The best experiences can grow out of change . . . .
There is no doubt that we are in a season of change; we face new situations each day. New situations turn life upside down as we knew it. If we are to grow out of this new reality we will have to learn to manage the transition to the new normal. But what is the new normal? Defining that is part of the challenge of change.
There is a subtle but important difference between change and transition. Change is something that happens to us even if we don’t agree with it. Transition is the personal journey that carries us through the change; its want happens internally as we go through change.
Change can happen very quickly as with the 2020 Pandemic. Transition to adapt to the new reality occurs slowly. Here are some observations on how to manage transitions in a season of change.
Since 2011 we have worked with more than 400 seniors and their families as they transition into a new normal. Sometimes it is a move to a retirement center, or perhaps modifying their existing home so they can age in place, or maybe they need to go to hospice care. All of these are major lifestyle events.
All transitions are a result of change. But not everyone processes the changes in the same manner. Successful transitions are approached in three stages:
Stage 1: Acknowledge the New Reality
Stage 2: The Neutral Zone
Stage 3: The New Beginning
Here are some suggested steps to move through each stage:
Stage 1: Acknowledge the new reality. Before beginning something new what used to be must end.
Putting an end to something means this:
- Understand the situation: what changed
- Look ahead to the opportunities change brings
- Recognize that change brings out emotions
- Expect strong emotional reactions: grief, anger, resentment
- Be honest with yourself and others about what is happening
- Respect the past; life as it was before the changes demanded a transition.
Herman Cortes burned his ships at Vera Cruz to make it clear to his crew that going back to Spain was not an option.
Stage 2: The Neutral Zone. Think of this stage as limbo; we on our way but we are not there yet. This in-between place is where we feel the loss of the old but are still unaware of the benefits of the new. The phrase “one doesn’t discover new lands without losing sight of the shore” illustrates this truth.
Stage 3: The New Beginning. Over time we begin to accept that change creates new opportunities and we become both excited and fearful at the same time.
Manage the process using the 4 P’s of Transition
- Purpose: If people know where they are going they would be more willing to tolerate change.
- Picture the destination: Going beyond words to visuals helps at this stage.
- Participate: If you or the person you are working with can define their role in the transition then hope and expectations will build.
- Plan: Create a plan that defines the components of the transition. For example, if you or a loved one has fallen and can no longer live safely in the family home, what does this transition look like? Are finances and legal documents in order? Have you done the legwork to find a community or other living arrangement that fits your needs? What is the best possible timeline for a move?
Final Thoughts and Challenge: If you want to see an example of managing transition in a time of change, read about the greatest transition in all of history. In the Book of Exodus God told Moses to lead the Israelites from bondage in Egypt to the Promised Land. The journey had a purpose and a plan. If you are in a position to take someone through a necessary journey; a transition in a season of change, be a Moses!
Be blessed and stay safe,