Once when I was introducing a workshop for global workers on the topic of transitions, I conducted an experiment. I asked the attendees to introduce themselves to someone new and to only talk about things in their lives which were NOT changing. The conversation dragged on for a few minutes. Energy and interest remained low. Next, I gave them permission to talk about anything and everything in their lives related to change. Life and energy returned to the room. It was hard to break up the conversations.
The reminder? Transition is a universal part of all our lives. It’s where we all find common ground and interest, especially us global nomads. Throughout our journeys, change always seems to be capturing our attention in some way, occupying our thoughts and conversations. It’s also a place where God works deeply in us.
How has transition impacted you? Do you feel victimized by it? Blessed because of it? Challenged through it? Confused in the middle of it? While navigating this season of transition, do you feel near to God? Or more distant?
Given its universality, we would do well to maximize the personal and professional benefits seasons of transition offer. Whether we initiate a transition ourselves or it happens to us, why leave the process up to chance? How can we navigate the waters of transition more purposefully?
As a coach, I help people get intentional with transition. As a fellow transitioner, I’ve struggled to find reasons why some of my own transitions haven’t been as successful as they could have been.
Here’s 5 reasons we fail to grow through transition…
Not establishing clear goals.
I once thought goals were somewhat useless during seasons of change, because transition messes with them too much. What’s the point? Won’t all my good intentions get sabotaged anyway? Actually, the opposite is true. The fact is that setting goals, personal and professional, is the SMART way to navigate change. Having clear goals through a difficult transition can greatly increase the potential to stay the course when obstacles surprise us and expectations aren’t met.
Not setting aside time and space for processing.
Disappointment and lack of clarity are linked to forging ahead during seasons of transition without due diligence. That due diligence consists of finding ways to reflect and process. What do I want? God, what do You want? A good balance of personal reflection and processing with a trusted coach or spiritual director is the path to clarity.
Falling back into old habits.
Transition paths are often marked by signs along the way, ones which tell us to break away from the old patterns and habits which got us stuck in the first place. The perfect opportunity to dislodge old lifestyle and work habits that aren’t serving us well is when we’re going through a season of change. Crossroads always require a decision, and each decision has the potential to break us free and set us on a new path.
The fear of risk.
This is a big one. We fear what we don’t know, and transition and the unknown are blood brothers. While risking it all to pursue our dreams and life calling sounds glamorous, and while the potential to maximize growth opportunities in change is never higher, fear of failure may be something we need to confront. The bigger the transition, the more potential to be paralyzed by fear. Transition often calls for bold and courageous steps. Holding onto God’s promises during high-risk, stepping-out-of-the-boat seasons is what keeps us centered and grounded.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
Taking an all-or-nothing approach.
I used to think that everything needs to change when transition calls. No stone left unturned was my motto. Now I realize this isn’t necessarily true. In fact, it’s rarely true. God has always been gracious to leave me some “holds” during a transition climb to keep me hopeful on the journey upward. As William Bridges puts it,
“As rock climbers try to move only one hand (or foot) at a time, keeping the other three points of contact with the rock solid, so the person in transition will usually do well to use the rest of his or her life as a series of “holds” while making a transition elsewhere.” (Bridges, The Way of Transition)
What are some of your “holds” while making this transition? Is there anything you’ve let go of that you’d like to grab onto again?
One final thought…
What if we were to visualize transition as a coin, marked by resistance on one side and growth on the other? When we find ourselves resisting change, could we be sabotaging our own growth? What side of the coin are you on today?
Fact 1: We are commanded to rest.
Fact 2: We are commissioned to risk.
Fact 3: Facts 1 and 2 don’t seem to square with each other. Learn how they can.