Getting Life “Transitions” Right

Our lives are periods of steady state interrupted by “transitions.” Transitions are events with a disruptive impact on our life. While transitions come in two flavors (welcome and unwelcome), they all induce a certain level of anxiety. Examples of transitions include things like a major promotion (say, CEO), a marriage (in my case, more than once), a job with a new company, a move to a new state or country (5 times in 4 states and 5 cities; Oh! And I moved from my native Lebanon to the United States right after High School), a natural disaster (fortunate not to have experienced any as of this writing), an unnatural disaster such as war (been through one for five years), a new baby (blessed with one boy and one girl), and the first few gray hairs (it has been a while and accelerating), to name a few.

All transitions are charged with powerful emotions. Depending on the nature and circumstances around a transition, these emotions can include excitement, sadness, happiness, confusion, anticipation, joy, disgust, anxiety, pride, wonder, and surprise to name a few (not in any logical order). Periods of steady state where we are doing relatively well create a certain level of comfort and contentment and cause us to drift sideways for a while until we make the next transition or when a transition intrudes, disrupts, and imposes itself on our life. During transitions, we are required to change in one or more ways, possibly causing pain or joy (hopefully, not both at the same time). For most of us, change usually carries a level of discomfort between 0 and 14 on a scale from 0 to 10. What has served me well during my life transitions has been my ability to view transitions as tools for learning and growing. To make it through the unwelcomed transitions that have imposed themselves on my life, I also developed a level of selective numbness to isolate and shrink their impact on other aspects of my life. Through the combination of learning, growing, and isolating, I managed to get my transitions as right as I could.

Think deliberately about your transitions and how you’ve dealt with them so far. What worked well for you? And what can you do better during future transitions? Whether we like it or not, transitions are an integral part of life. Let’s make the best of them.