3 Tips for Transition
New Years always brings some bit of anticipation and some bit of sadness. Even “Auld Lang Syne” with its mournful melody and nostalgic lyrics still seems somehow fitting amid celebratory confetti flying and party horns tootling. When something ends, no matter how much we loved (or didn’t love) what was ending, we can expect that we’ll grieve a little. And when something new begins, no matter how much we are looking forward to (or dreading) that new thing, we can expect to experience a little fear.
So in that spirit, here are a few tactical steps to take with the stops and starts of this year.
1. Write down the endings.
- If the thing that’s ending taught you something - perhaps lessons learned the hard way - maybe revisiting those doesn’t strike you as a bright way to wrap up. But by capturing those lessons somewhere (such as in a reflection piece or journal or formal retrospective) you can have the benefit of solidifying those learnings by writing them down, and you’ll also have a place to review them in the future when they can be useful to you.
- If the thing that’s ending brought you pain, maybe leaving it behind sounds pretty appealing. Before you leave it, though, taking a moment to write down what you’re leaving behind can help you firm up your commitment to not go down that path again. Use your hindsight as at least one of the lenses through which you make future decisions.
- If the thing that’s ending brought you joy, maybe your eyes mist up a little with the thoughts of “not again”. By writing down, by commemorating, by preserving in words the things that brought you joy, you’re honoring those moments and extending the brightness they brought. Even better - if you jot those down in a note to someone else who was a part of the joy, you’ll warm their hearts as well.
2. Plan for the beginnings
- If the thing ahead is something familiar, then plan for how you will cherish the familiar and also create spaces for even better. Things like New Year’s resolutions and health plans fall into this category - it’s the same “me”, but I want to be even healthier next year, for example. And how many New Years’ resolutions are broken before the middle of January? Creating a plan of how you’ll stick with it, even on the hard days, makes a world of difference.
- If the thing ahead is something brand new, then take some time to connect with others who have been through something similar. Just because it’s new to you doesn’t mean that the concept or the idea is new to everyone. Chances are good that someone, likely even someone in your network, has experienced something similar enough that they can offer insights to the joys and challenges that may await you. Hearing from them can help you anticipate and plan for the peaks and valleys ahead.
- If the thing ahead is something that scares you, then find ways to make it less scary. Breaking a large and overwhelming project down into smaller goals or more manageable action steps makes it seem less overwhelming. Reaching out to a friend who can cheer you on, encourage you, travel the path with you, or remind you that you matter can make a mountain of loneliness seem less daunting.
3. Embrace the journey of change
- Regardless of what you’re moving from or moving to, there’s a very predictable, familiar journey of change. Take a look at this infographic for a visual representation of that journey, which moves us from “Stable in A”, to ‘Letting Go of A”, to “The Unstable Period,” to “Taking Hold of B,” to “Stable in B”. Getting familiar with the journey, and knowing each stage will vary by person and by change, can help you understand what to expect.
- Give yourself a little grace during the transition. Letting go of something familiar and taking hold of something new are both active efforts that require going above and beyond the day-to-day. Transition takes time and hard work, and while your brain is focused on the transition, some other things may slip through the cracks.
- Don’t go it alone. One message I heard over and over throughout 2020 was how much we really thrive in the company of others. Friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, church members, other group members, folks in your community, counselors, advisors, mentors, coaches, therapists, mental health professionals…seek out the company of others. Whether in-person if you can, or virtually if you must, connect with someone else through this transition.
How about you - how will you apply any of these three tips to your own transitions ahead? Join the conversation on social media or in the comments below!