Everyone of us at one time or another has had a moment in our careers (or our lives for that matter) when we have asked ourselves the uncomfortable question, “How much longer can I continue to do what I am doing?” It is an uncomfortable question as it begins the process of moving out of our current comfort zone to a place in our lives that appears to be of great uncertainty.
Change of any kind or at any level can be a daunting process, but a necessary one for personal and professional growth and development. Although it is often times easier to just “stay put,” it is far more rewarding to move forward. Dr. William Bridges, author of Managing Change and Transition, outlines the change process by illustrating the three phases of change as well as what to expect from these phases and what is needed to successfully move through them:
Phase 1: The first phase of change is what Bridges’ calls “ending.” This is basically the recognition that the time has come for us to move on. It is the process of letting go of old patterns and habits before embracing the future.
Phase 2: The second phase of the process is that “transition zone.” People report a feeling of being disconnected from the past, yet emotionally not connected to the present. This phase can offer a great opportunity for creativity if anxiety and fears are readily managed.
Phase 3: And lastly, the “new beginning” phase is one of action as we have finally let go of old patterns and have made a commitment to the life style or change that will accommodate new opportunities.
One of the things we forget to consider when mentoring or coaching someone is the human tendency to resist change. For example, when a person enters into a mentoring relationship they have made a decision to make potential changes and ultimate transitions in their life and/or career. Sometimes a mentor will experience this resistance first hand. It is helpful to know in advance what to be prepared for and how to help a peer or colleague move forward or get “unstuck.”
The following are a few simple ways in which to successfully challenge others to embrace change and make that exciting transition:
- Construct a personal “Vision Board.” This is the fun part. Create a list of those goals and objectives that you would really like to see yourself actually accomplishing in the next few years. Then add those dreams you have been harboring for years. By actually putting them on to paper, they have now been established as an actual goal. By formally acknowledging those grand ideas, you are setting into motion where it is you really want to go.
- ‘To Thy Known Self Be True.’ To successfully manage change, we must first know how we, with our different personalities and behaviors, react to change. For example, are you the type of person who embraces change and will you tend to get bored if things stay the same? Do you need time to prepare for change? Do you react positively or negatively to unexpected changes? By analyzing your own strengths and shortcomings, you will find that you are better equipped to embrace change and make smooth transitions.
- Seek New Role Models. You can begin making corrections to your current behaviors and lifestyles by modeling your reactions and patterns to those you most admire and whose positions and lifestyles you hope to someday achieve. Review again your goals and observe those who are currently living out your very goals, dreams and objectives. Their behaviors and choices have obviously gotten them to where they are today.
The key to successful transitioning is constant evolvement of our goals, behaviors and dreams. Our personal and professional journeys are just that – a passage from one opportunity or success to another.
Have a Great Journey!
Doug Dvorak – Author, Speaker, Consultant