Today a colleague called me a “Professional Transitioner.” I had to laugh. “You’re living what you’re coaching,” she said. So I gave it some thought, looked in my personal rear view mirror, and I have to admit, she’s right.
Perhaps like you, I have made frequent transitions in my life: residences, businesses, jobs, and interests. My mother says I have a short attention span; I prefer to regard it as a keen curiosity and a fervent belief that life can be well lived in many different ways and places. Every time there’s been evidence of a new opportunity ahead, either for my husband or myself, I’ve found it hard to resist reaching out for the next possibility.
And generally when there’s a shift on the horizon, like when we move residences, I use my superpowers of organization to the hilt, and dinner’s prepared and on the table by the end of the first day.
Does that mean it’s easy? No way. At the beginning, I spend some days in my pajamas, in a tailspin, or in a funky mood. But in the process I’ve also developed strategies that have helped me move forward.
Here are some ideas for how to move from surviving to thriving in the midst of a transition:
1) Get moving. Literally. On your bike. In the water. On the beach. Around the block. Whenever you get the sense that the disarray is mounting, leave it for ten minutes, get your heart racing, and return. It shakes off the stress and reenergizes you to clear the way for next steps.
2) Get organized. To help get the creative juices flowing, it helps to have some kind of structure. Sometimes all you need to do is rearrange one drawer or balance your checkbook, and it pacifies your left-brain enough to let the right-brain imagine what’s next.
3) Tolerate chaos. When you have a foothold in two worlds simultaneously, it can mean a mountain of work. Very rarely is there a clean break from one situation to the next. There are usually loose threads on both ends, some for you to unravel and some to begin weaving. Find a strategy that helps you become more tolerant of the messy middle.
Don’t expect the future to look like the past. Clear away expectations, and let yourself picture a wild, grand new world.
4) Contain confusion. Woven baskets, painted wooden boxes, or colorful plastic bins can hold the unsorted pieces of your life until you’re ready to give them your attention. There’s something about hiding your junk away in lovely containers that makes it much more pleasing.
5) Feather your nest. I happen to be a devoted nest builder, and am very sensitive to my surroundings. I like to collect objects—not too many—of pleasing colors and textures that blend to create comfort in my home. You might be satisfied to claim one corner of one room as your altar, where you can assemble your favorite elements.
6) Shift your attitude. The most challenging part of transition is keeping your attitude in check. Keep your expectations reasonable; better yet, practice detaching from outcomes. Things may take more time, more money, and more effort than you expect. Period. Find a way to accept your new reality.
“Don’t expect the future to look like the past. Clear away expectations, and let yourself picture a wild, grand new world.” (a tidbit from Martha Beck) Any time you’re facing a transition, identify your new vision, and find a few strategies that can help keep you afloat as you pass through the rough patches; you may find that those same strategies will be your foundation for greatness.