Transition: The Path to Meaningful Change

Written by on September 4, 2014 in Adaptability

Change and TransitionChange, we love to hate it and invest a significant amount of energy avoiding it. Yet if we can learn to manage the process, it can be our most important path to growth and greater life satisfaction.

Some change is subtle, some change leaves you feeling blindsided. There’s no question that when life throws an unexpected detour at you it’s only natural to feel disoriented and more vulnerable to feelings of anxiety, frustration, depression, sadness and at times even guilt.

The one thing all change has in common is that the quality of your experience will depend on the attitude you bring to the process. You can meet change with protest and resistance or with acceptance and grace … the choice will always yours to make.

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ~Joseph Campbell

The Nature of Change and Transition

While the words are occasionally used interchangeably, there is a subtle but significant difference between change and transition.

Change is the external action and circumstances of what is happening to you, for example changing jobs, moving to a different part of the country, the end of a relationship, having a child, adopting a healthier lifestyle, or starting your own business.

Transition, on the other hand, is the internal process that you must go through in order to adapt to change and the new circumstances it presents. It is managing this internal phase of change that has the potential to create the biggest challenge, but also the greatest opportunity for growth.

The 3 Stages of a Successful Transition

Phase 1: Letting Go of the Past

The first phase of a successful transition is coming to terms with what will no longer be a part of your life, and as basic as it may sound, the importance of this phase cannot be underestimated because, regardless of whether you initiated the change or it was thrust upon you, it’s the first step of altering your mindset and moving from resistance to acceptance.

If the change has to do with creating a healthier lifestyle that could mean recognizing and accepting that your beloved glazed donut and coffee on the run out the door each morning is no longer acceptable; or acknowledging that you’re going to have to stop pressing the snooze button and give up an hour of sleep in order to make time for your morning run.

Another example is having a child. As joyous as the occasion is, there are nevertheless many areas in your life that will never be the same, particularly your level of personal freedom to come and go as you wish.

Of course, some changes are far more painful than others, for example, there’s the passing of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, or adjusting to physical limitations as a result of an illness or accident.

Regardless of the nature or severity of the change, in order to free yourself to move forward you must first accept the change and let go of what will no longer be a part of your life.

Phase 2: The Internal Process

This phase can look and feel like periods of idleness or even depression where you might feel like you’re trying to find your way in the fog. Think of it like spending time in your own cocoon while you rewrite your life story with a new and better ending.

As frustrating as this phase of transition can be, it’s extremely important to give yourself permission to give into it because this is a natural part of the transition into a new and better reality.

Phase 3: Embracing the Change

The third phase is all about regaining your forward momentum. It’s not necessary to have all the answers at this point merely that you have come to terms with the reality of the change and are able to focus on building the future.

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. ~Maya Angelou

Change is inevitable in life; however growth is optional and is always up to you. The more aware you are of your feelings and what matters most to you, the easier and more rewarding the transition will be. By giving yourself time to adjust to a change … letting go of what was, celebrating the good and forgiving the bad … you open yourself to all of the possibilities for the future … and you may just discover your new reality far exceeds your previous vision for your best life.

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.

 

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  1. Marquita, this is such an important distinction. I love your 3 steps. When I turned 60 I was whining about it until a close friend pointed out how much wonderfulness I had in my life. It helped me totally change my attitude and embrace it. Then I celebrated with 2 big parties and an entirely new outlook!
    Diane Howell Topkis recently posted…How to Carve Out Creative TimeMy Profile

  2. Change is a funny thing…and so is my reaction to it. On the one hand I dislike monotony and can easily embrace certain types of changes, even when the change was not something I’d personally planned for. On the other hand, I actively dislike to have a routine that I’ve established, and is working well, disrupted. As a result I could do exactly as you said, waste a lot of time fighting it or being resentful. In the final analysis, it’s less energy and less stress to go through the processes you mentioned, if there is little one can do about the changes. This is something I’ve personally had to admit and accept as I face huge changes in my life in the next few months.

  3. I really loved your article. The part I have always struggle when it comes to change is that I never let the transition sink in long enough and this creates an everlasting inner uncertainty which has often caused me to not embrace the newness of change. I’ve been known to make too many changes because of that. Your post helped me understand. Great share!!
    Nathalie Villeneuve recently posted…Get Rid of What Doesn’t Serve YouMy Profile

  4. Excellent article. I’ve been talking and writing about this recently. I’ve been doing transitions myself . I enjoyed this immensely and Joseph Campbell is a favorite of mine.

  5. Sue Kearney
    Twitter:
    says:

    As someone who was blindsided by some big changes over the summer, I really appreciate your words today. Thank you.

    I’ve been all about regaining my momentum, which was stopped cold by my health crisis. In order to do so I had to learn to reassess what forward can look like. It can be a walk around the block (a s-l-o-o-o-o-w walk at that). It can be eating more than once a day. It can be napping despite my judgement about napping.

