Transitions are hard. Maybe this will help?

Lots of folks are facing that big transition from one season of life to another. But in a sense, all of us live in a perpetual season of graduation or deterioration. We are either advancing or retreating. In life, in business, there really is no place that is devoid of change, either positively or negatively we are all going to experience change. 

Change is challenging and transition is treacherous because we all value our comfort zones. If you are like me you wake up in the morning and you have a routine. All of us, even the most spontaneous, have patterns, that we rely on because they produce results. We learn to repeat behaviors because they meet a need, satisfy a desire, or grant us a reward. And what gets rewarded gets repeated. 

So, if you are facing a transition in life, consider asking yourself this one big question? What is your reward? What is it that you are hoping that this change will produce? 

There is this concept known as intra-personal communication. It describes the self-talk that goes on within us on a daily basis. What words come to mind when you talk to yourself? Is your inner voice generally pessimistic or optimistic or realistic? A famous philosopher by the name of Derrida once observed that “all language is the imposition of a path.” In other words, the concepts, words and phrases we use to speak to each other within our relationships when taken collectively form the basis for our shared culture. But suppose what is happening in the larger culture with words and language is happening on a micro level within ourselves?  Resulting in the imposition of a life path which we are likely to follow.

It follows then that when we are challenged to deviate from this path that has been forged in our minds it will be difficult to pioneer a new path. Habits die hard. But after we identify what we want then the first step requires that we change the language we are using to speak to ourselves and to others.  Change the conversation = Change the destination. In order to change the conversation, you must commit to engaging in the art of imagination. But not just imagination, a prophetic imagination. What is a prophetic imagination? One that imagines a desired outcome and then puts into motion the actions necessary to arrive at that desired destination. This is very common in speeches that we hear great leaders deliver.

Changing the preoccupation equals a change in future reservations. What is it that you can’t seem to get off your mind or out of your head? How do you go about becoming less occupied with destructive thoughts and replace them with constructive thoughts? One way is to get around another fire. What do I mean by this? There is this communications theorist by the name of Ernest Bormann, he put forth this idea that as part of a collective, humans are shaped by stories, that he referred to as fantasy themes. So, for culture there may be many fantasy themes that provide a familiar warmth resulting in a sense of safety and security. But step that back for a moment and think about the fires or narratives that we retreat to in our moments of despondency and challenge to find comfort and security. For some of us, the fires that give us comfort are lies that we believe about ourselves. “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not connected enough,” “I’m not smart enough,” or “I don’t have enough money or influence”

These stories that we believe about ourselves let us off the hook when it comes to trying something new or embarking on a positive change in our lives by convincing us the changes won’t amount to anything lasting or significant. We must determine to change the story that preoccupies our minds and make a new reservation for the future.

If you think about the idea of a restaurant reservation, you are calling ahead to reserve a place that you presently do not occupy. So, in effect you are altering your immediate future by placing a “call ahead.” You see how what we practically understand about reserving restaurants or cars can have a powerful impact on our lives if we start applying this to the way in which we dwell on ideas and concepts in our minds and the self-talk that we employ to engage with our selves about our future destination. 

Consider our we investing in anticipation or deterioration? Are we looking forward or back? As human beings, we have a tendency to vacillate between the two extremes of regret or resolve. Don’t live in the land of regret but allow your resolve to move forward. 

Like me, you too have probably faced all kinds of adversities when it comes to life from relationships to finances. But as you get ready to make positive changes, think about what you want and pursue those things. Get around the right fires. Be warmed and comforted by thoughts of purpose, value, achievement. It’s not easy because everything in our world runs counter to these concepts. Remember Change is going to happen, you can either be leading it or becoming a victim of it. And no matter how well you prepare, we will all experience scary transitions and unexpected change. In those moments, your intra-personal communication is going to be critical to your surviving and thriving. Here are three things you can apply in the difficult seasons of change and transition.

  1. Read: the changes in who you are as a person will be greatly influence by the people you choose to surround yourself with and the books you read. Read books out of your comfort zone. Read books that are more than just an echo or confirmation of what you already believe to be true. 
  2. Relationships: develop relationships with people. This can be really difficult. It takes work and effort.  But it is so worth it! Say hello to someone new and different today. Invite someone over for dinner, connect with someone who will challenge you to move beyond your comfort and complacency.
  3. Replicate: Find someone and share with them what you are learning, replicate yourself in others. Invest time in teaching and influencing. Because believe it or not, everyone is teaching something to the world. There are people in your life that are going to view you either as a negative or positive influence. And when I say negative or positive it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will agree with you nor should they, it does mean that you are challenging others to think differently and see the world differently. Continue these efforts.

By engaging in these three things you are far better equipped when facing those moments of change and transition, and will find peace when they approach in the lives of others and in future seasons of your life to come.

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