Transition Management for DaVincis

by Liisa Kyle, Ph.D. on 06/19/2013

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Here’s the funny thing about change:  it doesn’t matter if it’s a pleasant or welcome transition — say a promotion or new relationship or a dream come true — or if the change is something  scarier (e.g. job loss) or sadder (e.g. loss of a loved one) — we still tend to process them the same way.  We tend to resist change — any change.  Even good changes.

Let’s say you’re starting a desirable new job — or  commencing a great relationship —  or expanding or family — or moving into a better location.  You “should” be happy, right?  Yes — and yet it’s perfectly natural to also experience a melange of random other emotions — both positive and negative.  We can find ourselves being afraid.  Or angry.  Or sad.  Or stressed beyond belief. Our inner selves can respond to ‘change’ as if it’s ‘loss’ — because it often is.  A new job may mean leaving people and tasks you care about.  A new relationship can seem like a loss of your previous identity. Moving to a new location can be irksome as you navigate unfamiliar surroundings to sort out where everything is.

Whenever people experience a major transition — be it a job change, a relationship change, a change in homes or something else — it can be challenging.  For DaVincis, it can be doubly so because the more we going on, the more talents or projects will be affected by any given change.

Many years ago, my newly-married buddy called me in tears.  She loved her new husband — he was a great and special guy — but marriage was not what she had been expecting.  We walked around town as she talked about her fears and annoyances.  She was going through a big change.  From single — something she’d been her whole life — to being married — a role she’d only inhabited for a week.  She went from living with her parents and siblings in her childhood home to living with her spouse in a new apartment.  No matter how solid the relationship was  between these newlyweds, it was natural for both of them to have concerns and fears burble up.  Of course they’d have to work out some kinks and work through resistance, however it manifested.

And resistance is a tricky thing. It can be disguised as any or all of the following:

– laziness (I just don’t feel like doing this right now)

– confusion (I just don’t get this; This is too complicated)

– excessive thirst for information (I can’t start this until I do another few months of research)

– fatigue (I don’t have the energy to tackle this; I need a nap)

– deferral (I’ll get around to this later/ tomorrow/ after I do my REAL work/ someday)

– excessive busy-ness (I don’t have time to do this; I’ve got too much going on)

– self-deprecation (I’m not good enough; I don’t deserve to succeed in this; I’m too young/old/stupid/serious/goofy to do this)

– avoidance (What’s on TV? ; Hey look at this cat on YouTube)

– despair (What’s the point? I’ll never make it; I’ve missed my chance)

perfectionism (It’s not good enough; Mine is not as good as so-and-so’s)

– self-medication (Pass the tequila; Mmm chocolate).

So what’s a DaVinci to do when embarking on a major transition?

1. Recognize that you are embarking on a major transition. 

Remind yourself of the obvious and cut yourself some slack.

2.  Use the change as an opportunity to aim for more things you love and less of what you don’t

Clear some uninterrupted time to sit down and think about what you really want — and really don’t want — in this next chapter.  A divorce can be stressful and gut-wrenching…and also a trigger to launch as-of-yet unlaunched dreams.  A promotion can be thrilling…and consuming.  Some conscious forethought can ensure some balance between your new work role and your health, your relationships and your extracurricular interests.

3. Expect random emotions to occur at random times. 

Avoid judging yourself.  Accept and understand that whatever feelings emerge — positive and negative — they are a natural reaction to change.  Notice them and move on.

4.  Be on the lookout for your favorite forms of resistance.

Review the list above.  How do you tend to resist? As you go through this transition, recognize these behaviors for what they are:  a signal that you are going through a big change.

5. Allow yourself more time than you think you need.

Getting comfortable in a new situation takes a while. Err on the side of expecting it to take longer.  I’m in the process of moving from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest. We’ll probably finish unpacking boxes within the next month…and yet it’ll probably be closer to a year before our family is settled into our new location.  Maybe more.  Whenever I find myself getting overwhelmed with all the ‘to do’s’ involved in the move, it’s helpful to remember the bigger time frame.

6.  Above all else, be very kind to yourself.

Be your own best friend.  Anytime you’re going through a major change is a wonderful reason to treat yourself to your favorite simple pleasures.


Activity:  List a few of the major transitions you’ve experienced. For each, jot down things that worked well — things that helped you get through the change smoothly.  Also write down some thing that didn’t work well.


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