    I am surprisingly grateful for the dramatic changes; I’ve learned so much, and my gratitude has deepened and deepened some more.

    Blessings!
    Sue
    Sue Kearney recently posted…Gratitude, and more, as the Harvest Moon shines down on us…My Profile

  6. Chery Schmidt
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hello Marty, Wow what an article! The steps you laid out are all so perfect, I wish I had read something like this 4 years ago, it would have saved me so many hours of heart ache, but I guess it has all worked itself out.

    I just love visiting your blog, the way you write is so engaging to me.. The 3 ways your presented to help with change..

    Thanks for all you do my friend.. Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt recently posted…Want A Successful Online Business? Then Avoid The Bullshit!My Profile

  7. Mark
    Twitter:
    says:

    What a great read Marquita!

    And I really love the way you articulated the subtle differences between change and transition.

    But I must take issue with one thing you mentioned!

    I don’t necessarily agree that when your change involves adopting a healthier lifestyle, one has to necessarily give up those healthy glazed donuts!LOL!

    That’s a bit drastic don’t you think!LOL!

    And I really love your opening sentence, where you say, “Change, we love to hate it and invest a significant amount of energy avoiding it.”

    That is so price less!

    Because that certainly describes me to a tee at certain posts in my life!

    This was truly an excellent and another extremely well written post M!

    Thanks! And it’s my complete pleasure to share it!
    Mark recently posted…Three Ways Your Typical Mutual Fund Is A Lot Like A Really Good Marketing Plan!My Profile

    • martyherald says:

      Ha! Seriously Mark, about the donuts. It’s really just about moderation. Some people have the discipline to occasionally treat themselves, while others have to totally purge the bad stuff. Food can be every bit as much of an addiction for some people as drugs are for others. It’s really up to the individual to know what’s best or them. As always, appreciate your thoughtful commentary. 🙂

  8. Marla
    Twitter:
    says:

    Insightful as always Marquita. I think it’s really important to give ourselves permission to create the space and take the time we need for phase 2.

    Sometimes I think there’s pressure to ‘get on with it’ or ‘get over it’ without making the most of the insight and growth that can be gained through the inner work.

    That said, it’s important to make sure you don’t get stuck there, knowing when it’s time to reach out for help when you need it.

    As for me, I love working with women in phase 3 – the possibilities of creating a new normal are so exciting and there’s nothing like seeing the glow of a woman who is embracing courage to live her truth.
    Marla recently posted…Midlife Career Reflection: What Am I Working For?My Profile

  9. Suzie Cheel
    Twitter:
    says:

    I love change and I especially love the 3 simple steps as you have presented. Letting go and forgiving seem to be the stumbling blocks for many I have discovered. and I love the Maya Angelou quotes. As usual I leave inspired and delighted
    namaste
    Suzie
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…22 Quotes To Inspire Your Creative HeartMy Profile

  10. Marty, An important life change that most of us do not talk about or even think about until it creeps up on us, is aging. With the aging process, there comes a time when some of our former activities must either be altered or completely stopped. Some of our favorite sports activities or taking a leisurely drive may have to be curtailed. If we have physical ailments, injuries, surgeries or if our eyesight is not as good, we cannot participate in activities that we may have once felt we could not live without. But if we have encountered change before, faced it and struggled with the inner work, and then embraced the change to move forward, we can then do the same as we age. One thing that is certain in life is that everything WILL change.
    Thank you for another insightful and helpful article.
    Warmly,
    Dr. Erica
    Dr. Erica Goodstone recently posted…A Call to Bring Healing to the World Through Talk and TouchMy Profile

  11. Sebastian Aiden Daniels
    Twitter:
    says:

    The transitions that accompany dramatic change can be tough and at the same time they are often when we experience the most growth, but only like you said, if we are willing. Growth is optional.

    Time is the most important factor. It takes time to transition. Keep up the good work : D.
    Sebastian Aiden Daniels recently posted…The Importance of the Concept of InterbeingMy Profile

  12. Terry
    Twitter:
    says:

    Many times I embrace change. Sometimes not though and your words are encouraging.
    Terry recently posted…AdversityMy Profile

  13. Alan Jenkin
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for making the distinction between change and transition so clear, Marquita. It was something I had not really considered before.

    I found the three phases of the transition particularly interesting, and particularly appreciated your comment about giving ourselves permission to give in to Phase 2. I’m impatient by nature and tend to get very frustrated with spending time in Phase 2!

    Thanks for an insightful article.

    Alan
    Alan Jenkin recently posted…Increase Web Traffic and Gain Customers – Part 2My Profile

  14. Christina
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Marquita! I really appreciate your article, since I always seem to find myself in the period of some transition. Your outline of the stages of change are right on point and helpful.
    ~Christina

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