|Most of us would agree that the last few years have been some of the most challenging times of our lives. These years have been a truly “dark night of the Soul” period.|
There is so much change in our world right now, it is confusing about what is really happening. Several of my clients asked me to define and discuss the difference between change and transition.
In his book, Managing Transitions, author William Bridges defines change as “situational.” Change could include working from home or working with a new boss, homeschooling children, ordering food online, or having your doctor’s appointment on Zoom.
There are also systemic changes occurring rapidly throughout our world in areas such as education, politics, medicine, and our environment, all of which impact our lives.
Change in itself is not a transition, Bridges explains. “Transition is the internal psychological process we go through to come to terms with the new external situation such as divorce, loss, death, isolation, fear of the pandemic, loss of job, a business, or a marriage, and relocation.
Change is external. Transition is internal.
Transitions are the internal shifts in our identity that help us adjust to deep external changes that we are experiencing. These are psychological issues that must be overcome or moved through before we can move ahead.
Often people get stuck in their old beliefs, shut down, and refuse to go through the doorway of change and allow for good endings.
All transition starts with an ending in mind.
Even if change is good, one must let go of something to make that change. When you let go of what is holding you back, you are in a neutral or wilderness space and time, and the ending is still not clear, or even perceivable.
We make new beginnings only if we experience successful, healthy endings. So it goes:
Endings first, then the neutral zone, and then new beginnings.
It has always been difficult for most of us to accept change and move through transitions to achieve new beginnings. And today’s rapidly changing world doesn’t make it any easier.
So be kind to yourself and others during this challenging time as we all navigate our external world to make successful transitions. Trust in yourself and others that we can, and we will!
Do you have patterns in how you deal with endings?
What endings are incomplete in your life?
Do you accept that someone or something has passed?
Please let me know if you have any questions about your transitions.
According to Abraham Maslow’s higher order of needs, we all need to feel our basic needs are met. During this time of loss, depression, and disconnection from each other, we are moving back and forth from our higher needs to our basic safety ones.
Take a minute to answer these questions and ask yourself, “Are my needs being met?”
- Are you eating healthfully?
- Are you giving your body enough exercise and sunshine
- Do you have emotional or physical issues that need more conscious attention?
- Are you getting enough rest and sleep?
- Are you feeling safe in your home and work environments?
If you are feeling frustrated with not reaching your higher potential, perhaps you can explore whether your basic needs are being met.
Contact me to schedule a 30-minute call and we will explore whether this is a good next step for you.
Have you had a wake-up call recently, such as an unexpected health crisis, a separation or divorce, or the loss of your job? Perhaps you just feel stuck or restless? Are you yearning for change?
These situations and emotions come with midlife, and this transition can be like falling down Alice’s rabbit hole: frightening, yet at the same time invigorating. Some people come out terrified while others are transformed. Some people renew their passion for a new life with gusto, and others ease along, making small but notable changes.
There is no right way or wrong way to transition through midlife. At some point, you may know you want to change your life, but you may have no idea where to begin and feel stuck. Yet, you simply have to do something!
It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you take some form of action! Do something to shift your life.
Get a new job, clean out your closets, retire a relationship that’s draining your energy, schedule your trek in the rainforest, move to a new city you love, join a group of like-minded boomers, volunteer to help people in another country, go back to school for fun or for a new career, take a dance class to learn to tango.
The unrest that occurs at this period is about sorting out and separating who you are becoming from who you have been. It is a time for deep introspection, and for exploring how you want to live this part of your life and how you want to become more authentically who you are.
These suggestions will help you get unstuck and get to your next step:
Step One: Schedule a quiet time to think about some of the questions maturing boomers must confront as they approach middle age, such as:
Do I want to spend the rest of my working life in my present career?
What would a career change mean at this point in my life?
What changes can I begin to make now to ensure better physical and psychological health for the rest of my life?
Am I really happy and content with my daily life now?
Step Two: Get clear about what you want for your life.
Develop a personal profile that highlights several areas: Your pleasures, your dream job or career, the subjects about which you want to learn more, your strengths and your areas for improvement.
Here’s a way to make your personal profile come alive: put together a picture board that displays all the things to which you are drawn or for which you have a passion, such as: a healthy body, gardening, resting at a spa, sailing, or a peaceful landscape. Cut photos from your favorite magazines to illustrate your passions and paste them on your “dream board.”
Give yourself permission to get in touch with your suppressed vision of who you truly are and how you want your life to actually be.
Step Three: Identify Obstacles and Outdated Beliefs
Do you have limiting thoughts that are holding you back?
Your set of beliefs, thoughts and lifestyle habits, which include your food choices, your form of exercise, your sleep patterns and stress level, can be an obstacle for living a healthy lifestyle. What are your thoughts and limiting behaviors?
Step Four: Take Action to Make Permanent Change
It is not enough to just verbalize or visualize your goals. You must have a plan and take steps to create what you want!
Action Steps: Write down your goals and action steps to achieve them during the next 3 months. Identify your strengths and areas for improvement in following up with your plan.
Step Five: Get Help to Hold Yourself Accountable
To help you manifest your goals and dreams, I recommend that you create accountability by finding a buddy, hiring a coach, or joining a group with like-minded people to help you reach you goals.
I recently had to ask myself “What do you really, really, really want for your life?
I mean from the bottom of your Soul what do you desire?
