Alexander Martinez coaching solutions

Managing changes and transitions

One of the most recurring topics that arise in coaching is the management of changes and transitions. Surely, we all know Heraclitus idea that the only constant in life is change, and of course, it is very true. The point is that even if we agree to this, it does not mean we have accepted it; therefore, we do not have to go through a period of acceptance.

Depending on the type of DISC style we have (if you need to learn what DISC is, you can read one of the many articles on this website), changes and transitions can affect us more or less. A person with a Dominance or Influence style can better assimilate a change or transition and even enjoy it because he or she feels it adds a spark to life. On the other hand, people with Steady or Compliant personalities will suffer a lot and will surely fight before breaking their routine or previous situation.

In this article, I will not refer to the change of a habit, also called internal change (another recurring topic in coaching), but to the changes in our environment, also called external changes. Changes generate resistance because they can make us feel vulnerable. They can bring to many light things we are unaware of or force us to face fears or challenges that we have not had to live up to now.

I will speak from my point of view as a person with a Compliant personality. I like to have control over what I do, perfect a routine to feel as efficient as possible and go to sleep feeling like I’m accomplishing certain things each day. When a change occurs, the first thing I feel is annoyance or discomfort for not following an already established guideline, a rejection of the situation (followed by criticism) that is not even justified because it probably has a positive effect in the long run. The way in which I can get rid of this feeling is by reframing what is happening and seeking to focus on the ultimate goal. I need to feel that I am in control of the situation again, even though something has changed.

Naturally, my goal is to become able to control this process or handle it differently. Therefore, I work hard to accept the situation as soon as possible and thus reduce the discomfort that I mentioned in the previous paragraph. John Kotter, an expert on the subject, stresses the need to establish a sense of urgency so that the shortcomings of the previous situation can be seen and the need for change accepted.

Changes vs transitions

It is necessary to differentiate between a change and a transition. A change is something that happens suddenly and whose effect is immediate. It forces you to make decisions or positions quickly to adapt. A transition, on the other hand, is a process that can be pretty long and can even mark your life. An average person goes through many changes in their life, but only a limited number of transitions.

According to William Bridges, a transition consists of three stages: the end, a transition (neutral) zone, and a new beginning. The first stage (the end) will always be the most challenging because it is mourning. You need to let go of the past to start a new future. You have to identify what you liked best about the previous situation, determine what is necessary to close the stage and even see ways to set a time limit to overcome it. However, there should be no rush. The important thing is to be ready.

Once we feel ready, we can move on to the transition stage, in which we will begin to see the previous situation with different eyes. We can analyse what we did or felt before, detach ourselves, stop identifying with it, and finally even begin to see the existing shortcomings and thus lose the motivation to continue that path.

We can move on to a new beginning after going through all this and accepting the situation. We will begin to see the positive things in the new situation and once again feel motivated or inspired.

Some final thoughts

As you can imagine, some people can go through this jungle of emotions more quickly than others, and depending on the type of transition (work, sentimental, family, etc.), the end and transition stages will be more extended.

We must look for tools that help us; coaching is undoubtedly a way to facilitate a transition process. Several frameworks can help us visualize our situation and move towards a new stage.

If you are interested in coaching to manage changes and transitions, do not hesitate to email me via the website or schedule a meeting.

Alexander Martinez

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