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Dealing with Transitions (or how to cope with change).

Updated: May 10, 2022


We all go through many transitions or changes during our lifetimes. A mid-life career change or retirement are just 2 of many significant life changes. Other examples are moving house, graduating, losing a job, changing jobs, starting or ending a relationship, marriage, or experiencing the loss of a loved one. I know that I have experienced almost all of the life changes I have mentioned above, some more than once. How about you?

Why is change stressful?

Interestingly five of the events I have mentioned are in the ‘Top 10 Most Stressful Life Events’ on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. This is the scale used by doctors in the US to calculate the likelihood of stress-related illnesses. You can also complete your own test here if you are interested It is not surprising that this study found a strong relationship between these stressful life events and illness.

Life changes are inevitable yet can often be difficult to adapt to. If the change is desired or a chosen event rather than an unexpected or imposed change will make a big difference in the way people react to the situation. But it is perfectly normal for even a positive change to be stressful. Adjustment to change does not happen overnight. Even a desired change such as marriage or the birth of a child can take quite a long time to adjust to. This period of adjustment is known as transition, which is really the process of moving from one state to another.

What is transition?

Change is something that happens to people, even if they don't agree with it. Transition, on the other hand, is internal: it's what happens in people's minds as they go through change. Change can happen very quickly, while transition usually occurs more slowly.

What does a transition model look like?

In my work as a career change and retirement coach, I come across people in various stages of transition. I find that I can help my clients best when I guide them to focus on the feelings that are experiencing during this transition process. I base this approach on the Bridge’s Transition Model which makes a lot of sense to me.

The model highlights three stages of transition that people go through when they experience change. These are:

Ending, Losing, and Letting Go.

The Neutral Zone.

The New Beginning.

The model emphasizes the fact that every transition begins with an ending. We have to let go of the old thing before we can pick up the new one, not just outwardly but inwardly too. And then there follows an important ‘empty’ time before we are able to embrace the new beginning.

Bridges says that people will go through each stage at their own pace. For example, those who are comfortable with the change will likely move ahead to stage three quickly, while others will linger at stages one or two.

In Stage 1 you will experience a variety of emotions such as resentment, fear, anxiety, anger, resistance particularly if the change was imposed on them. Stage 2 is like the bridge between the old and new situation. You are likely to feel a lot of confusion and distress before leading into the New Beginning.


How can I help you with a transition?

I have discovered that, if I focus on the transition process and what is happening in your mind rather than the change itself, I am better able to guide you through the process, with a better outcome

If you think back to changes in your life, can you identify times when you may have started your new journey without unpacking the baggage from the old one? What was the outcome?

The transition from work to retirement is for many people, an unexpectedly difficult transition. Why? Because you have probably been looking forward to retirement for some time, but when the time comes you find the adjustment far more difficult than you expected. There are many reasons for this but that is the subject for another blog post.

Contact me

If you would like to have a chat about how I can help you with your transition to retirement or career change contact me here to book a complimentary call. You might also be interested in a 90 minute Power Career Coaching Package to help you with your transition. You will find details here

You might also like to read my blog posts on retirement here.

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