Alicia Keys, Grammy award singer, asked on the Voice, “Who are you? Whom will you allow yourself to be?
Well, I decided to explore the question more deeply.
My lease was up, I had some health issues, and I could not keep working in a career that was not supporting my dreams and visions.
I decided to leave Atlanta and spend some time with a friend at the beach in Saint Simons, GA.
This gave me some time to heal my body and to recommit to living my purpose.
The decision to leave my job, my friends, and the city I had lived in for 20 years was not easy. I had delayed this decision for years!
I HAD TO TAKE A LEAP OF FAITH.
I had to face intense fears, old beliefs, loss, grief, and deep sadness. I had to open my heart and become vulnerable and ask for guidance from a divine source.
I had to WALK THROUGH THE FIRE.
We are all living during one of the greatest periods of transformational change on the planet.
This transformational change or shift in consciousness requires us to make the needed change in our old outdated beliefs, repetitive thoughts, and unhealed wounds.
It requires us to face our fears, live more from the edge, be bold and take chances.
Here are a few of the things I did that helped me get more clarity and reconnect to my purpose.
- Meditated and prayed daily.
- Went outside to the beach or in the woods and connected with Nature.
- Reconfirmed my dreams and vision for my life.
- Refused to allow fear to destroy my vision for my life.
- Honored my creativity by taking art classes and listening to poetry.
Please let me know how you are dealing with your transformational changes. I really want to know!
I offer “DEEP COACHING” to explore what is happening in your life and to help clarify what you deeply desire for your life.
Perhaps you’ve experienced it at least once in your life – knowing deep inside that it’s time to take a big step, yet you can’t seem to do it. You know that it’s the right thing to do, and yet you resist. You postpone. You delay. You follow other distractions in order to avoid taking action. Let me assure you that you’re not alone. At some point in our lives, this happens to all of us. So the question is: Why do we resist taking the next big step, even when we know that it’s right?
The short answer: Because we sense that once we take that step, something significant will change. Maybe everything will change, and nothing will be the same again. And that can feel both exciting and scary.
Something big may be gained, yet something may also be lost. Some part of us really wants that change, yet another part avoids it. We can feel the tension and conflict inside – lots of stories in the head and turmoil in the belly. Our deep inner knowing tells us that in the bigger picture – in service of more than just us – it’s the right thing. Yet are we ready for what will come as a result? Are we ready for what is waiting just beyond our action?
At a fundamental level, these kinds of decisions are really about honoring our truth. They’re about speaking up for what is important to us or for what really matters – about stepping forward into the fullness of who we really are and the path we’re here to walk. These are the moments when we find out what we’re really made of.
And so what do we choose? Are we willing to trust that we will find our way if we are deeply honest with ourselves and live into what we believe and what we know to be true? Do we choose to step forward in the fullness of who we are – to take the step that we know deep inside is the right one, and embrace the changes that may come? Or do we choose to live in fear of what might happen – of what the future might hold – and step back?
Barack Obama said, “We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it.”
How do you choose to shape your future? How do we as a collective choose to shape our future?
If you choose to follow your deep inner knowing and to step more fully into all of who you are, you will probably experience challenges. It won’t always be smooth sailing. Yet Life has a way of carrying us when we are on the right path. From my own experience, I can assure you that, if you stay the course, you are likely to reap great rewards – great learning and big growth.
First, your sense of who you are and what your life is about will become stronger. You will further embrace the response-abilities that come with claiming your place in the world.
Second, your relationships with people, ideas, beliefs, possibilities, and the world around you, are likely to shift. How you move in the world and interact with others will change, because you will be thinking, feeling, and acting from a sense of clearer purpose and direction. Not every choice you make will turn out to be a long-term choice. You will go down some paths that you soon realize are not the right ones. It’s OK, just turn around and look for another path that is beckoning. Trust that every choice you make – every path that you explore – will bring you further insights and understanding and will help clarify and inform your next steps. Some you will stick with, others you will let go.
Third, you will experience new levels of freedom. You may not recognize that freedom right away. At first, the floodgates of emotion or reaction may break open, both within you and others, and it can become overwhelming. If that happens, keep breathing. Keep grounding deep inside yourself and in who you know yourself to be. Every time you intentionally step through your fear and resistance and stay the course that every fiber of your being tells you is yours, you walk in the truth of who you are. You stand more confidently in what you have to bring to the world. Eventually, you stop worrying about whether or not you can do it and you just do it!
Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
the step you don’t want to take.
In time, you will look back and be grateful that you took that big step. In fact, I look back over my life with incredible gratitude for every big step that I’ve taken. Every considered risk has paid off, even if not always as I had expected or hoped. Yet in retrospect, I see why I had to take that step and what became possible because of it. I’m taking big steps now. And more will come, I’m sure.
What is the next big step waiting for you? If you’ve been reluctant to take it, it’s OK. Just be honest and compassionate with yourself, and engage your fear. Ask your fear what is underneath the flashing lights and screaming sirens. What is the real message that it’s asking you to pay attention to? Respond to that message. Take care of what you can take care of; put everything into place that you can.
And then take the step. Trust that new doors will open. Trust that new possibilities will emerge that you hadn’t imagined. Life will carry you. And you will have taken another big step forward.
About the Author:
Alan Seale is an award-winning author, inspirational speaker, transformation catalyst, master teacher and mentor to many leaders and coaches, and the founder of the Center for Transformational Presence.