Last week I wrote about self-reinvention, which usually happens in tandem with transition.
I’ve lived through a number of transitions myself, and am living through one right now.
In fact, sometimes I think life is simply a series of transitions, with little spaces in-between. I was going to say, “with little spaces in between for breathing room.” But then it occurred to me that if you’re not breathing during a transition, you’re in trouble!
Actually, transition carries with it a certain sweetness; it can be a place where you breathe deep and take in all sorts of things about yourself and the world you didn’t know were there.
Transition can be internal or external, by choice or by circumstance. You may not have much choice if your relationship ends, your house is foreclosed, or you lose your job. And it probably feels like something that is forced upon you, like you’re a piece of tumbleweed blown this way and that, floating through an endless desert without much say in the course you take.
But the interesting thing I’ve noticed about transition is that even if it starts out as an external circumstance it often morphs into an internal choice.
Whatever type of transition you start with, it will likely shape-shift into a personal existential inquiry, where you will be asked to look at the deeper questions: Who am I? What is meaningful? What do I want and need? What does it mean to be alive?
And if that is the case, if the transition pushes you into a philosophical undertow, then you will need to find real world ways to make your stay there more comfortable. Here are five that have worked well for my clients and me in the past.
- MONEY. Money comes into play in most transitions, even when it doesn’t seem like it obviously will. So get clear on your financial situation. Demystify it. Talk about it. Have the difficult money conversations with people in your life. I say “difficult” because I’ve seen so many people push it aside in hopes it will go away and take care of itself. I often ask clients early on to look at their budgets and talk with their significant others about money. Once you do you will feel ten times more prepared for your transition. Then, get a basic foundation in place that will get you through the transition, and consider creative alternatives: simplify, downsize, pool resources, get housemates, move in with family/friends. Ask for help and seek support; don’t try to go it alone.
- SPACE. Carve out emotional and physical space to simply be for a while, rather than do. Whether the transition is by choice or circumstance, internal or external, you will need to get used to what is changing, both internally and externally. Who you have been. Who you are becoming. Perhaps what you have lost. Without a doubt, transition will affect your self-identity, and require you to look inward. And please don’t skip this step. Yes, it’s hard work, but it is the true foundation of all transitions.
- TIME. Time comes up at least as much as money, maybe more. If you’re like most people on the planet you’re experiencing a sense of time scarcity right now. Time is finite, and you will have to fiercely guard it in order to see your transition through. Many people get stuck in the desire part of transition without ever moving to the doing part, simply because they are convinced they don’t have enough time. If this is happening to you, it may signify, at a deeper level, that you’re hoping you can make a transition without actually doing anything differently. Or you may not have allowed yourself enough time in #2 on this list – SPACE.
- THE UNKNOWN. Give yourself permission to go forward without knowing exactly what’s emerging or how it’s going to work out. Talk about the thoughts, ideas, curiosities, and yearnings that are bubbling up for you. Let them out into the world. You transform them and give them life by claiming them and naming them.
- RESILIENCE. Appreciate your resilience. You’re springy. Stretchy. You bounce back easily and roll with the punches. Been there, done that. Right? Right! In fact, you’re irrepressible. SO WHY NOT START NOW?