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How to Survive a Transition

Updated: Dec 10, 2020

There are times in our lives where a major transition is forced upon us. We didn’t ask for it. We didn’t want it but nevertheless, we are in it. Now what?

This type of forced transition that many have to deal with could include major things like a death of a loved one or a reversal of health in you or someone you care for. These are long-term and long lasting transitions. It could be a lesser but still life changing transition like having to move to a new location, start a new job or losing a job, and all that comes with it.

I want you to know that I’m not writing this as some academic exercise. I’m going through a major transition in my life. It’s one of those that is forced upon me. I’ll be honest, I would not be writing about this nor would I have started my coaching business at this time in my life if it were not for this forced transition. My transition is in my career.

For most of my adult life, I’ve served in vocational Christian ministry. What that means is that I’ve been a church planter and pastor for 21 years and also worked at religious non-profits for another 14 years. My last assignment was with Oklahoma Baptists leading their church planting efforts. Then we entered 2020 and the coronavirus shut most everything down. Then, due to financial constraints brought on by the shutdown, Oklahoma Baptists decided to release me and several others from our positions.

Now, this had a profound impact on me. Losing a job is impactful for anyone. But in my long career, I’d never experience being let go. It was a shock to my system. It took me a week to process what happened, then I got a migraine and became sick and could not stop coughing. I believe it was the emotional and mental stress my body was experiencing.

Then the questions come. What do I do now? What am I supposed to do? What does this mean? Why was I let go? Is it my fault? What is God telling me? What can I do next? What can I do right now? Why do I feel so bad? Why am I angry? What am I supposed to do about it? What future do I have? These are the questions that come flooding in.

Your transition may be like mine or it may be harder. Believe me, I know that my transition struggles pale in comparison to those who have to deal with health or relationship transitions.

So the big question is, how to survive a transition? I have a few thoughts.

First, take a breath and realize that this is a transition. Transitions are something that you move through. You don’t stay in it forever. There is a beginning, a middle and an end. This is the beginning. You will get through it. It may be short or long, that depends on you and on the situation, but it will end and this will change and life will go on. Whether you realize it or not, you have been through transitions in the past. Being a student in primary and secondary school is ripe with transitions. Some you like, some you don’t and some it doesn’t matter if you like it or not you are going to move through it. That is something everyone deals with. This is another one of many transitions in your life, but what is different is that this is new.

Second, find a partner who can be a sounding board, a confidant. This is someone you may talk to and share your thoughts and feelings, no matter how irrational you may think they are. They will help you process the transition with no judgment. You may consider hiring a professional coach that understands the dynamics of transition. A coach is not a counselor. A coach will help draw out what is in the inner part of you and help guide you in the next steps. A coach helps you to process the present in order to focus on the future.

Third, realize the transition will get harder before it gets easier. The most difficult part of the transition is the period in the middle. I call it the period of confusion and distress. This is where you deal with all the thoughts and emotions, evaluating them and processing them. You go over options and “what ifs”. Be prepared to be surprised by yourself and some of your reactions during this period. It is one where struggle and acceptance takes place.

Fourth, The transition will end and you will be stronger, sharper and wiser. Transitions are God’s way of taking us where we are to where we need to be. He did it with Abraham, Joseph in Egypt, King David and others. He still does it today. No matter what the reason for your transition, God will turn it ultimately for your good and His glory. You are not overlooked. Your life has a plan and purpose. In order to get you there, transitions must happen. I’m not saying the pain is good. What I am saying is the pain will be worth it. What comes from it will be like gold refined by fire.

Last, I encourage you to download my free ebook: Navigating Transitions. Just click on the image below and give your email. Work through this ebook. It is short, only 6 pages. Also, contact me. As always, the introductory session is free. No strings attached. Let me know what’s on your mind. What you do next is totally up to you.

Click on "Navigating Transitions" image to download free eBook

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