The real struggle of transition
Transition could have different meanings for different people and also different meanings for the same person at different stages of their life. In our adult working life, there are some transitions which are expected like changing the place of work, change in the manager that we report to or the team that we belong in. Because these are expected or considered to be ‘normal’ we tend to push ourselves to adapt to them without the emotional processing that is needed to ‘cope’ with them. Many transition management and coaching programs address the strategic steps to ensure transitions are successful. Through my experience of moving through personal transitions as well as coaching multiple people through different walks of life to move through change, there are two underlying aspects of successful transition management that I would like to bring out here.
First, address the fear. Change – whether expected or unexpected, planned or unplanned is met with an emotional response which is fear or excitement – and often – both! What paralyses us from taking action or enjoying the process of change is the predominant grip of fear. We often look for answers about this fear by asking the question: “what do I fear?” “what is the maximum that will go wrong?” and try to motivate ourselves to move forward. The gap that I have noticed is that these questions further push one to the future without addressing the fear of loss which is in one’s present. Changing the above questions to questions like, “what am I scared of losing?” “what do I leave behind that I will miss the most?” may help one come closer to what we fear the most and find those things, those people and those skills needed to help move towards the future.
Second, commit to the decision. You would have heard some common advices to people facing change as “try it and see”, “you can always return to where you were” etc. While the speaker has good intention and tries to cajole the receiver towards action, what we underplay through these conversations is the importance of committing to a decision to change or committing to change itself. This commitment can be extremely therapeutic but firstly not leaving the decider in an ambiguous spot and they can fully commit their emotions towards envisioning the next step of their life. Secondly, it channelizes one to finding solutions that will work as looking back or reverting to what they knew to be normal isn’t an option they are playing with at present. Thirdly, it helps one seek out those people and those stories where change was successful. When one starts looking for what can change bring me rather than what will change take away from me, one’s chances of being successful increase.
While in some spaces change management is logistics management in terms of figuring out so many things that are needed to have things structurally fall into place, change management from a deeper perspective is also mastery over one’s fears, preset notions and the ability to develop an openness to experience. With these fundamentals in place, one can explore possibilities through development of the skill sets that are needed!
Is your organization going through change? Well, which organizations isn’t?! Reach out to us at Human Dynamic for a confidential discussion on how we can partner to support the people and the organization lead change!
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Director of Leadership & Learning, Senior Consultant
PhD (Clinical Psychology), MA(Psychology)