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How to TRANSITION ON PURPOSE (including assessment)

I’ll never forget the very visual representation of what I and many of my closest friends were experiencing in that season almost ten years ago. I sat in a wooden pew surrounded by 800 to 1000 people in a packed Catholic church just northwest of Chicago. The speaker, Matthew Kelly, was addressing a situation many of us knew quite well. “How many of you think people like change?” he asked. “Raise your hand if you think people actually like change?” How many hands would you guess went up in that large crowd that day? If you guessed, one, you’d be right. Just one hand! Matthew Kelly’s own! “I believe people really do like change,” he said. “People would love the change to a better job. A better marriage. A healthier weight….." "The challenge? It’s transition. It’s getting from here to there. Transition keeps many of us stuck. Even in bad situations.” Wow! Don’t you agree? Transition scares so many of us. Or keeps us stuck. Or keeps us in places we KNOW aren’t a fit. And is we don’t handle transition on purpose we don’t move forward. If we don’t manage it and move through it, transition can even ruin us. I recently asked a group of people to describe what comes to mind when they think of transition. Here were some of the words they mentioned. Except for the one who positively said, "Opportunity," others weren't so postiive.

  • Desperate

  • Frantic

  • Unsettled

  • Anxious,

  • Lacking direction

  • Financial challenges

  • Uncertain

And since we all tend to crave certainty, who would choose transition if given the choice?? Unless…. Unless transition is the best way to get to the change we want. Need. (Or God knows we want and need) Having now worked professionally for 16 years coaching people in transition I’d like to suggest five things those that those that transition on purpose (and get to a better place) have in common. These are my observations. And, if you’re currently in transition, (job, educational, financial, moving, retirement, change in relational status, even spiritual transition) rate yourself on how well you’re doing these from 1 to 5. 1 = not doing this at all. 5 = Doing this completely.

1. STOP (1-5)

Ferris Bueller (in his “Day Off” movie) hits this nail right on the head.

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

And the vast majority of those around you have never really learned how to stop. We don't get such training in school, in business, or sadly, not even in many of our religious groups. Transition makes us think, “Help! I better get somewhere quickly!” We often feel panicked. Anxious to settle what seems unsettled. And instead of this being a time of reflection, growth and even insight, we hurry. We rush. We feel like we have zero time to waste. Instead, I want to invite you to try another way. A transition on purpose. Might this season be the best thing for you? A gift of life? Could it be what author Sheldon Van Aucken termed a “Severe Mercy?” An unexpected an even unwanted gift. Personally, in times of career and life transition, I was introduced to the concept of soulcare and of spending time in intentional reflection and solitude. I learned that things like retreat centers existed. Nature could be my friend. Journalling was a tool. Coaches and mentors could help me. Get away. Take the vacation. Go to the mountains. Check into a retreat center or even a monastery. Trust me, I never would have thought of coaching others in transition by reading a book about it! : ) And I learned to heed the challenge, “Don’t just do something. Sit there.” Even grow the daily habit of caring for your soul and reflecting. “Habits of Hope.” A way of life.

2. SURRENDER Fear and Unsettledness (1-5)

Busyness has a way of numbing our fear or unsettledness. Even if it’s below the surface. Yet, in times of transition we find ourselves with unplanned or unscheduled time. We’re alone. It’s in this time we can hear voices in our own heads saying things like, “You’re in trouble.” “This time you’re sunk.” “You’re gonna go broke.” “No one wants you!” “No one needs you!” What voices are you hearing? Are those the voices of fear? Or of faith? Of catastrophising or of confidence and courage? Sometimes surrendering means prayer. Other times it means just breathing deeply. Being OK. You may even try this simple meditation. Just sit and close your eyes. Breathe deeply and say over and over. “I release this.” “I release this.” Notice how you feel afterwards. Notice what happens in your day.

3. SURROUND Yourself With Positive People (1-5)

The danger we can experience in transition can also involve removing ourselves from people. We may hide away or pull away from relationships. In this season, you may actually MOST need to be with those who can encourage, mentor, pray with you or just laugh with you. And, yes, now’s a good time to meet with coaches, counselors and advisors IF… IF they can inspire hope, courage and confidence in you. Don’t if they don’t! And yes, pay them for what they do. Actress Selena Gomez recently said,

“You are who you surround yourself with. I know that's such a cliche quote, but it's true.”

4. SEE you've been uniquely prepared for something (1-5)

It’s too possible in transition times to come down with tunnel vision… and see what’s wrong, missing, challenging…

Instead, can you look back and examine what this season may be preparing you for what you may have missed if you didn’t come to this?

Even the pain and uncertainty in this transition can equip you to serve others who also will experience this.

And are you able to recognize the gifts you've been given from your past? Even what hasn't worked out? What vision might your most painful experiences be giving you now?

5. STEP by faith toward a purposeful vision. (1-5)

Finally, there does come a time for action and positive activity. As long as it’s not premature, you will want to create step by step momentum to move to a better place than ever before.

Have you been able to get fully clear on the vision of what you want most? Are you clear on the best work you can bring to the next situation, relationship or season?

Then do something each day to build momentum using your best gifts, resources and fear-free state.


Well, how’d you do? Add up your score.

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