I had just flown home from a getaway weekend with friends. It marked the first time my husband, Nick, was alone with our girls for three full days. I asked about his weekend as a single dad.
“Moments of transition,” he said, “are the hardest.”
Our daughters are 1 and 2. So truth be told, a lot is tough. But transitioning from, say, nap time to packing up and getting out of the house, he noted, can be frustratingly tricky.
As soon as the words left his mouth, I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote it down.
Moments of transition are the hardest.
For my friend Kelly, transitioning from pre-cancer to “You have cancer” was and will continue to be hard.
For my client, transitioning from job security to “Your role has been eliminated” is a source of undeniable stress.
For the new moms in my network, transitioning from life before children to life with children change can feel incredibly isolating.
Reflecting on the many transitions I’ve experienced in my life, I realize there are three steps I follow to cope with both good and bad transitions. I’m hopeful one or more of these ideas will help you navigate your own transitions.
1: Don’t be afraid to celebrate and mourn. I celebrate and mourn every one of my life transitions. (This is something my husband learned the hard way. He couldn’t understand why I sobbed when we moved out of our condo into our house. Didn’t I want this dream house? Yes, I did. But I sure did love that condo and all the memories I made there.) Celebrate what was so special about your experience before the transition occurred, and mourn the fact that life is different now. For me, when I bury my feelings, I stall. Allow yourself to deeply feel all of the emotions you’re wrestling with. It is incredibly helpful when it comes to taking that first step in a new direction.
2: Ask for help.These three simple words hold an incredible amount of power: I need help. Admitting you can’t do it all can lift the sense of paralysis we often feel when faced with a situation we haven’t encountered before. Some people may have been down a similar road and could provide answers, while others may simply agree to drive down the road sitting beside you, lifting the load. (As I write this, a memory floods my brain of a time I had paralysis: I was in the middle of a huge life transition, and every extra task seemed insurmountable. A giant backyard full of leaves was too much for me to manage. I mentioned this to a colleague, and would you believe he showed up unannounced with a leaf blower and dozens of bags—and cleaned up my yard in a matter of minutes? I think of that moment often, for many reasons, and wonder if I could have experienced a better transition if I would have spoken up and admitted I needed help instead of waiting for my breakdown to occur.)
3: Get your business in order. It’s important to feel a sense of security during in-between periods. The saying “knowledge is power” exists for a reason. When you are informed, you are able to weigh the options in front of you and make intelligent choices about what’s next. When I transitioned from working for an organization to starting my own business, I knew I had a solid business plan, savings in my bank account, and a supportive partner. That knowledge gave me the discipline to keep moving forward even when things didn’t go as planned. Ask yourself what information or knowledge you need to gather in order to make the transition you’re experiencing more comfortable.
Nick is right. Moments of transition are the hardest—and not just for toddlers. But we can manage them—and know that whatever awaits us out that door after nap is an opportunity for adventure.
Are you struggling to navigate one of life’s biggest transitions? I am an executive and life coach who helps clients nationwide with personal and professional transitions. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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