How do you see transition?

Is it a pain to deal with? Or does it get you excited?

People can argue that it depends on the situation and for some, anything would be better than where they are now. Yet for all they talk about in regards to change, they don’t think about how they are experiencing transition and if they are making the best of it.

I have always thought of myself as great at adapting to change. Whenever I would move to a new place, I would settle down pretty fast and get on with my life. However, the latest changes have sparked some new questions and made me re-evaluate how I was going through this transition.

Here is the main question: how can someone best take advantage of a transition period?

Use of Awareness

When big changes happen, you are forced to take another look at how you go about your daily activities. At home, this could be your eating or sleeping habits. In the workplace, this could be auditing your processes. As a leader, this might be taking another look at your leadership style and how your team is currently positioned.

Change is always constant but being in a period where you formally recognize that change is happening makes you far more aware of it. And this creates opportunities for you.

The human brain is designed to create habits and run on autopilot through those habits. As specific neural pathways are created, intentionally or not, the brain’s signals will choose the pathways that it is already familiar with over newer pathways.

Were you ever doing something monotonous, like brushing your teeth, and got lost in your thoughts? Because the task of brushing your teeth is so ingrained in you, you don’t even have to think to do it. You run on autopilot.

Now what if you were like this elsewhere in your life? What if you were automatically acting a certain way and not knowing if that was hurting you or not?

In the workplace, one specific article about arrogance talks about how easy it is to not realize that you are being snobby. Those have become habits, ingrained in us, and we don’t question them. Until we reach a period of transition, that is.

With enough time, you will settle in and the transition period will be over. Before that happens, why not audit how you approach different areas in your life? This is the best time to create new processes and start new habits, reinforced by changes in your environment.

Habit Breakers

This is for when you aren’t in an easily recognizable transition period.

If you want to break away from being on auto-pilot all the time, start off with doing little things differently. This could as simple as sitting in a different chair than usual. You can try a new cafe. Walk down a different path back from work.

The purpose of changing minor details like these is to offer you a fresh perspective. You pay attention more when you don’t know what to expect. That forces you to get off autopilot.

Doing these small steps consistently sets you up for bigger successes.

Afterwards you could even start tackling bigger habits that you want to change. The key is to focus on a small step that has an impact on what you want to do. You can use the Japanese concept of Kaizen as an example, where you practice doing something you want to for only one minute every day at the same time.

Consistently repeating that step builds up to enormous progress in time. Before you know it, you will have altered both your perspective and your habits.

Downward Spiral

The harsh side of transitions comes out when you’re going from a rock to a hard place. Knowing that you will end up worse off makes undergoing the change especially hard. And that’s normal. The question is how are you going to let it affect your life more than it has to.

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

Whether it’s losing half your business, an illness, a loss of a loved one or hitting rock bottom, unfortunate events will happen from time to time. That will hurt and you should take the time to acknowledge it. However, you decide whether and how you’re going to get back up and make something of what you still have.

And for those who aren’t dealing with this kind of transition, even a change for the better can elicit some harsh thoughts from within.

Transition has a way of making you think about what you’ve done to get up to this point. If regret comes up (hint: it will) and you allow it to fester, what happens? You wallow in all of your should-haves, could-haves and would-haves. This throws you into a downward spiral.

Instead of getting lost in this, take yourself out of this whole narrative you’re telling yourself. Observe the effect these kind of thoughts are having on you. Acknowledge why they strike a chord with you.

Desperately throwing yourself in a constant battle with your inner critics will not save the day. But starting to do this may bring you more peace and hopefully save you from having a bad mood the rest of your day.

And So…

Being in a period of change is so interesting in how more easily influenced you are. That can either help you or hurt you, depending on how you use it.

But why not take the opportunity to take change by the reins and steer it in the direction that you want to go in? Your perspective determines how you take it, even the most outrageous events that life throws at you.