How Will We Meet Life’s Changes?
10 Ideas for Dancing With Transitions in Life and Work
Everything changes. Every living organism grows and adapts. Changes occur within each of us, in our families, relationships, workplaces, professions, and communities. Typically, we welcome some changes and rebel against others.
“How will we meet life’s changes?”
We have choices about how we respond. In his book “Managing Transitions,” William Bridges, PhD, writes, “It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions.”
Bridges clearly differentiates between transition and change. Change is about the situation, for example, a move, graduation, birth of a child, illness, or retirement. In contrast, transition is the human process of adjusting to the new situation.
There is the change, and there is the transition process to adjust and optimally to thrive as we move forward.
Three Phases of change:
Phase 1: The Ending – Letting go of the old situation. Acknowledging and dealing with the loss.
Phase 2: The Transition or In-Between Time – The wilderness between what was and the new beginning. This may be a time of disorientation, relief, confusion, distress.
Phase 3: The New Beginning – Making the change work.
There are many options for engaging with the phases of a transition.
Here are 10 ideas for dancing with transitions in life and work:
1. If you are experiencing a loss, let yourself recognize it. Feel what you need to feel. Consider sharing your emotions, thoughts, reactions with others whom you trust.
2. Reframe the situation. There is more than one way to look at most situations. If you see yourself getting locked into a negative way of seeing something, open to other options. Reframing means to look at a situation differently. This can result in approaching the transition from a new perspective.
3. Engage your flexibility muscle. As you are ready, make an intentional decision to let go of the past where it no longer serves you, and move ahead toward how things are, and will be.
4. Embrace a growth mindset. Carol Dweck, PhD, motivational psychology expert, states “the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life ….the growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts (2006).” We can choose to learn, grow, and improve as we face life’s demands and changes. For more on growth mindset, see my July 5, 2016 newsletter: Embracing Growth or Resisting Change.
5. Identify and focus on your strengths to help move forward through transitions into new beginnings. For example, if perspective is one of your strengths, you may want to look at the big picture and figure out where this change fits with all the aspects of your life. For more information on strengths see the resource list below. (Including the free VIA survey to assess your character strengths).
6. Pay attention to, and take active care of, your health and well-being – mind, body, spirit.
7. Try one or more breath awareness, relaxation, or mindfulness strategies to help cope, become present, and gain perspective.
8. Seek support from people you trust. For example: family, friends, colleagues and coworkers, a professional coach, counselor, or support group.
9. When you are ready, consider your next steps. Set SMART goals, and take manageable action steps to move forward. SMART goals are specific and clear, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
10. Remember your sense of humor. Laughter can be an effective ally to help to soothe tension and reduce responses to stress.
Resources and References to Learn More:
- Berns-Zare, I. (2016, July 5). Embracing Growth or Resisting Change. http://ibzlifecoaching.com/
- Berns-Zare, I. (2017, April 18). Mindfulness, Self-Awareness, and Calm: Powerful Tools for the Effective Leader’s Toolbox. http://ibzlifecoaching.com/2017/04/mindfulness-self-awareness-calm-leader/
- Bridges, W. (2009). Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change. Da Capo Press, PA.
- Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Random House, NY.
- Kabat-Zinn, J. (2007). Video: Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn: Kabat-Zinn Leads a Session on Mindfulness at Google. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nwwKbM_vJc
- Prochaska, J.O., Norcross, J.C., DiClemente, C.C. (1994). Changing For Good. HarperCollins, NY.
- VIA Free Strengths Profile – VIA Institute on Character (The button link for VIA’s survey can also be found in the sidebar on the right)
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