April 16 , 2018 /


Transitions from one stage to another can be challenging for a variety of reasons.  Each of us differs in how we either plan for those or how we deal with them as they appear, whether on the horizon or suddenly in front of us.

Two colleagues mentioned recently that they were in a transition mode and my response to each was that we are often, almost always, in some form of transition and the big ones are much more challenging. One person is retiring from a distinguished career as an educator, a leader and change agent in public, private and international schools. The other, at age 40, is leaving a ten year commitment to an organization devoted to project and placed based education focused on student-centered learning. Both of these individuals are talented, resourceful, creative and solidly grounded. I have no doubt that both will make successful transitions; nevertheless they have serious questions about how to make these life changes in ways that will be satisfying and enjoyable.

Because I am farther along than either of these folks, they know what I have done in the past decade, some of which has been very rewarding. More time to travel is one enjoyable experience, especially in another culture. This is to say, in part, that it’s important for many of us to keep on learning. Being a lifelong learner requires an active mind, a body in motion and a live spirit. Keep learning alive, growing and changing.  The rewards continue to accumulate.

Many career decisions are also life decisions but not all life decisions have to do with careers, although leaving an active, productive career. and not for another job, is indeed a life decision as it poses the question valid for both categories, “What’s next?” What is next, if you want a systematic analysis, is an assessment of where you are at the moment with relationships, with emotions, with health and life style and with financial resources. The big question is “What do you want to do and why?”

To stay ahead of the curve, you must make a fairly comprehensive assessment before you can create some options to make wise choices. Remember what Yogi Berra said, “It’s very difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.” What you want most for your future deserves thoughtful consideration, perhaps checking out the possible choices with others whose opinions and experience you respect.

One of life’s larger, often unplanned transitions is from a healthy, active state of being to one that might not be as healthy and less active.  That can be occasioned from an illness, an accident or the perennial process of aging and what comes along with that inevitable change in life styles.  It’s even possible to plan for that when you’re fortunate enough to be in an advanced, later stage.  As a newly-minted octogenarian, I consider myself damn lucky to be here.  As Tom Peters reminded me, we are lucky to have made it through a lot of what he called “blind, dumb-ass decisions” especially as daredevil kids.

Take your time. Making a transition is not flipping a switch. It’s a process like so many things worthwhile and getting from here to there may require several steps, some good planning and design before throwing yourself into forward gear. In an earlier piece I wrote about two kinds of change, planned and unplanned, with the former being more desirable when possible.

Life is a series of transitions. Talk with others who have gone before and learned something they’re willing to share. Finally, when you are planning a change make sure you have access to resources that will make the transition easy, smooth and enjoyable, so that you will come as close as possible to fulfilling your vision, or in other terms, living your dream.

Some questions for your consideration.

  1. What do you see as the biggest challenge in making this transition?
  2. Thus far, what has been the most rewarding experiences you’ve had?
  3. What are you reading currently that you find enjoyable, inspiring or informative?
  4. Who, in your network, is likely to give you support and guidance?
  5. What do you think you might need that you might not have in order to move forward? What would you have to do to get that?
  6. As you look ahead, what appears to be the most exciting prospect?
  7. What do you want to be sure to avoid, if possible?
  8. In your planning, have you created a checklist and a timeline?
  9. When will you know you have made a successful transition?
  10. What question haven’t you asked yourself?

Good luck and “godspeed” which means I am wishing you a prosperous journey.

Comments (2)

  1. Love this. When in transition, it’s easy to feel lost as you spiral from the known to the very much unknown. When I look at your questions, they’re all great but number five speaks to me. (Maybe that’s because it’s the one I need to sit with the most.) I’ve transitioned in and out of the workforce over the years and the first time I stepped away people told me “You can never go back. You’ll never be able to move back into work at the same level.” Years later when I was ready I not only got a great job but at a senior level for equal pay to when I transitioned out. We think transitions are endings but they’re really what the word is all about… movement including the time in between landings.

    Really fantastic and grateful that your words were there for me today.


    1. Sitting with a question, letting it percolate and see what comes up (or down) can be a revealing exercise. Too often we are impatient for an answer. Nature is seldom in a hurry so what’s our rush when we could let something mature and evolve with a little more time. We’ve succumbed to the faster is better syndrome. Not always, so sometimes we may need to say, hang on there, not so fast. Let’s just take it a step at a time. Wow! The fog just lifted, the sun is brillliant and it’s a clear, sunshiny day. See you later.

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