Many people are disappointed when the anticipated changes in their lives don’t bring immediate, easy, lasting happiness. Think of these changes that most of us look forward to:
New exercise or weight loss program
What we don’t understand, or forget about, is that all of the items here can be given a date on the calendar, but the internal, personal adaptation doesn’t happen in one day. It may not happen in a week or a month or even a year, but then again it might happen quickly.
Transition is the internal adaptation to an external change, and that process is different for every person. Some people adapt quickly. Others pretend that nothing has changed but struggle to let go of the way things were. Yet others figure out that the change is more than they had bargained for and they bail on the idea.
Wiliam Bridges (1980) was the first to put a name to this difference between the external event and the internal transition journey we must go through as we move from status quo to status new!
I have spent 25 years observing, navigating, facilitating, initiating and studying change and transition. The result of those 25 years is a tool I have created to help others navigate these transitions more successfully. I don’t want this to be a commercial for the Transitions Journey Deck; but I do want to share a few things I know about change and transition that may help you in your life whether you purchase one of my decks or not. I know:
We can miss or grieve things we didn’t like.
Things will most likely get more difficult before they get easier.
No change occurs in isolation; this one change affects other parts of your life.
Other people in your life may not be supportive of your change.
Every change has invisible ropes tying you to the old ways.
We have limited information at the beginning of any change.
Transitions present our greatest opportunity to learn about ourselves.
Most of the challenges we will encounter are emotional, not necessarily logical.
Every change involves something we must let go of if we are going to fully commit to the new.
The bottom line is that transition is a personal journey and at the outset of any change we have limited information, which informs how we feel about things and the choices we make. As we come to understand more of what is involved in a change, we are often surprised by our reaction and what can feel like resistance to a change that we thought was going to be great or easy of fun. Instead we are often frustrated, exhausted and unsure of what is making the change so hard.
These are the best times to learn about ourselves, our beliefs, our values, and to explore key relationships. In short, a transition is a terrible learning opportunity to waste.