Thought-starter: What if transitions were our best friends?
Our monthly thought-starters come to you from our team of Guides, who are trained to help you make the most of your MeaningSphere experience. They're on hand to help members of our community explore the big question: "What is the meaning of my work to me?" Find out more about our Guide services here.
10,000. That’s the number of days we work in our lifetime, on average. That’s about a third of our lives spent on making a living.
It is therefore no wonder that we all face significant changes throughout our careers, and some are much harder to deal with than others. With that in mind, I would like to extend this invitation: an invitation to have fun imagining the unthinkable. Fantasizing about the impossible. An invitation to picture “transitions” as outgoing, touching, extroverted, and lively friends. Sometimes intimidating, often fun. At times embarrassingly outspoken, but mostly funny. Regularly surprising, never boring, too often daring but thankfully safe; they are unpredictable, scary, frustrating, and provocative, but they are always, always there with us.
Our theme this month is Work Transitions and I am so pleased to share these lines with you because transitions have been my friends for over a quarter of a century.
Let’s start with this: we almost always think about transitions as periods of time between two states. A journey from A to B. An undefined, uncertain environment in which we must “make do,” “hang in there,” and “grin and bear it” from the starting point until (we hope) the end.
I believe that it is our relationship with “time” that causes most of our discomfort when going through a period of transition. Whenever we feel that our day-to-day “reality” is being disrupted, we define a transition starting point. Our focus shifts to what the next destination is and reaching it quickly so we can settle again into a new fixed reality. Sometimes this can mean that we don’t even think that much about what that destination is or whether we even want to go there. Because when we define a start, we need an end. The idea of transitioning is suffocating.
We need a new fixed reality. We can refer to this as “relief.” Some form of static happiness in which no movement, no hiccup is allowed, for fear of Mr. C., otherwise known as change.
What if we try to consider reality as a moving concept? Just as our body ages and our mind matures every day, our reality is forever evolving, just like Mrs. H., otherwise known as humanity.
Let’s try. Sometimes we wish time away, sometimes we pray for it to pause. Sometimes transitions can be our best friends: settling into a promotion, being on gardening leave before the next big job, awaiting the validated pay-raise.
Sometimes we wish we had never met them. We encounter these transitions in many different ways. For some they are shy and rather subtle at first. A glimpse of bad nights, a pinch of sadness, a lack of energy, a grumpy mindset. Procrastination, lack of desire and disinterest are close allies to the shy transitions gang.
For others, transitions come forcefully. Family relocations due to our or our partner’s jobs; an internal reorg or an external buyout. Some spring upon us tragically: an illness, a job loss, a trauma, a heartbreak.
We have all come face to face with a transition at some point and we will meet more of them in a lifetime. As a MeaningSphere Guide I cannot stop the time from passing but what I can do is gently press pause to usher Explorers to (re)discover what is meaningful to them and consider their experience from a different perspective.
Together we learn how to embrace work transition challenges; how to repeatedly learn and unlearn, settle and unsettle with serenity. We accept the invitations to meet a variety of transition friends and decide in which mindset to open our door before they can come in through our window. We acknowledge that it is more than okay to be tired and want to rest; we appreciate that our need for love, harmony, and security might be crushed at times, but know that we have it within ourselves to lift our heads, breathe, and have the choice and the means to make it better again.
Perhaps, work transitions aren’t simply something with a start and an end.
Transitions are part of being beautifully and powerfully alive.
What would you like to do with your 10,000 days of work transitions?
Please reach out, I would love to have the chance to hear your story.
Audrey Daumain is a senior business transformation professional and performance coach with over 25 years experience in the finance industry in London and Geneva. She has developed a highly successful executive performance coaching program predominantly based on New Code Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Non-Violent Communication. Her mission is to align people and systems, providing serenity and resilience to the teams she works with to support them in delivering better, faster, and more sustainably, including in times of disruption and change.
Image credit: Logan Weaver on Unsplash.