Almost at any time, changing the direction of your life—especially if it’s likely to have enormous impact—can go one of two ways. First, it can completely frustrate your progress. Or second, you can work to find ways to emerge on the other end a transformed person. On both occasions, of course, the process is never easy to go through.
In the last two weeks, via a three-part series, we uncovered and shared ways to stay accountable to your goals and demonstrate accountability to yourself and the people around you. This final piece ties up the conversation by discussing how to handle the transformations in your life while taking accountability as a way to navigate through those uncertain times and stages of transition.
Handling uncertainty: how do I successfully turn around my life’s direction while facing overwhelming insecurity?
To survive in times of transformation requires that we work towards finding a new focus. Change, no matter how big or small, can be equally unnerving. Another difficulty is facing the cold fact that endings (and the shifts that follow them) require you to let go of what has become familiar and comfortable.
Feeling set back: changing your path or strategy doesn’t mean you are a failure.
In this case, a balanced perspective is important, as it is possible to view your whole world from the keyhole of your recent ‘failure’. And this type of thinking can devalue prior achievements and the progress you’ve made. Managing change is a mental game, and it also provides an opportunity to look inward and create room for reinvention.
It’s also important to acknowledge your emotions at any point of the transition you’re experiencing. To let go of the past, and the underlying expectations you had of yourself, and the subsequent disappointment in having to take a detour, for example. Without familiarity, it’s fairly easy to get our confidence knocked down as we test our feet within a new reality.
Taking accountability: this is how you bounce back.
To begin rebuilding and gaining a stronger personal understanding, assuming responsibility is an important ingredient in the process. This means having honest conversations with yourself about the ways you might have contributed to your current reality. This approach provides a big shift in perspective, personal development lessons, and encourages empowering discoveries.
The stages of transition: how change and transition differ.
“Change is the external event or situation that takes place; change can happen very quickly,” once wrote William Bridges, a change management consultant. His research into dealing with change clarified the difference between the two concepts.
“Transition is the inner psychological process that people go through as they internalize and come to terms with the new situation that the change brings about. The starting point for dealing with transition is not the outcome but the endings that people have in leaving the old situation behind.”
To expand on the stages that shed insight into understanding transitions, the Bridges Transition Model outlines the process in three stages:
A period of change starts with another phase coming to an end or taking a different direction. This step mainly involves recognising what will change and how to manage that change. This might include your relationships, the routines and habits you have developed over time that might need reworking for you to grow further.
The second step comes after letting go of what has been until now. This is the stage where important mental shifts happen. This is the stage between a former reality and the preparation to enter a new one.
It’s the time when you’re likely to create new approaches and fully come to terms with the changes moving forward. The neutral zone is the launchpad for new beginnings.
Initiating yourself into a new reality involves adopting a fresh perspective—perhaps a change in deeply held values. And a well-managed transition will allow you to begin the next chapter of your life with a deeper understanding of your goals.
“Don’t panic when the new business model isn’t as ‘clean’ as the old one,” Seth Godin once cautioned the music business against wishing that the new digital reality was as good as the old one, right from the start. The same is true for dealing with change on a personal level.