How To Navigate Transitions In Work & Life
Last weekend, I toured an exhibit on French Women’s Fashion and World War I. There was a strong aesthetic distinction between pre-war and post-war. In this case, pre-war was fancy and extravagant (a time when French women would change outfits 6x a day). And post-war was subdued, yet also a return to elegance.
So many French women lost their husbands, that “mourning” fashion became a thing which eventually led to what we now know of today as the “little black dress” made fashionable by Coco Chanel.
But what about the in between? Clothes became sober and functional. So much so that the curator had a difficult time finding examples of such clothing. Among fashion houses who have archives, it was a time where their factories either shut down or made bandages or standard uniforms. Why would anybody save samples? A time that folks would rather not remember.
All this to say that I got to thinking about transitions in general. Much like the fashion displayed, transitions are times of struggle in between something lost and something gained. Some wisdom teachers would say we are always in transition, from one moment to the next…who knows?
But when will the war end? Nobody knows. The transition can feel endless and hopeless…is this all there is? And you’re going to wear what? Just kidding.
As most of our mentors would say, we don’t have the answer, but we can share our experience. So if you find yourself in a transition, here’s some food for thought:
Take Time To Grieve
Just as if you were mourning a death, consider saying goodbye to what you want to leave behind (or what has left you behind). No matter how small. It’s important to acknowledge this pain or else, in my experience, it festers and has a way of bursting through our consciousness in other times. Grief takes time to heal, sometimes a long time.
“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”-Rumi
Be Nice To Yourself
In other words, give yourself time to adjust to a new situation. There is the pressure of a new job, then there is thinking about the pressure of a new job. Counteract the negative with some positive. My favorites include ice cream, chocolate, and meditation.
[ICYMI: 3 Meditations Under 3 Minutes]
Live In The Now
I used to travel a lot as a management consultant and my time-tested trick for fighting jetlag was living in the new time zone as soon as possible. The sooner you move into the new rhythms of waking, eating, and sleeping, the sooner you feel acclimated and productive.
You are the same person, just in a different time zone. The same applies to new situations, whatever it is. Focus on what’s in front of you rather than reminiscing on how things used to be.
“Most people are prisoners, thinking only about the future or living in the past. They are not in the present, and the present is where everything begins.”-Carlos Santana