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Don't Wait Until You Leave

Plan Your Transition Now

This picture was taken on our girls’ last day at Day Care before our family moved away for my husband’s studies.

As a driven, high-flying Executive, I had no frame of reference for the season of life I was about to transition into.

A change of life event upsets even the most stoic of us. So it comes as no surprise to learn that many fall into depression, debt, and even death soon after a major work-life transition, such as retirement, leaving employment to start entrepreneurship, and becoming a full-time stay-at-home parent (usually the mother).

Transitions disrupt our lives, they make us feel out of control, like we have lost significantly, and may even have to start over. What’s worse is that the transition period between ending one thing and starting another, is as long as the effectiveness of one’s coping (transitioning) mechanism.

Real or perceived disruption, transitions can take a toll on the individuals around whom they center, their families, colleagues, and even entire organizations.

Dr. William Bridges (PhD), author of the book, "Transitions" says people go through three phases of transitions:

There are several strategies to help mitigate the disruptions, risks, and effects, perceived, or otherwise, of work-life transitions.

Planning ahead (instead of waiting to wake up on Day One With No Job), is one strategy to not only reduce the stress related to transitions, but will also ensure you are sufficiently equipped to successfully embark on your next opportunity.

What does this look like?

Below are 7 steps to planning for a successful transition:

1. Prepare Psychologically

This is happening. Whether of your own volition or not, planned or unexpected, you are about to go through. a work-life transition.

Don't deny the facts of the process you are going through.

Even if you have a lot to do in this period, carve out time to think, feel, and process.

If you don't usually journal, you may want to consider it to help you through this period.

Take time away from the hustle and bustle of life and be alone with your thoughts to reflect and note down your responses to this question:

1. What is happening?

Write down the facts of the event, e.g. I am retiring, I am resigning from my job to start a business, I am leaving my job to be a full-time stay-at-home parent, I am leaving the country to go work overseas.

If you are going through a work-life transition because of a significant other's decision, you would say, "I am ...... because [person] is ............".

Stay neutral at this stage so that you don't weigh yourself down with additional thoughts and emotions over and above those you are already experiencing.

Once done, ask yourself and respond to:

2. What do I think will change?

Take note of every change you think this work-life transition will present to you and to those that will be directly impacted by it.

You will find yourself nothing both objective (facts) and subjective (feelings, assumptions) details.

When done, respond to this question:

3. What do I know for sure?

Go back to your responses to Question 2 and filter through facts and assumptions. Do this by taking a new page and dividing it in the middle into two equal columns.

At the top of the left side write the word, "Facts", on the top right write, "Assumptions".

Under each column, copy and paste each of your responses to Question 2 according to where you think the statements belong.

The idea is that you will see the Facts as objective pieces of information you may be able to tangibly do something about, and the Assumptions as your subjective feelings, or fears you can choose to resolve by reframing from a negative to a positive.

What is important to note throughout your entire process of transition is that no matter what happens, you still do have the power to choose your thoughts, feelings, attitude, and actions as you go through it.

“[...] change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation and self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life. Without a transition, a change is just a rearrangement of the furniture. ”

-William Bridges.

2. Develop Checklists

Once you are done with the exercise on the previous step, give yourself time to go through the emotions that come with your sense of loss, disorientation, and ambiguity about what is to come.

But please don't camp in your feelings. This is where many of us sink into depression and destructive habits. Get professional help if you need to (I did and continue to). When you're ready (some people have more time than others), it's time to get practical.

Consider what you need to prepare to effectively, and comfortably journey through your transition.

It is worth noting that you will need to prepare for two to three transition stages; two if the work-life event happens suddenly and you get caught off-guard and propelled into a transition - here you are concerned with managing the transition as best as you can to reduce its negative impact on you so that you can settle into your new norm; three, where you can first, prepare for a known or foreseeable transition of transition, second go through the transition, and third, move to settle down into your new norm.

Preparing a Transition Checklist is a practical thing to do to help you prepare to successfully navigate your transition.

Here's how to go about it:

Step 1: Prepare a list of everything that needs to be done (by yourself and others).

Step 2: Arrange your Transition Checklist in sequence so that you can prioritise what needs to be done first, what follows after, and after that, until you are on the other side of the transition.

Remember to work through every area of your life.

Ask yourself:

1. What do I need to do and or make sure gets done, by whom?

2. When does it need to get done by?

3. What support do I need to get that done fully and on time?


Will you need support from your family while you are putting in extra time at work to make sure you hand over successfully?

