Life Transitions:10 Ways to Boldly Go Through Them

Here in Atlanta the weather has been crazy.

One day it is 40 degrees, then the next it’s 70. The trees and flowers are starting to bloom, yet we are hardly out of February.The last few days it’s been looking like spring but feeling like mid-winter.

This struggle of the seasons is so analogous to our personal life transitions. Winter is desperately trying to hold on, while spring is emerging in spite of winter’s weakening clutches.

And just as predictably as there are changing seasons, life transitions for each of us are inevitable. Maybe you are in one right now. If not, hold on to your hat. One is right around the corner.

I have found there are two types of transition that we encounter several times during our lifetimes: the slow growers and the surprise attackers.

The Slow Growers

The slower growers are the transitions that creep up on you. You experience restlessness, inner tuggings, physical symptoms, yearning desires, and emotional changes, all before you reach a destination or outcome. Sometimes you are aware that transition is happening, and other times you don’t know what the hell is going on — at least not immediately.

confidence course

These are some examples of slow growing transitions:

  • puberty
  • peri-menopause
  • reaching adulthood
  • midlife
  • spiritual growth
  • emotional growth
  • relationship changes
  • empty-nesting
  • career change
  • change in sexuality
  • lifestyle choices
  • friendship changes
  • life balance
  • retirement
  • aging, physical change

The Surprise Attackers

The surprise attack transitions are those that come at you out of left field. You never see them coming. Sometimes it’s because you have your head in the sand, and other times they are totally random for you and everyone else.  All of the transition work must be done after the shock of the catalyst has worn off.

Here are some examples of surprise attackers:

  • job loss
  • end of a relationship/divorce
  • a death of a loved one
  • serious illness
  • an unexpected move
  • an affair
  • a hysterectomy (early menopause)
  • a shocking event (burglary, fire, destructive weather, etc.)
  • a betrayal by a family member, friend, or business associate
  • a financial upheaval

Whether life transition evolves slowly or is forced by an unexpected event, this period of time doesn’t have to be purgatory. You don’t have to just “mark time,” waiting to get through the freaky transition so you can reach the glorious destination.

Yes, there is often grief and pain associated with these transitions, especially the surprise attackers. But life transitions can be periods of enormous personal and psychological growth.  In fact, some of these transition periods can be exciting, creative, and even liberating times of our lives.  They are absolutely necessary and natural stages of our personal evolution.

Though we are often clouded in confusion and fear during these times,  just the awareness that you are in transition can provide some direction and clarity.

Look at your life right now?

Are you in a settled place or a transformational time?

If you are settled, then you have time to prepare for the inevitable transitions ahead. You know one is coming.

If you are in the middle of one, then take a deep breath and know that by supporting yourself during this time, you are planting the seeds for a brilliant new phase of your life. Try to enjoy the ride as much as possible!

So how can you support yourself during transition so that you can bloom boldly for the changes or new phase of life ahead?

Here are some key ideas to help move past the fear and embrace the life transitions you may be facing:

1. Rely on routines

When mental, physical,  and emotional chaos is swirling around you, the most stabilizing force in your life right now are your routines. Your basic routines of getting up, getting dressed, making your tea, going to work, etc., can provide you that sense of comfort that everything in your world isn’t topsy turvy. There may be some routines that change along with your transition. But hold on to enough of them that you don’t lose your footing entirely.

2. Let go of why

I’m one who needs to know why something is happening because I don’t tolerate ambiguity very well. But I’ve learned the hard way that the answer to “why?” isn’t always immediately obvious. It can take months or even years to get the full perspective on why certain events happen in your life. And sometimes you never get the answer. Tolerating that not knowing will relieve you of a whole lot of angst. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter why. It’s happening, so now what? Don’t waste too much time pontificating.

