated whenever my timetable is not met. With this move to South Carolina, I face a garage full of bins and boxes. I must tell myself that it is OK to take a break and the unpacking, organizing, and decorating will eventually get done.
#7 Enjoy the journey. Life is a journey with many stops and a few unexpected side trips. The best we can do is to find peace through God and celebrate each and every step along the way. Take full advantage of the perks!
Transitions characterize our lives. Don’t run from change, but learn how to appreciate and use it to your best advantage. For many, it is right around the corner.