5 Reasons People Fail to Grow Through Transition

Recently, while introducing a workshop on the topic of transitions, I conducted an experiment. I asked the attendees to introduce themselves to someone new and to only talk about things in their lives which were NOT changing. The conversation dragged on for a few minutes. Energy and interest remained low. Next, I gave them permission to talk about anything and everything in their lives related to change. Life and energy returned to the room. It was hard to break up the conversations.

The Reminder? Transition is a universal part of all our lives. It’s where we all find common ground and interest. Transition trends among us.

Change is trending because it's always constant and arresting our attention. Just as all things trending rank high in number of online searches and views, transition trends among us, capturing our attention, occupying our thoughts and conversations.

How has transition impacted you? Do you feel victimized by it? Blessed because of it? Challenged through it?

Given its universality, we would do well to maximize the personal and professional benefits transition seasons offer. Whether we initiate a transition ourselves or it happens to us, why leave the process up to chance? How can we navigate the waters of transition more purposefully?

As a coach I help people get intentional with transition. As a fellow transitioner, I've struggled to find reasons why some of my own transitions haven't been as successful as they could have been. 

Here's 5 Reasons why people fail to grow through transition….

Not establishing clear goals. I once thought goals were somewhat useless during seasons of change because transition messes with them too much. The opposite is true. The fact is setting goals, personal and professional, is the SMART way to navigate change. Having goals through a difficult transition can greatly increase the potential to stay the course when obstacles surprise us and expectations aren't met.

Not setting aside time and space for processing. Failure is linked to forging ahead during transition seasons without due diligence. That due diligence consists of finding ways to reflect and process. A good balance of personal reflection and processing with a coach you can trust is the path to success.

Falling back into old habits. Transition paths are often marked by signs along the way, ones which tell us to break away from the old patterns and habits which got us stuck in the first place. The perfect opportunity to dislodge old lifestyle and work habits that aren’t serving us well is when we're going through a season of change.

The fear of risk. This is a big one. We fear what we don’t know, and transition and the unknown are blood brothers. While risking it all to pursue our dreams sounds glamorous, and the potential to maximize growth opportunities in change is never higher, fear of failure might be something we need to confront. The bigger the transition, the more potential to be paralyzed by fear.

Taking an all or nothing approach.  I used to think that everything needs to change when transition calls. No stone left unturned was my motto. Now I realize this isn’t necessarily true. In fact it’s rarely true. God has always been gracious to to leave me some “holds” during a transition climb to keep me hopeful on the journey upward. As William Bridges puts it, 

As rock climbers try to move only one hand (or foot) at a time, keeping the other three points of contact with the rock solid, so the person in transition will usually do well to use the rest of his or her life as a series of “holds” while making a transition elsewhere.
— The Way of Transition

One final thought...

What if we were to visualize transition as a coin, marked by resistance on one side and growth on the other? When we find ourselves resisting change, could we be sabotaging our own growth? What side of the coin are you on today?