At some point, EVERY journey comes to an end. Every vacation, every Olympics, every job, every life event brings us back to the question of “What’s next?”. It’s a haunting question that scares even the bravest souls even though these transitions offer us incredible opportunities to change directions, refine our focus and explore new options. The following are 3 practical ideas to help people in transition discern the best next steps on life’s journey so you can make your transitions work for you!
1. Look back with paper and pen. Yes, look forward by looking back. It sounds counter intuitive but it’s instructional if done thoughtfully. You’re not looking back for all the sad things that happened or reliving all the bitter things unkind people have done to you. No, look back and see what you enjoyed and ask, “Why did I enjoy that so much?” Even better, after choosing 3-5 stories, ask a friend to grab a cup of coffee and tell your stories. Rehearse the stories about how you faced your fear, overcame adversity, felt wild joy or surged with excitement. Ask them to share what similar themes they heard in each of the stories. You’ll hear clues into the kinds of work, adventure, or engagement that makes you feel alive and valuable. Focus some energy there moving forward.
2. Notice how you’re feeling and move toward activities that bring you joy. For me, I feel joy when I’m serving others. It’s fulfilling to lend a hand and get something accomplished or spend some time with someone and know that my investment there is appreciated (or not). Others love to get things organized. Some really like winning (golf, cards, business deals). When in doubt, move toward something that’s meaningful and adds to your sense of self-worth. Granted sometimes this isn’t easy. It is nearly impossible to move forward when we feel crushed by loss or hopeless because of failure or when exciting dreams become major disappointments. But, recognize it. Name it. Face it. Choose to move it to the side and step once again toward things that brought you joy before – because they will probably do it again!
3. Seek to deepen your spiritual awareness of God. Something happens to us as we open ourselves to God’s direction in our lives. It’s amazing what opportunities can surface and how impossible challenges almost ‘magically’ resolve themselves when we humble ourselves and ask for help. Transitions are special times when the unknow humbles us and we become more open to new ideas. Who better to help us than God? Some people feel like there’s one perfect plan but from what I see there’s a lot of room for us to contribute to the outcome. In the Bible, the lives of people included lots of ups and downs just like we do when we’re in transition. You’re not alone on your journey. If God can arrange things so that Jesus comes at just the right time, perhaps he can help you figure out what to do when you retire, or how to recover after that nasty divorce or even which job to take next. Deepen your awareness of God and ask for help.
Transitions are more of an art than a science. My current transition feels more like a train wreck at the moment as I wait for opportunities to surface. Just today I told a hiring person that I was searching for my next role and her voice reinforced the “PERMANENT PART TIME” role. She wasn’t being unkind, she was hiring for a role that I wouldn’t be able to fill because my transition it taking me to a different place – although not a different location. I’m making my transition work for me by exploring new temporary work options with the Board of Elections and trying my hand as a Substitute teacher. (we’ll see how that goes).
What about you? Are you at a place where one activity of your life is coming to an end? Don’t be afraid. Be brave. This is a marvelous opportunity for you to discover and grow and explore. Make it work for you!