Even though transitions are inevitable in every person’s life, we often feel ill-equipped to handle them. Whether it’s a change in work, health, a relationship, or residence, the circumstances can create stress, uncertainty, and even conflict in a person’s life. From my own experience as well as through coaching people facing change, I’ve learned that there are some basic steps you can take. Here are five powerful steps to manage your transition, so that it does not manage you.
1 Determine the scope of the change
It’s rare for a change to impact only one aspect of a person’s life. For instance, dealing with an illness or disability can impact a person’s ability to perform at work, show up for loved ones, and engage in social activities. Or a change in employment also can impact relationships at home – positively or negatively. Therefore, I encourage my clients to look at how a change might impact the most significant areas of their lives – family, work, financial, health, leisure, spiritual, fitness. I also recommend that my clients look at the transition itself – what, specifically is the change – retirement, divorce, pregnancy, health condition? Educate yourself through books or online resources on the subject. How are you feeling about the situation? How long do you think it will take to make or adjust to the change? How do you think it will impact you overall? What are the challenges you may face with this change? What resources are available to help you achieve success? Once you look at the scope of your transition, you’ll have a better idea of what to prepare for to minimize challenges and set yourself up for success.
2 Ground yourself in values and vision
Because change can be stressful and people sometimes feel lost and confused, it is helpful to stay grounded in your values and to have a vision that allows you to stay true to yourself. Think about what your core values are – those values that are central to your wellbeing, examples of which are balance, honesty, compassion, and joy. Here is a list of values to help you identify what’s most important to your wellbeing. After you’ve determined a handful of values that are core to your wellbeing, create a vision of yourself navigating your transition in ways that honor those values. Visualize yourself embodying those values as you cope and utilizing resources that keep you in touch with those values. For example, if self-awareness is a core value, you could visualize yourself meditating mindfully daily, doing a body scan before making any decisions, and journaling about your experience nightly. Write down your vision and refer to it periodically to stay grounded.
3 Decide on a plan of action
Now that you know the scope of change and are centered in your core values, you are in a position to create a plan on how to address the change you are creating or facing. Decide on your end goal in terms of what success with this transition would look like. Determine the steps you need to take to reach your end goal. List the resources you will use and the challenges that you will need to address. Decide on your timeline and fit your steps into that timeline sequentially. Then implement your plan. As you take action, monitor your progress and correct your course as needed. If you need help coming up with an action plan, consider working with a coach or read articles, such as how to create a plan for transition.
4 Communicate with key players
Decide on who the people are who will impact you and/or will be impacted by your transition. These people are your key players. People who impact you need to be engaged for you to get the support, advice, and resources you need to achieve a successful transition. Let them know what you need from them and keep them updated on how you are doing as you move through your transition. It’s also important to involve people who are impacted by the change you are creating or experiencing. Communicate with them to minimize conflict by telling them what the transition is and how it may impact them and/or you. Ask them what they might need from you. Keep the lines of communication open to minimize uncertainty and isolation.
5 Keep self-care at the forefront
Self-care is crucial during times of change to maximize your capacity to deal with associated stress. Physically, do what you can to exercise good sleep habits, eat regularly to keep your blood sugar level, and exercise – not just for fitness, but to release endorphins to help your mood. Emotionally, monitor how you are feeling, practice self-compassion, and engage in practices that have been helpful in the past to help you cope. Mentally, engage in a mindfulness practice, such as focusing on your breath, for mental clarity. Socially, stay active and utilize social support – it’s important not to isolate. If you find it challenging to keep self-care at the forefront, make it part of your action plan.
No matter what the transition is that you are experiencing, these suggestions will help you navigate it successfully. They will help you minimize challenges and stress while maximizing your resources and coping capacity. By determining the scope of the change, grounding yourself in your values and vision, having an action plan, communicating with key players, and keeping self-care at the forefront, you are well on your way to thriving through this transition.