By Joni Lindquist
Spring reminds us of rebirth and blooming. For me, spring also is awash with many of life’s transitions. For school age children, it means the end of one grade at school and a summer to prepare for the next grade, and sometimes the next school – elementary to middle to high school. For graduates, it’s clearly a time to celebrate past accomplishments and aim for the future… whether that’s preparing for college, graduate school or perhaps a first “real” job.
And lest you think Spring is only about young folks, consider that many career-minded people may wait until after the annual bonuses are paid (usually first quarter of a year) to look for a better opportunity. Likewise, those moving from a career to “retirement” also often wait for the bonuses and other perks/compensation that are tied to staying through March or April before leaving.
How do we navigate these many transitions?
In William Bridges’ classic book, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, he contends that there are three major phases to any and every transition we make in life. These phases are the same, whether you control the change and are happy about it (you choose to take a different job or get married) or the change was thrust upon you (loss of a spouse, divorce, loss of a job). The three phases are: Endings, Neutral Zone and New Beginnings. If you find yourself going through a major life change, I encourage you to read this book.
The “Endings” includes a grieving process for your loss. Bridges argues that Endings should not be rushed. The Neutral Zone is an uncomfortable e place between the old you and the new you. New Beginnings is the period where you are fully moved into the change.
Other helpful tips for transitions:
- Take care of yourself. Change is stressful for human beings and we know how harmful stress can be on one’s body. Thus, it is even more important to focus on one’s health during times of change. Proper amount of sleep, eating healthy, and exercising are all really important to maintaining good physical and mental health. Exercise brings both physical and mental benefits.
It’s likely you’ll want to make a positive impression in your new role—whether it’s a job or personal relationship. Sometimes the demands on your time may be overwhelming, say if you are helping not only yourself but your children, through a divorce. Find the time to exercise, eat healthy and get enough sleep. It will be vital as you go through Endings to New Beginnings.
- Use expert advice. This can come in various forms, from financial advisors, career and life coaches, to psychologists or counselors. Depending on the situation, experts can guide you through transitions, providing informational and emotional support along the way. If you are considering a new job or you are recently married or remarried, a financial advisor can provide analysis and information for you to make the money decisions that accompany these changes.
- Lean on your support structure. Having friends and family who know and support you can be so important. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice. Sometimes you may just need people who make you laugh despite the challenges. All types of support are valuable.
- Seek spiritual or religious guidance. Many religions offer support for those going through transitions. For example, some encourage marriage preparation classes for engaged couples to take assessments that encourage better communication. And while marriage is a happy transition, it is still a big change. Tap into resources that can set you up for early success.
- Find commonality. Support groups abound for people who have made transitions – to sobriety, to single life once divorced, to single life when your spouse dies. If you’re in the midst a career transition, look for mentors or others who have made similar moves or have been successful at the job you now have.
- Be authentic and true to your values. As you try to redefine your life or your career, it is critical to remain aligned with your values. You may be changing and learning a different role, but tapping into your core values can serve as a strong foundation.
There are a wide variety of changes we’ll face as we go through life, and not all of the above may be applicable to you right now. Yet I suspect at least several of the above will help you thrive during this inspiring season of transition! For help coping with your own transitions, schedule a meeting by clicking below, contact Joni Lindquist –firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (913) 345-1881.