3. Don’t force it

You may think you know where you are going with this transition, but then again, maybe you don’t. Don’t force yourself through the transition so you can hurry up and get to the other side. The unsettled, ambiguous feelings that come with transition are uncomfortable, but you can’t jump into the first life boat you happen to see. Allow yourself to complete the transition process fully. But even if you don’t, your psyche will carry you back eventually to finish the business properly! You might as well do it right the first time.

4. Follow your intuition

Some transitions just can’t be analyzed and thought out. The changes and shifts you are going through may be so subtle that you have to sit quietly and listen to what you instinct is telling you. Once you’ve analyzed all you can, and there’s nothing further to think through, then turn the business over to your heart. It generally knows what you want and where you are going before your brain does.

5. Follow your actions

In some transitions, you are so muddled that even your intuition isn’t clear. You don’t hear an inner voice, you don’t know what you want, you have no idea what direction is best. In these cases, just take an action. Do something. Actually this is another way of your intuition speaking to you. If you look back in time over your actions, you will probably see a pattern telling you exactly what you want.

6. Allow yourself to grieve

Grieving your old life, even in minor transitions, is to be expected. This doesn’t mean you don’t want to move forward or that you aren’t ready to. It just means that you are letting go and releasing all that was and all that might have been. It is sadness for leaving something behind that you love or that you wish you had loved. It is sadness for having to get out of your comfort zone and do something new and challenging. Let the tears flow. This is an important healing part of transitions.

7. Don’t resist

Sometimes when we are going through transition, it is so uncomfortable or disconcerting that we fight it tooth and nail. We try to force ourselves to remain firmly planted in the familiar. But our psyches won’t have it. Eventually you must respond to the call of a transition, or suffer the consequences in the form of depression, anxiety, anger, or physical ailments. Accept, and if possible embrace, the changes you are encountering. Every change brings something new and beautiful into your life.

8. Experiment

Transitions are the perfect time for experimenting. This is where the fun of life transition comes in. If you’ve spent your life doing it one way, now you can try the wide variety of other ways to do it. As you shift your thinking and feeling, you will see how much the world has to offer, and you’ve only been living a sliver of it. Don’t accept the first new whatever to come your way — take a look at everything out there. If you’ve got to change, you might as well find the best fit!

9. Journal

Write it all down, and then write some more. Journaling is so healing and helpful during life transitions. When your emotions and moods are shifting faster than you can keep up with, it’s good to be able to go back and read everything you’ve gone through and what you’ve been thinking. It is good for your soul to release your churned up feelings on paper. It is a great release and a directional tool for transition.

10. Get support

Just about every life transition can use some hand-holding along the way. Having a supportive friend, counselor, or coach to help you navigate the bumps and take the best actions is so beneficial. We all think we can do it alone, and we probably can. But we will arrive in much better shape if we’ve had someone supporting us through the transition period.

What is your experience with life transitions? What has help you? Please share your comments below.

Related book: Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life

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31 thoughts on “Life Transitions:10 Ways to Boldly Go Through Them”

  1. This is just what I needed to read. I’m in the midst of a transition right now…more of a limbo period, really. The transition will begin soon, if I decide to let it.

    It’s a tough one…I can either stay comfortable, “firmly planted in the familiar,” as you said…Or take action, move forward and let things happen. #5 and #7 were really helpful for me – right now, my intuition is at a loss. I may just be better off taking that leap! Thanks for such a relevant post. Peace! 🙂

    • Hi Kaylee,
      I’m glad this came to you at the right time. When I’ve been in a position of not knowing what to do, and I can’t read my intuition, I try this silly but very useful trick. Get a coin and assign one decision to heads and the other decision to tails. Flip the coin, and pay attention to what you hope it lands on. That may be your deeper desire. Some choices aren’t black and white. Sometimes both options have good and bad elements. So you just have to pick one.

    • Thanks for the trick! I just got the same side three times in a row and was totally bummed…Guess I know what my answer is. 😉 I love that. Thanks for being so helpful, Barrie. Have a beautiful day!

