“Don’t just GO through life, GROW through life!”
Growing through life means learning from your experiences and your challenges. Showing a level of development and maturity when you are transitioning through life’s changes (expected or unexpected). Accepting that situations are temporary and adapting as you enter a new chapter.
Going through life means having the mindset of, “Life is what it is”. Going through the motions, feeling victimized because of the lack of control you have over life’s never-ending changes.
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Seventeen years ago, I pulled the driver’s side door of my 2000 Expedition closed, looked in my review mirror at my three excited dogs, and it wasn’t until that moment it hit me; I was really moving from Kansas to Colorado.
I was leaving my job, my friends, my family, and a state I had lived in for 20 years. A transition I wanted, but also one that brought tears to my eyes as I pulled out of the driveway and headed down the highway.
I love my life in Colorado and am so happy I made that transition to be here, but I can still look back on how that day and how the entire 9-hour-drive filled me with anxiety, doubt and confusion.
Life transitions are challenging because they force us to let go of the familiar and confront the future with a feeling of vulnerability. Most of us recognize that change in life is inevitable and that life is full of transitions. These transitions can be positive or negative, planned or unexpected. They may be exciting and invigorating but they can also be filled with anxiety and apprehension.
The author of the book “Transitions”, by William Bridges, PhD, believes that although change is constant, it is the transition that is more difficult to adapt to.
Change, he says, is situational: Attending a new school, accepting a new job, the birth of a child, the loss of a friend, the breakup of a partnership, losing a job.
Transition, on the other hand, is psychological: He states it’s a three-phase process that people go through as they internalize and come to terms with the new situation that the change brings about:
- Letting go of the old ways and the old identity. This first phase of transition is an ending, and the time when you need to help people to deal with their losses.
- Going through an in-between time when the old is gone but the new isn’t fully operational. He calls this time the “neutral zone”: It’s when the critical psychological realignments and repatterning’s take place.
- Coming out of the transition and making a new beginning. This is when you develop the new identity, experience the new energy, and discover the new sense of purpose that makes the change begin to work.
I believe that we transition while we are experiencing life’s changes. I’ve talked about the stages of change before:
Stage 5 is remarkably similar to Dr. Bridges phase 3, it’s this “acceptance phase” which we ultimately arrive too. Interestingly enough we have also seen this when I have discussed the final stage of grief.
Resisting change is natural because there is fear of losing something of value, not being able to adapt, or not liking the outcome of the transition. Transitioning through change can be stressful because you are moving out of your comfort zone. Transitions require you to leave something behind so that you can embrace the next chapter that is waiting for you.
Four P’s Of Transitioning Through Change
- Patience: Being a Virgo, planner who doesn’t even like to wait for the water to boil before putting in the pasta…I get it, this isn’t always the easiest. Allow yourself time to adjust, transition is a process, take it day-by-day.
- Ponder: Take time to reflect on what you have learned. Your last chapter, or the new change that you are now transitioning through, has taught you something; reflect on what that was. Each challenge you have experienced can teach you skills on how to be more adaptable during your future transitions.
- Proactive: If you don’t put in the effort, you aren’t going to get the results. If you have ended a relationship and are ready to start dating again, Prince/Princess Charming “most likely” isn’t going to just show up at your doorstep one day riding a white horse. You’ll have to start putting yourself out there, or at least keep an open mind to opportunities that present themselves. You have to be an active participant in your journey. You don’t always have to be “on” [of course give yourself time to process and take breaks from “the work”] but you can’t run a marathon if you don’t train…keep training.
- Positivity: Don’t be too hard on yourself. Even if the challenging change you are transitioning through is a result of your own actions, stop beating yourself up. Be kind to yourself, forgive yourself and look at # 2 again, reflect on what you have learned and how you have grown.
As you grow in life, change is inevitable. Although the transition through change can be challenging, it helps you grow and prepare yourself (even if ever so slightly) for the next change.
Whether you’re starting school, leaving school, changing jobs, newly married, newly divorced, moving, or retiring; transitioning through change brings both challenges and opportunities.
When you embrace change AND transition with a proactive mindset and a determination to grow from the experience, you may find that your effort pays off by making you a more capable, adaptable and STROFTER (Strong + Soft) person.
It can be hard work adjusting, reframing, and reorganizing your life as you transition through the changes you face. Rather than looking at the transition as something to be anxious about, try viewing it as an opportunity to GROW through life, rather than just GO through it.
Remember, You Got This!