With the right strategies, you can begin embracing change and build the life you’ve always dreamed of.
Not in his goals but in his transitions man is great.Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you were to bake a cake, what’s the first thing that you picture? Perhaps you imagine the cake itself, a yummy tower of chocolate with rich buttercream icing on top.
When setting out to accomplish something, like baking a cake, we often think in terms of the outcome. Instead of savoring the experience of preparing the cake, we create expectations of the end product, missing out on enjoying the process.
We often look at our goals in life in the same way. Whether we want to make a big change, or a change happens to us, we visualize the outcome. We set expectations.
But this way of thinking can make it difficult to navigate through change. After all, making a big change in life doesn’t happen overnight. The road to achievement comes with all sorts of twists, turns, and dead ends.
People often become so obsessed with the expectations, they feel disappointed or are quick to give up when things don’t go perfectly. And let’s face it — life never goes as planned.
While it’s certainly helpful to set goals, fixating too much on the end result means missing out on opportunities for personal development, growth, and even having a little fun along the way.
That’s why embracing change is so important. Although you can’t predict the future, you can learn to navigate transitions, how to prioritize your life more effectively, and to become more resilient along the way.
How to manage change: The Transition Model
Although it’s impossible to predict the future, understanding what to expect, you’ll have a better idea of how to manage the uncertainties that come along with change.
The William Bridges’ Transition Model provides a roadmap through the emotional landscape of change. The model identifies three phases: Ending What Currently Is, The Transition Zone, and The New Beginning.
Ending What Currently Is
The beginning of change is also the end of something. Whether a relationship changes or a job ends, we often find ourselves at a moment when a phase of life comes to an end. It feels a lot like the ending of a chapter in a book.
Change isn’t easy. When something shifts, a lot of different emotions can come up. It can feel confusing, stressful, or just plain scary. You can experience sadness, or a bit of numbness. You may even feel excitement for the new beginning that you’re moving toward.
The Transition Zone
As you move from the ending, you find yourself in a transition period, or the neutral zone. You haven’t quite ended the ending. You haven’t quite started the beginning. In between a period of change, it takes time for the transition to occur.
During the transition zone, you can feel a lot of mixed emotions. It can feel confusing, frightening, and overwhelming. You may feel self-doubt, unbalanced, lost, or numb.
But guess what? That’s completely normal.
Uncertainty is a natural part of any adjustment period. When you realize that, you can accept some of the uncomfortable feelings that arise during the transition process, knowing that with resilience and patience, you’ll come out on the other side, stronger than before.
A New Beginning
Finally, you make it through the transition period. You embark on a new beginning.
Yes, you may feel some of the twinges from the ending. You might notice some of the numbness from the transition zone. But at this point, you’ll start to get your footing. As you progress, this new chapter in your life will feel more comfortable.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully made it through the difficult transition period. The change is complete.
6 Ways to Embrace Change
Navigating transitions isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s downright scary! But just like anything in life, even the difficult times will pass.
Having the right perspective, embracing change becomes easier. In fact, I know of 6 strategies that will help you navigate the uncertainty of transitions, and even embrace the full spectrum of challenges in the neutral zone.
1. Take risks
Remember that even though change isn’t easy, life is too short to stay stuck in your comfort zone. When you have a big dream in mind, you have to stick your neck out there if you want to build the life you’ve always wanted.
So have a little courage, and be patient with yourself. Although scary at first, small steps, over time, can lead to huge changes.
In other words, be willing to step out of familiar routines and step into something new. Even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll grow and build confidence as you tackle new challenges along the way.
2. Have a coach or mentor
Embracing change isn’t easy, but you don’t have to go through it alone.
A coach or mentor on your team can guide you and keep things in perspective. You may get stuck in your head sometimes and need a sounding board to express challenges and bounce ideas.
They can help you recognize the limited thought patterns that can prevent you from reaching your new beginning. You’ll have a cheerleader on the sidelines, helping you stay motivated even when things don’t go your way.
There are plenty of accessible ways to get support and encouragement, even if you don’t have the bandwidth to invest in personal coaching or find a formal mentor. You can join a mastermind group, find a supportive online community, or take a course, like our Reinvention Rx.
3. Keep creating
Creative activities make you happier, healthier, and smarter. Make time to express yourself through drawing, gardening, fencing, or whatever you enjoy. Exercising your creativity enables you to release the uncomfortable emotions experienced during change in a healthy way.
It’ll keep your mind sharp, too. The internal pathways will stay fluid by continually having your creative juices flowing.
This will give you fuel for finding innovative approaches through new, unfamiliar waters. You may even discover new passions along the way.
4. Keep learning
Growth often comes with its fair share of discomfort. They don’t call them growing pains for nothing.
Even when things get tough, approach change as a learning opportunity. Allow yourself to discover. Challenge your assumptions.
Embracing change requires that you keep an open mind.
Stay in the mode of taking in all that new information. If you hold on too much to what you know, you’ll stay stuck. When willing to discover as you grow and experiment, eventually you will find the right path.
5. Don’t give up – persist!
When we set goals for ourselves, we tend to have a lot more motivation in the beginning. But change isn’t linear. You may experience failures and missteps that make it difficult to stay driven throughout the transition process.
Plus, our most precious pursuits don’t happen overnight. It takes hard work and persistence to make those big dreams a reality. When results don’t happen as quickly as you would like, or when nothing goes right, don’t give up!
You can’t rush the transition period. Remember, it’s normal to feel frustrated, to doubt yourself, and to face resistance in the neutral zone.
Be patient with yourself. Keep trying, keep moving, keep going. You’ll reach your goals eventually.
6. Pay attention to your thoughts
Have you ever noticed that when you find a car you really, really like, that you start to see that exact make and model all over the place?
It’s on the freeway. You see it passing by when you’re at a stoplight. You don’t realize how many there are on the road until you decide you like it.
That’s your RAS, or Reticular Affirmation System. It’s working all the time, even without you realizing it. Its main job is to mediate behavior. It notices things for you that you are interested in.
So what does your RAS have to do with embracing change?
The reason I study neuroscience, and use it in my practice, is because it gives my clients an edge. Like a biohack, you can use neuroscience to empower yourself and embrace change. It will help you get to the next level more effectively, efficiently, and scientifically.
It takes time to make a change. If we’re going to do it successfully, we have to do less of old patterns and more of the habits we’re trying to work toward. That all begins with our thoughts.
As we shift our neurochemistry and thought patterns, then we can begin to shift our behaviors.
Let’s say, for example, you notice that self-criticism is holding you back from taking steps towards your new beginning. To change this, you have to first notice when it’s happening.
In this video, I walk you through a great exercise to support the vital changes you want to make, by activating your RAS.
Carry around a notebook, or use a note-taking app on your phone. Every time you notice you being critical of yourself, jot it down. Continue with this for three to seven days.
You will raise your awareness about how critical you are, what situations trigger self-criticism, and some of the common thoughts you have when judging yourself.
Then the following week, each time you take a note of yourself being critical, write a love note to yourself. Make a positive affirmation. Reframe and redirect those thoughts into something positive and useful. Shift the pattern.
Don’t let the change break you. Let it make you.
Making big changes isn’t easy. But learning to navigate the process is something anyone can do with time, patience, and support. Embracing change is an important life skill that can bring growth and help you build a life of purpose and fulfillment.
It can even help you figure out how to reinvent yourself completely.
But you don’t have to do it alone. If you need some guidance along the way, I’d be honored to help.
Our Reinvention Rx program is a great place to start.