Are we ever not in transition? Recently I was talking with a friend about how we felt that at some point in our lives we would have ‘arrived’, like we had ‘made it’ and some of the messy business of not knowing what we want or what we could be would be behind us. Instead it seems that the older we get the more we realize we don’t know where it’s all going or who will even be there with us on the journey, and maybe it’s easier to learn to be comfortable in the gray muck of not-knowing.
Many of the transitions we go through in our lives are self-propelled: we decide to go to college and move away; we decide it’s time to change our career or have a baby. But it’s much different when the transition is happening out of our control, such as being laid off or working through the emotions of end-of-life transitions with loved ones. How we view and think about these transitions is almost as affecting as the change itself. With Spring here a little early this year a lot of people are talking about change, and it seemed appropriate to share a little about navigating the kinds of changes we feel unprepared for or even afraid of. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you find yourself in the midst of an unwelcome transition and need a little self-coaching:
1. You are not the first person to go through this. In fact, you are probably not the only person in your family or friend group to go through it either. Watch for destructive and unproductive thoughts like, “Why does this always happen to me?” Ask yourself, “Was that thought about what is happening really true?” And then, “Does the answer help me in this situation?”
2. Learn to respond to yourself as kindly as you would your best friend. You are probably scared, unsure, confused, and uncomfortable. The last thing you need to hear is a nagging internal voice that you “Could have prevented this if only…” or “I should be doing_____ right this second to fix this!” These thoughts, as common as they are, will only serve to stress you out further. Remember this transition happened against your will, and there is nothing you can do now to change that.
3. You’re okay. No matter what craziness is happening around you, YOU are okay. You may have just lost your job, or a loved one, or your house. But YOU are okay. You were born with innate wellbeing, and you still have that in this situation. In fact, you probably also have several friends, family members, or other loved ones who are not affected by this situation who you can lean on.
4. You deserve help. Find a mentor, coach, or therapist. You don’t have to figure out what to do alone. Many others are nearby who are waiting to help you with this, professional or otherwise.
5. This too shall pass. Even the worst of changes will come to an end eventually. You’ll find a new job; you’ll move forward from the grief of the lost loved one. You will be changed for going through this, and maybe that is the biggest transition of all- we change as changes come. You are not fixed, etched in stone as the You of 2015. You will change, you will grow, and that is a blessing.
Life Purpose and Career Coach
Career Clarity Now