18 Jun 2020

Successful transitions begin with endings

Not in his goals but in his transitions man is great.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

During one lifetime we experience many transitions, some smaller and some bigger.  

Too often we skip from one stage to another without dealing with unfinished business. 

We might have rushed into a new relationship without addressing the underlying causes of a previous relationship breakup. Or we could have started a new high pressure job without fixing the work imbalance that caused us to leave a previous role. 

During the lockdown we had a unique opportunity to reflect on what really matters. We can create better lives for ourselves, those around us and future generations. 

Some of us have lost jobs or contracts we were counting on. Future plans have been scuttled. 

This transition period can open up new opportunities. We will get through this, as we have with previous life stages and upheavals.

Transitions often begin with disenchantment. You may feel betrayed by an organisation which made you redundant. This is a natural reaction. Part of your identity has been smashed and regular routines have disappeared.   

William Bridges* talks about three stages of transitions – endings, a neutral zone and new beginnings.

Feelings of confusion and emptiness are natural when one life stage ends, before you find a new role and identity. 

Very often we skip through the neutral phase to avoid the pain of dealing with a loss of place, purpose and identity. 

An example is moving to a new location without a job to go to, or friends we know there. After the novelty of being in a new place and settling in, the loss of close relationships and familiar routines can hit hard.   

Inner turmoil and confusion can also rock the boat in relationships. Your anxiety can affect those around you. The best way forward is talking about what is going on, to avoid defensive reactions.  

Radical new beginnings start with endings. Sometimes there is no clear path ahead. 

Taking some time out to be alone, removed from distractions and the expectations of others can help. This could be getting up early to meditate, or going for an early evening jog. Another option is to escape from your normal routine for a few days and leave the gadgets behind. 

Use the time on your own to discover what you really want. Think about times in your life when you were in the zone, your successes and achievements, interests and abilities that you may have put aside.

This can be your turning point. A time for insights into what really matters. A chance to change your life for the better, for self-care and renewal, a new beginning. 

Energy levels, fresh ideas and new plans will magically return when you discover what you really want. 

I would like to wrap up with five tips for successful new beginnings. 

1. Take the first steps towards your new goal. 

2. Visualise yourself as successful in your new role / life stage. What will you have achieved?

3. Focus on the process of getting there, rather than the end result.

4. Avoid putting all your eggs in one basket while you pursue your passion project. Experiment with what works. 

5. Be gentle with yourself. Put support systems in place and celebrate small achievements along the way. 

* "Transitions - Making Sense of Life Changes" by William Bridges 


Mary Somervell

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