Every new milestone brings with it a new challenge we must face. Does that sound like a contradiction? Aren’t milestones simply an opportunity to celebrate progress and growth? Yes and no.
Yes – milestones reached are a reason to celebrate!
Take this week in my life. I reached a milestone: I started driving after 710 days of being “off the road” due to my injuries. Driving was a celebration! As I drove down the middle of town and looked at the buildings from the drivers seat brought a smile to my face because of my new found independence and freedom.
BUT THERE IS MORE…
Milestones reached are not always disturbance free.
Now that I can drive, I have decisions to make. More options to consider. More freedom yet more responsibility. I need to get started with a gradual work re-entry process. I can now do errands and go places. I can say yes to things I said no to before. But I have blogs to write, exercising to do, a Physiotherapist to see and a leg that still needs me to pace myself and continue in its healing. I can now have more surgery since my leg is getting back to 100% weight bearing.
What is going on? It’s called transition.
William Bridges who wrote a book on transition puts it this way: “It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions.” He describes change as situational while transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with their new situation.
There are three phases in the process of transition.
- An ending – where you let go of something you’ve been holding on to.
- A neutral zone – a feeling compared to a wilderness or dry desert experience.
- A new beginning – a place where you find yourself stronger and renewed.
The journey of the Israelites coming out of Egypt, wandering in the desert and then entering into the promised land is a good example of the transitional process. They had to leave behind what they knew, be shaped in character and behavior while in the wilderness, then go in to the new land they were ready to take over.
Without a wilderness, there is no new beginning.
Every time I have reached a new milestone in my recovery, I’d been excited for the progress but have had to give myself time to adjust emotionally and physically before actually entering into that new place.
What do you need to keep in mind when facing changes and the partnering transition resulting from those changes (health related or otherwise)?
- Learn – take to heart the idea that transition is often a roller coaster process
- Search – look for a higher purpose during your transition and for your life
- Lean – don’t run from the wilderness but lean into it and grow through it
- Plan – put in place strategies to walk slowly through your transition
- Ask – ask friends, family and wise people to help you process your thoughts and feelings
- Trust – trust the three phase process to eventually reap the fruit of a new beginning if you hang in there
A Few Transition and Change Quotes to Reflect On
It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change
or so in love with the old ways,
but it’s that place in between that we fear…
It’s like being between trapezes.
It’s Linus when his blanket is in the dryer.
There’s nothing to hold on to. (Marilyn Ferguson)
Before you can begin something new,
you have to end what used to be.
Before you can become a different kind of person,
you must let go of the old identity.
Beginnings depend on endings. (William Bridges)
All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy;
For what we leave behind is part of ourselves;
We must die to one life before we can enter into another. (Anatole France)
What changes in your life have thrown you into transition?
What have you done to deal with it?
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