Job or business transitions can be stressful—whether they’re due to layoff, returning to work after an absence, starting a new job, or working extra hours because other workers were laid off. Business owners may experience team turnover, the loss of a major client, or revenue fluctuations that create cash flow havoc.
There are many types of transitions, and anything that is changing your current situation qualifies. Whether positive or negative, every transition teaches us valuable lessons if we are curious and interested in learning. If you’re facing a transition, pay attention to the emotional aspects, as well as the actual changes occurring and the financial implications, and consider the following.
1. Take an honest look at yourself. What are your strengths, weaknesses, skills? How did those influence—positively or negatively—the transition you are experiencing? How have you managed the transition emotionally? Did you know that circumstances were changing for a while and yet did not take action? Where can you find resources to weather a work upset?
I often hear that people expected a change was coming in their work. They often contemplated a move long before their actual transition began. Their intuition was likely speaking to them and they either weren’t tuned in, or did not choose or know how to address the message.
Understanding the emotions you feel in transitional times will help you to deal with those feelings so they don’t cause you to react improperly. Just like the nervous feelings you may have before a presentation, getting used to the butterflies (knowing you won’t die) allows you to stay the course and not overreact in those moments. Or, maybe you should react, but it’s imperative to be able to assess the options with a clear head before doing so.
2. Increase your self-care. Major changes are physically and emotionally taxing. You may feel less inclined to take care of yourself than you would when you feel great. The need to maintain optimal well-being increases with transition, and with diminishing enthusiasm it will feel forced sometimes, but that’s okay. You need self-care now more than ever.
Even if you are frantic about moving on or otherwise solving the situation you are in, carve out the time daily (preferably an hour) to engage in the activities that are fun, calming and improve physical and mental health.
3. Engage your curiosity. What went wrong, or right? What could you have done better? What did you do really well? Where could this lead? Now that is a great question! Sleep on that and see what ideas show up.
Engaging curiosity does not mean opening the floodgates for the nasty, inner voice to enter with predictions of homelessness and devastation. Curiosity differs from judgement in its objectivity. Beating yourself up is not curiosity, it’s cruelty. You wouldn’t speak to a friend in that manner, and being kind to yourself is fundamental to the self-care you are advised to practice.
4. Focus more on what you want, and less on what you don’t want. This is a profoundly simple concept and yet can be very difficult to implement. Focusing on what you want is similar to “setting intention” and this is one of my top five coaching tips, if not number one. Keep your mind’s eye on the prize-always. And when it veers off, bring it back to focus.
You must know what you want and that might take some effort to figure out. You may need to make difficult decisions that require time. If you must start with somewhat vague intentions or images of what you desire and work your way to more specificity, do that. It is not about knowing how you will achieve what you want (that can be determined later so don’t let “the how” question trip you up).
5. Know where your thoughts go. The process of noticing where your thoughts go, and then reigning them in and deciding where you will take subsequent thoughts, is control and magic wrapped up together. This is the clean fuel that will efficiently and effectively take you where you want to go.
Although this might be the most important point so far, it’s easier to implement once you have worked on points one through four. Sandra Yancey (CEO and founder of Ewomen Network) says “Success isn’t for the chosen few, it’s for those who choose it.” Your thoughts reflect your choices back to you. Redirect them when necessary.
6. Enlist support. Since your transition affects your family as well, it is better to seek the outside support of friends or professionals. I included friends, but you will want to assess the friends carefully when looking to them for support. How do they react to transition? Is their approach something you admire? Overall, it’s the outsiders (chosen wisely) who will help you to create positive transformation out of transition.
Those in your family are thrown into transition along with you, and their own fears and perceptions of the situation can inadvertently create obstacles and negativity. They too, may need support. Maintaining open communication is critical during times of transition, but solutions may best be found outside the home, where others can offer unique and objective perspectives.
7. Open your mind. Support works best for those with a receptive mind. One that is willing to listen, absorb new ideas and to contemplate fresh outlooks before jumping to the phrase, “I can’t because….”
Especially when under intense stress, your body and brain react in ways that limit expansive thinking. The survival responses take over and it is more difficult to see beyond the immediate problem.
Certainly, seeing a serious dilemma as a potential opportunity doesn’t happen in a closed mind. Engage the body physically (even 20 jumping jacks) to help your mind reset. Give yourself some time to see your situation in a new way. Many solutions exist for every difficulty.
8. Create your own rite of passage. Ceremony and ritual help with all transitions. If you feel yourself floundering, create structure. Manage your time with creative blocks of priority items. Create a gratitude ritual (I know it has been said so often, but it is because it’s important and it really helps). Find your spiritual side and create a daily ritual to connect with something greater.
Celebrate every small success or victory that you can find. Dwell on it for a minute (or more), take it in, write it down. Reflect on it before moving on to the next issue at hand. Remind yourself of what you are capable of by acknowledging the positive thoughts or actions you take that can improve your transition.
9. Let go of how things were “supposed to be” and accept “how things are.” Find appreciation for what is. Check out the works of Byron Katie for more on this subject. I have both said the words and heard many others say, “at this point, I should be….”
At this age, I should be financially secure. After this many years in business, I should be earning X, or working less.
There are so many shoulds in life. And who in the world made these ideas so prevalent? The shoulds are ridiculous and based on the idea that everyone’s life follows similar paths and encounters the same everything. It is a false narrative. Go for what you want and need and eliminate the comparisons.
10. Forgive. No matter who or what may have lent a hand in your current transition, holding others as responsible can only go on so long. It just becomes an obstacle, regardless of it’s validity. When someone else is responsible for your situation, you are not. You have lost control.
Take back responsibility for your life by forgiving anyone you need to forgive. You can release the negativity brought on by their actions. Without condoning what they have done, you can release their hold on you, and move forward.
This list will help you to best cope with transition, however, if it is a lot to tackle, find the areas that you most need to address and start there. The last thing one needs when going through changes is to be further overwhelmed by self help.
Breathe, choose one thing, focus and celebrate when you do what you said you would do and you begin to see positive results.