Author, William Bridges wrote an excellent book, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, that has been followed, as many good works are, by sequels, the most recent of which is called, Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change. Change will continue to occur, throughout our lifetime, some predictable, some not so. A key point the author makes is that change triggers an internal psychological reorientation process in those who are affected, and expected to respond to the changes. Transition is this internal process that people must go through in order to come to terms with the new situation.
What does This Look Like?
There are predictable changes that occur in our lifetime. School graduations, new job/change job, getting married, having babies, raising babies, empty nest, retirement, and so on. Although we may know these seasons of life will occur, we are sometimes more ready than others, depending on many factors. It has been said that when change occurs, we should not lose sight of the fact that we are not only starting something new, we are stopping something (old) familiar. That familiar has grown to be comfortable or satisfactory, at some level. The new, is full of anticipation/anxiety, as there is not a track record.
Opportunity or Dread
How we view change will impact how we manage transition. If the anxiety/apprehension is high, it will often take on a sense of dread. If we identify some of the positive aspects of the “new,” it will take on a more positive look of opportunity. In a workplace situation, it would be important for leadership or management to be aware of the human transition process for adaptation. In relationship situations, it would be important to realize the transition process takes time, and that it is not always smooth or linear.
What to Do
An effective way to manage change, and the accompanying transition, is to try to take what is understood about the whole, and to break it down into smaller manageable parts. This will decrease the sense of feeling overwhelmed, while increasing one’s sense of control. In larger workplaces, industrial/organizational psychologists can be helpful resources. For others, Employee Assistance Programs can be helpful resources, or, point people to helpful resources such as Life Coaches and counselors. Remembering self-care, which includes exercise, nutrition, relaxation, recreation, and fellowship, are keys to managing change, and transition more effectively and comfortably.
Mr. David Wiley, MS, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor at Miller Counseling Services. He has practiced in a variety of behavioral health settings in the Triangle area of North Carolina since 1981, including innovative approaches to substance abuse and chronic pain management, crisis intervention, as well as working with relationship issues with couples and families. Areas of interest, and expertise include: mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, substance abuse education/screening/outpatient follow-up, ADD/ADHD, relationship/premarital/marital counseling along with co-therapy, stress/pain management including biofeedback modality, life transition issues especially with college students as well as older adults, adolescent counseling.