Why this topic? This last year was full of transitions for me, and now we are entering a transition season-fall, and the beginning of the school year.
We may face one huge transition, smaller ones, or a bombardment of transitions, one after another.
This last year I had transitions that included births, deaths, retirement, an engagement and impending wedding, manager changes in the workplace and health issues. Most of the time I managed the transition well by focusing on what to be grateful about. Some transitions are definitely easier than others.
The transitions I had the most trouble with were those that involved death and my impending retirement. Why? Death of a family member was a hard transition to face because it forced me to come face to face with my mortality and loss. It isn’t something I typically think about, but when it hit me smack in the face, I had to face it.
Retirement, because it made me face my mortality again and reexamine who I was, and who I wanted to be, since my work self is changing. I never realized how closely my work self is tied to my personal self.
Death and retirement triggered a grieving process that I am still going through and coming to terms with. They made me confront my fears and my losses. These transitions are making me think about the legacy I want to leave behind. They are also nudging me to let go of the past and move forward. All of this involves a whole lot of mindset management.
Curious about transitions, I looked to see if there is something new or different that I could share-there really isn’t. I investigated how people successfully dealt with their transitions. One thing that struck me when I was doing my research, was those who dealt most successfully with transitions had the following common characteristics:
- Grit/Determination: They went through the transition with sheer grit. Some of these people lost homes, family, savings and lived on the bare minimum. They determined that they would get themselves out of the situation they were in and have a better life. They set a goal, changed their mindset, and then did the work to achieve the level of success that they have. Some examples are Mary Morrisey and Victor Frankl.
- Vision and Goals: They had a big vision for themselves and their family. It was the vision that helped them move forward. They figured out how to overcome the obstacles in their way.
- Serve others: They used their mess to become their message. They used their journey through their transition to help others in a similar situation.
- Learned from failures and mistakes: They didn’t give up when they failed or made a mistake, they saw it as a learning opportunity.
- Overcame fear: They overcame their fear by going through, rather than avoiding the change.
Transitions involve managing your mindset in the midst of change. People will look at how a leader handles transitions, because it is a refection of their character and resilience. True character emerges during these times and it is what people remember about how the transition was managed-for better or for worse- character wins.
Here are my favorite strategies for better transitioning:
- Plan: If you can, plan for the transition. For example, I have been planning for my retirement. I want to work on this blog and make some changes to it. I want to start a podcast, write some books and do some speaking. I have skills I would like to use in another capacity, so these things keep me going. This transition is a bit scary to me, and I know I will find my rhythm.
Sometimes when you can’t plan ahead for a transition, you can reset your thinking.
- Take care of yourself. Do something for you. Take a walk, hug a pet, read a book, clear your mind, exercise, meditate, do something to remove the stress that has built up.
- Distract yourself and keep busy. It helps to focus on something else besides your trouble. Switching gears helps us to regain control over our life. Do something fun or creative, it will help create a sense of well being.. Do something for someone else.
- Have a routine. It will help normalize things, give some structure to your life, and will help you to focus on other things.
- Get Help: If the situation is unmanageable, seek out professional help. Some things we can do for ourselves and for other things, we need to seek professional help to get us through.
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