Our lives transition at regular intervals. In the same way rearranging the furniture transforms the room, learning to embrace change and transitions can usher in beautiful transformation. Birthdays, New Year’s Day, the first day of school, earning a driver’s license are moments we celebrate transitions — transitions that are bringing much needed transformation.
When my sons each turned 13, we wanted to mark it as a significant turning point — a moment to signal growth, independence, new responsibility. We invited the men in their lives to bring an item from their work, something they used daily, and attach to it a very specific life lesson. A community leader brought a book with the message “leaders are readers.” A wealthy business man brought a deck of playing cards and suggested that in the middle of accomplishment, it’s good to “remember to play.” These birthday parties were powerful moments of intentionally celebrating transition as exciting and a special opportunity for transformation— a place to embrace growth and grab hold of all “transition” could offer.
Transitions consist of three acts. These acts are not particularly profound — the beginning, middle and end. What throws us for a loop is the order in which these acts come: first, the Grand Finale; second, the Intermission; and lastly, the Opening Act. For more information on these three acts and tools to help maneuver through them, download the eBook Transformation: Finding Meaning in Change.
All transitions must begin with a conclusion. Most of us want to start with the new beginning, but we have to start with an end, the Grand Finale. There is no forward movement when we’re still tied to what was. Letting go is part of the transformation. Even exciting, planned for change, involves letting go. Letting go of what used to be is the best way to start something new.
Upon arrival at the Intermission of any live performance, the action stops. Music ceases to come from the orchestra pit, the audience takes a moment to care for the necessities and only the necessities. The Intermission phase of transition is the same; it allows us to stop, take a breath, and care for essentials only. Transitions put us smack dab in the middle of uncertainty; experiencing a feeling of limbo because the old way is gone, and the new way is not fully formed. In order to make adjustments well, we need time to rest, contemplate, and sort through things. This gives space for transformation.
After all of this, we’re just now getting to the final act — the Opening Act, a place to take off. New growth, new skills, and new routines begin. A new identity starts to form. New direction comes.
Whatever the transition may give or take away, it’s designed to lead us to a better place. Transition is defined as the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another. Much like a caterpillar changes to a butterfly, each of our transitions can bring lasting transformation.