Take this quick quiz. Which of these things have you experienced in life?
- A new job
- A job promotion
- A new place to live (a new apartment, a new house, etc.) – even if it’s just across town, it still counts!
- A marriage
- A child / children
If you’re like most people over the age of 25, you could answer “yes” to at least one of the items on the list above. The more life experience you have, the more times you probably answered “yes” on the list – perhaps some of them multiple times.
What does this mean? Whether you realize it or not, you’ve been navigating transitions for years now. You’ve been building and practicing transition management skills.
William Bridges wrote two books on this topic:
Bridges’ books have been converted into training curriculum and tools by Linkage, Inc.
Some people think of experiences in the bulleted list above as changes. But Bridges instead believes they are transitions. See what YOU think.
|Move in date to new place to live||Feeling “at home” in the new neighborhood|
|Start date for new job / new promotion||Feeling like you’ve found “your groove” in the new company / new position|
Fundamentally, the transition is the psychological adjustment process we have to go through to get comfortable and fully adjusted to our new situation. The change, on the other hand, is an event. Change can be project planned, but transitions don’t follow a timetable.
If you’ve moved, you know what this feels like. First, you sign all of the papers, and the movers leave you with a house full of boxes and furniture in the new location – the change. But then you still need to find new doctors, the new grocery store, a new dry cleaner, new school for the kids, and a new pattern of life. Not to mention get to know your neighbors … all of which involves the transition.
These are powerful concepts when you let them sink in.
- What do you need to let go of – completely – before you can truly begin anew? Some of the things in a loss are straightforward (not easy, but obvious to identify), like a job title, a relationship or the status which accompany those things. Other aspects are more subtle, like routines/habits, what-you-thought-your-future-held, or memberships/affiliations that gave you a sense of identity. Bridges says you can’t reach a new beginning until you deal with all of the things you need to acknowledge have ended.
- What changes AND transitions might be overlapping in your life right now? (Or in the life of one of your team members?) Don’t be naive enough to think one doesn’t impact the other. When someone’s parent goes into an assisted living facility, or their “baby” goes off to college, it impacts their ability to demonstrate resilience to change at work. They may be physically present, but mentally unaccounted for.
- What opportunities for creativity and learning emerge during the transition? The transition gives you a chance to test out new ways of doing things. What do you want your new routines around the house, or different work processes at the office to become? You could let the old ways stay behind with the old job or the old city.
Betsy Winkler is a certified Linkage trainer in the Transition Management curriculum, and a Partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter at @BetsyWinkler1.