By Naomi Atwater
With many of us recently graduating, moving, or changing jobs, the summer months have caused us to have to adjust to new routines, people, and environments. According to the UH Blog (The Top 5 Most Stressful Life Events), the top stressful experiences include the death of a loved one, divorce, moving, major illness or injury, and job loss. It will not take long to guess that the common denominator in all these events involves going through some sort of transition. And if not now, we are guaranteed to experience some of these transitions throughout our lives.
The art of transitioning well involves not only seeing an opportunity for a fresh start but also a chance to bring with us the areas we were able to grow in.
After interviewing people with significant experience with transitioning throughout their lives, including moving countries, states, schools, jobs, and friends, their advice to their younger selves agreed upon a few common themes.
“Say goodbye to people, places, and things intentionally.”
Make a list of all the things you are sad to leave, even if it is only in a small way. Are there people you still wish to spend time with? Places you want to visit one more time? Things you always did that you want to remember. Remember the value in knowing specifically what you need to process parting with and take advantage of the moments to do the activity once more, get coffee with a friend, or sit in your favorite place one last time.
“Know what to let go and what to hold on to.”
Sometimes we have an assumption that says we must uproot everything from the past when we start something new. Although things do change, being able to bring parts of your life with you carries a comforting aspect, and reminds you of the old seasons, how you grew, and how it got you to where you are.
One child of a missionary family that moved around every couple of years throughout her entire life experienced transition after transition in nearly every area of life. She describes how her mother would decorate their home the same way in each place they lived, creating a comforting consistency. Although the spaces, people, and everything else about life were different, their family and house style stayed the same and comforted her each time.
“Find three things you’re excited about in the transition.”
When we leave something that we love, we think about all the sad goodbyes and the things we must grieve. Although taking the time to process these things is good, there is also a time to look forward to what is to come. Whether the new people you will get to meet or the activities that will change, or even being excited to be closer to achieving a goal that has been in your mind, keep in mind what is exciting about the upcoming days.
“Take it one step at a time, and do not throw yourself in. Be careful to not burn out going too fast.”
We often want to learn everything, meet everyone, and jump in fast so that life can feel normal again. However, the ideal plan in our heads often does not usually happen as quickly as we expect. Plan for small steps at a time to make it easier, and do not discount the amount of time it takes to settle into the new.
“Be prepared to be uncomfortable for a little bit. Life won’t feel normal and expect it not to be the same. It will take longer than you think for your new every day to feel normal.”
Even if we are excited about the possibilities, transitions come with a lot of uncertainty. The new normal will not feel very normal for a while and having this as an expectation helps us adjust to the new normal. Even expect the adjustment to the new normal to take longer than you might think.
Use your transition period to close out a season and open a new one. See the opportunity to set yourself up for success and to bring the growth parts of the past with you into your next episode as you transition well.