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08.29.2019 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

Are You in Transition?

A number of people are coming my way who are in some type of work or life transition.

Transition can be messy. It’s often clouded in uncertainty and confusion with perhaps a little remorse sprinkled in. It doesn’t seem to matter what the transition is about, the people I’m encountering often express a sense of loss that isn’t necessarily tied to anything concrete. They often describe a sense of emptiness that they can’t quite put their finger on.

What they do know is that something needs to be left behind in order for them to figure out what’s next. That letting go process is a difficult one to maneuver no matter how successful you’ve been.

Part of my job is to help these people see the hidden dynamics that may be underlying this process so that they can move through it with greater clarity and ease.

When my clients express the anxiety and worry they’re experiencing, I try to offer them another perspective. One intended to help them see the normalcy of what they’re experiencing. One thing is certain: Letting go and moving on is part of the developmental process.

What Do I Mean By Developmental Process?

When we’re moving from one developmental stage to another, we can often feel this sense of confusion and loss.

Here’s an overly simplified example:

Can you remember what it was like the first day of school when you transitioned from Elementary to Middle? Throughout the summer, you were probably that same elementary school kid who enjoyed swimming, riding your bike, or playing your video games.

Just a few months before, you were at the top of the food chain. Now, on day one of Middle School, you’re suddenly a minnow again. Nothing seems to fit right— including you.

Now that you’re connected with this “older” group, you know you’re supposed to have different interests, but somehow you’re not quite there. Your thoughts, desires, and, yes, even your hormones are different. You want different things, you just don’t know what they are much less how to get them.

Developmental shifts such as this don’t just end when we become adults. If we’re lucky (and don’t fall into the trap of stagnation), they continue throughout the course of our lives. So, if you’re in this sticky place of transition, the good news is, you’re growing.

So, I’ve offered you a concrete example of a transition that we’ve all experienced. What I want you to know is that adult developmental movement is much like this only harder because we often have carved out a life for ourselves that no longer makes sense. This is where the confusion and self-doubt comes in.

Maybe you’ve been successful, maybe you haven’t. Either way, you’ve been awakened to the fact that you want something more, but the path just isn’t clear.

Many of the clients I seem to be attracting, then, are trying to make meaning out of what’s next whether it’s how to live a more meaningful life, how to step into the next big opportunity, or how to leave a lasting legacy.

When we’re in a developmental period of transition, it helps to notice what’s showing up in your world. The subtle things that are making you feel like you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time are often signals that alert us to the things we need to let go of in order to step into whatever’s next.

I’ve learned that the more uncomfortable I am with the transition, the more I need to lean into it because it typically means something amazing is about to happen. If you ignore the subtle signs of transition, you may miss this amazing thing altogether. Move too quickly, and you may force something before it’s time.

One final thought to consider. When we’re in the midst of transition, we’re often too close to the fire to find our way down the stairwell. Find a mentor, colleague, or coach who can help you see what is not yet apparent to you. This person will be able to help you figure out how to meld your existing strengths with what is yet to unfold. He or she will also help you crystalize a strategy moving forward.

It’s never too late to transition to a new stage of development. And, it’s never too late to reinvent who you are because nothing is wasted. In the world of developmental movement, everything transcends and includes. All you need to do is be intentional in how you engage in this process of metamorphosis.

Question of the Week:

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned about yourself while in some form of transition?

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. August 29, 2019