  2. Thank you for this article. I find that I am falling in love with slow. I almost have to manufacture it because that if I am not going fast, I will probably engender curious to annoying looks from others.
    Slow is when I do my best work, when I can bring every ounce of my being to the work I am doing. Slow gives the opportunity for attention, interest, care, and luxurious fussing to bring something special to life.

    I think going slowly is a great way to handle transitions. It enables us to dignify our grief, pay attention to what needs to happen, honor our place in life and our strength for making the transition and honoring the people who may be entering or leaving our lives. I think it is a very dignifies way to live.

    • Beautifully, beautifully stated Maria. Taking our time through transitions gives us the opportunity to fully explore and assimilate every feeling and decision. It allows growth to blossom naturally, without forcing it.

  3. A perfectly timed post Barrie 🙂 I’m due to be a new grandma any day now, so my ‘baby’ is no longer a baby–she’s having one. LOL Quite a transition for me! Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us. Be Blessed!

    • Hi Lilly,
      Congratulations to you!! How exciting. This is a nice transition, although I’m sure being titled “Grandma” brings its own set of feelings. It truly does mark the time when your child is no longer a child, but is now someone elses parent.

  4. Hi Barrie. No time to post, but I just HAD to anyway! I’m transitioning as we speak! We moved house 10 days ago -not an unexpected move, but when both my boys and their nanny got sick (one after another) it threw a spanner in the works, to say the least. I’m struggling to keep afloat right now, but I’m loving the glimpses of this new life that our new home will give us and feeling very, very blessed. So what if I can’t find anything I need? It’s only “stuff” after all! Thanks for your words of wisdom. Louisa x

    • That’s the way Louisa! Seize the fun in this new opportunity and change. There may be frustrations, but they are counter-balanced by lots of excitement. Enjoy your new home. I hope you create many wonderful memories there. 🙂

  5. “Some transitions just can’t be analyzed and thought out.”

    Wow, that is so often my issue. I find it terribly difficult not to analyze everything and at this moment in my life I am really attempting to let go of that need and accept how things are and move from there. I will learn my lessons if I keep moving, but not if I halt everything to pick them apart. This will also allow me to enjoy things a bit more.

    • Amen Jackie! Oh how I was an analyzer! But it is so liberating to let that go. Now I just embrace reality as exactly what is supposed to be happening right now, because it is happening!

  6. Barrie, numbers 9 and 10 on your list have been incredibly energizing, focusing, comforting, inspiring, encouraging to me, more and more, ever since late last September! Daily notes, daily posting, daily writing, daily blogging, commenting, utilizing the feedback of others online has worked miracles in my life! All the other steps are very important, as well. I am finding that I automatically include them in my days BECAUSE I am committed to writing, posting, and blogging!

    • Hi Rose,
      Yes, just putting our thoughts and feelings on paper is amazingly therapeutic. It makes them tangible, not just a jumble of anxiety producing chaos. I am so glad you are committed to your writing. That is wonderful!

  7. This was timely for me too Barrie. We are transitioning with an elderly parent who happens to share part of our home. It may mean selling and moving, or not. It’s the grey areas that always make me crazy. It’s a work in progress.

    • Hi Barbara,
      I hate those darned grey areas too. They are so irritatingly ambiguous! But they eventually reveal themselves. It teaches patience, right? 🙂

  8. Nice article, Barrie. I like how you have several points around letting go and not resisting. Those are the things that really trip you up during a transition but, of course, so hard to remember to do!

    • Yes it is hard to do Bobbi. It’s far easier to write about it! 🙂 But at least having the awareness that resistance is futile can help you take the actions to let go of it.

  9. Barrie…this is a great article because it’s so applicable for so many people. We all face change and transition, but it can be so difficult sometimes to know *how* to go through this process.