Will you have to train successors to take over your role without any glitches?

Do you have to cancel meetings or ask a proxy to attend as a representative?

Will you need to save more to factor in moving costs, etcetera?

Think of everything you need to do, then order it in the sequence it needs to get done so that you are not caught off guard by unplanned activities.

3. Set Non-Negotiable Deadlines

Don’t underestimate how time-consuming transitions are for everyone at work and at home.

Create deadlines for your Transition Checklist with realistic timeframes for everyone’s turnaround to make sure deliverables are met by set deadlines.

4. Create a 360 Vision

What is that Modesta?

A 360 Vision is a vision for every area of your life.

You will need two sets of visions:

  • Create a 360 Vision for Your Transition

Take quiet time alone or with significant others, you are about to go through transitions with (this could be a great opportunity to talk about thoughts, feelings, and practical steps you can each take to effectively take ownership of, and support each other through, the transition).

Ask and brainstorm ideas about:

- What life will be like during the transition

- How long will you be in a state of transition

- What resources will you need

- What challenges you foresee coming up

- How you plan to effectively address them

- What Non-Negotiable Values and Boundaries you will live by, no matter what

This includes personal, family, professional, business, financial, educational, housing, transportation, insurance, debt, and any other area that you want to plan in advance for, to help you prepare resources, and manage expectations.

These questions help you to create the experiences you want yourself, your family, your colleagues to have, as you are all adjusting to the “in-between” state you are in before you settle down.

  • Create a 360 Vision for Your Life after the Transition

What are you transitioning into? A new job? A new industry? A new country? Starting a business? Retirement? Full time stay at home parenting?

How will this change things for you and your family? What resources and support will you need to successfully navigate your new norm? What do you need to do now to put that in place?

Strategizing well in advance will help you gather the resources you need to prepare for a successful transition and to thrive in your new norm.

5. Budget

Preparing your personal, family, and or business finances is such a critical area that it warrants having a section of its own.

Finances are often a source of stress for many when they are doing life or business as usual. Compound this with the added cost of transitioning from employment to unemployment, I mean entrepreneurship :-) or employment to full-time stay at home parenting, or moving cities, countries, etcetera, and it soon becomes a dangerous terrain.

To reduce the strain of making money stretch, budget for both the transition period, giving yourself at least six months to a year in this state before things settle down.

There may be many hidden expenses that you would be better equipped to meet when you budget for transition savings.

You can also pause payments, reduce contributions, and make other financial adjustments to help you better weather your time of transition.

6. Track Progress

It's one thing to plan your activities and budget, it's quite another to execute.

Make sure you and others stay on track by building in tracking to make sure what you think is happening is actually what is happening.

7. Get into a Routine

There is nothing like getting out of your head and into a regular routine to help you develop new disciplines and habits that tell your mind,

"This is me. This is my identity. This is my routine. This is my life."

Help yourself and your family thrive on the other side of your transition by agreeing on regular activities you can engage in to help you let go of the old, and embrace your new norm.

Pretty soon you will not only accept your new work-life reality, you will come to own it as your new norm, as your life.

At least for now, until you go through another transition, stronger, wiser, and better equipped than if you had not had to navigate this one.

I wish you all the very best.

You've got this! And God's got you!

This is us at my husband's graduation. I wish I could tell you that I had followed all the advice I have shared with you today, but the truth is, I was still in limbo. I simply didn't want to let go of what was, and so I lived bitter and resentful, taking every opportunity to blame him for ruining my life. It took 3 years after we left for me to fully take ownership of my decisions; to accept that this was our life for now, and that it held great opportunities for me too, if only I allowed myself to explore what that could look like. I want to tell you that I am more self-aware, more fulfilled, more powerful, more at peace than I have ever been before. My relationship and faith in God have blossomed, giving me a new boldness and drive to live out my purpose with excellence, everywhere I go. My values and boundaries are clear and non-negotiable; giving us all a great balance between I, we, us, them. We are still settling down, still going through changes, still in transition. Only now we don't feel dragged and pushed around by life, but are at the front end of our transition, managing every area of our lives to fulfill the vision we know God has given us to fulfill in our time here. We are certain that we will go through many more transitions in life, both individually, and as a family, and we are at peace. When the time comes, we will manage what is before us to manage. Until then, we will live our lives here fully, allowing ourselves to see, do, achieve, and enjoy every second of every minute of every day.

Want to work with me through your current work-life transition? I welcome you to Book a Consultation Call. through the link below. I look forward to working with you.

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