As we look at the timeline of our lives, how many transitions can we see? Inside the womb to outside the womb counts as one of our first major transitions. Being chauffeured, to holding a driver’s license. Graduation, moving, marriage, births, deaths, promotions, the list goes on and on. Transitions are endless and life-long.
One of our oldest and most essential navigational tools is the compass. It’s mandatory equipment for anyone venturing out into the wilderness. Without a way to re-orient yourself, the possibility of losing your way is extremely high. I am known to all my friends and family as directionally-deficient. I cannot get anywhere without some kind of device pointing me in the right direction. A 16 year old tells about a time he got lost in the woods of Eastern Oregon while he was bow hunting with his dad. “I began to feel the psychological effects of being lost, mostly frustration and some fear. I remember going back and forth from one side to the other searching for the trail and being so sure of myself and my direction that I actually discounted and didn’t believe my compass. It turned out I had walked out onto a finger of the main ridge and should have realized it if I would have simply trusted my compass instead of my feelings. ” When we are in transition we need to trust a compass, not our feelings.
The transitions I’ve navigated in my life span have ranged from exciting and planned for to unexpected and potentially devastating. What you are in the middle of today may be surprisingly similar to getting lost in the woods. You’ve left the familiar camp and need to find the main trail out of the woods. In the middle of leaving something you’re accustomed to and moving toward something unknown, consider using these three practices to re-orient yourself in the heart of unfamiliar territory. Think of them as your compass.
Take a PAUSE
When you find yourself in yet another transition, take a pause. Healing comes when you take time to just be. Many times in transition you will find yourself clinging to something in order to avoid uncertainty. Hard transitions can shake your identity. It’s natural to define yourself by what surrounds you. If your environment is changing, then who are you? Getting married, having a child, job promotion, all require a re-building of your identity and a letting go of what used to be. Our fast-paced world is fixated on production. Often it appears that the more plates you can spin, the more you are worth. This means that taking a time out is rarely encouraged. When you get still and quiet, pause to just be, you can stop judging yourself and discover what’s going on deep within you. Take a day, a lunch hour, a coffee break and stop planning; don’t look for solutions, put down the electronics, and breathe. Transitions are opportunities to push pause, so that you can re-discover yourself.
Look for GROWTH Opportunities
Within the angst of transition lie many opportunities to grow. Take a look at the parts of your life you most value. Bring those parts with you into this new chapter. Inventory the areas in your life that you’d love to see change. Start practicing some new habits. What parts of your life have you been neglecting? Create a new routine that incorporates these bypassed pieces of your life. Now is the time to explore, brainstorm, make-over before your life begins to solidify into a new pattern. Transitions are those unique times when we toss off the old but have not yet stepped into the new. Seize the opportunity!
That early transition, the one we call birth, took some time. Be realistic about time frames and expectations. Tough days are part of it. Just expect them. It’s not the end of the world, just part of life. Be patient with yourself and others. New relationships, new roles, new neighborhoods all require an adjustment period. Give yourself six months on a new job, a year in a new relationship, two years in a new community. Not allowing plenty of time only puts more stress and strain on you.
The dictionary defines transition as the process or period of changing from one state or condition to another. Transformation is behind the scenes of transitions. Allow transition to usher in a metamorphosis for you!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally shared on Michele’s website, Life by Design, as A Compass for Transition.