    I love each of your tips. It’s fascinating (as a side note) how many of them have to do with allowing or non-resistance of some sort. I think that’s a major place I get into trouble when change happens in my life–I’m trying to stop it or keep it from happening or keep it from impacting the status quo. And that’s just not possible.

    I especially love the last tip and I think it’s one that we often over look. Getting help is difficult for most of us because we don’t want to acknowledge that we might not have all our sh*t together. We’re concerned about what people will think of or say about us. But it can be so rewarding to work with someone who has different tools that we have been exposed to or has been through the process that we’re going through.

    Thorough and rewarding post. Thank you for your hard work on this one. Very useful.

    • Hi Steve,
      One of the most eye-opening books for me is by Bryon Katie called: Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life. I put a link to it at the end of the post. It is all about loving reality — because you can’t change it (at least not in the moment). Also, I firmly believe that getting support is strong and bold rather than weak. Bold people know they can do more with someone holding them accountable or helping them clear out the BS!

  10. Barrie – letting go of why is a great tip but difficult at the same time. In painful life moments (or any moment really) we are trying to give meaning to the things that happen in our lives. When the unfortunate happens, we try to seek even more answers. I’ve at least tried to stop asking why of the external world after a recent life transition but still ask it of myself internally.

    Another thing that I’ve come to accept is impermanence. Nothing in this world is permanent – change always happens. And trying to accept that (or not resist) as you say is key to embracing life changes.

    Thanks for sharing this article.

  11. Hi Barrie
    Great analysis and deep reading to human nature!!!!!!!!
    Thanks so much as we need to read our spirits from outside

  12. Hi Barrie,
    Thanks for the article it could not have come at a better time. I’m in a transition period and like you mentioned I hurried through previous transitions so I am having to re-trace my steps to clean up. I wish I had understood this much earlier as it has caused a lot of anxiety and then I hit a brick wall. Once we start cleaning up, life becomes lighter and clearer.
    Thanks again for a great article.

  13. Transitions can be difficult or easy for me. It is easier if I trust in my instincts and heart. I too sometimes over-analyze when it is sometimes better to release it and let you mind and spirit mull over it. As I look back at my life, I see that I was always guided to the right people and places that were best for me.

  14. This is a really useful article for so many reasons. I am at a time of transition also and may have to initiate a surprise attack myself which I am resisting.

    Change can feel really difficult at the time but once you have moved onwards you feel so much better. I wish I was at that point but sadly I will have to struggle a little more.

  15. really helpful…reading this made me realize I’m not a weak, I’m 28 years old, and leaving away of home….this art makes me think there is hope for me….thanks for sharing this

  16. This was really helpful to read. I would like to have posted for others to read.

    I have been going through this transition for 15 months now and its not over yet, very painful, yet growthful.

    The biggest challenge of my life is that spiritually I have lost all meaning and purpose. Without this LIFE can seem so meaningless and sometimes pointless and over.

    It really helps to view life transition as a process and make sure to reach out for help and support. I do believe that this too shall eventually pass.

    Thanks for the great information.

  17. This article is well written!
    I am transitioning into adulthood now and many aspects of my life are changing (many).. Internally I feel the intuitive nudges and find myself taking actions and making life changes not knowing “why” these things are happening. This article has helped me except the fact I may not know why these things are coming to be but that’s okay. Trust.

  18. i am going through a transition that i actually unconciously orchestrated myself( what a suprise, dont we all create our own destiny? 😉
    anyways, the points you are making is what i am feeling inside. i know i am still struggeling and actually still resisting the “change”, however i am aware what is happening. so instead of just making hasty decisions, i decided to just go with the flow including accepting myself for being resisitant to change.. i dont know where its taking me and it is OK. number 6 i found out is vital for transitions, Grieving is part of life and i tried to skip it. HA! nice try !how can you try to cheat life? it doesnt work that way. so thanks again for the very helpful tips . i know there was a reason why i clicked on the link 🙂


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