As mentioned in the previous blog, any major life change can be broken down into three primary phases:
Once the decision has been made, there is the Transition phase, which is probably the most important phase of the process.
It is in the Transition phase that we can recognize that the past is in the past, and can start putting the pieces together for our (and our families') present and future. This allows us to build toward Equilibrium (which we will discuss in the next blog).
Let's take the example of divorce. Let's say you've made the Decision to get divorced. OK… what next?
Conventional wisdom would say that the next thing you do is to hire a lawyer. You would go and fill out some kind of questionnaire about your financial situation and your kids. Etc. Then the lawyer , who will in turn look at laws and rules that apply to your situation, and would then start filing papers in court. Make some recommendations about what a judge would likely rule on various questions, etc. Right? Isn't that what you do? Isn't that how things have to go?
Many people who contact lawyers in response to some particular challenge or experience in their lives start off by asking, “Is this legal?” or “What are the rules/laws about this?”
What if those are the wrong questions.
What if we were able to start with the end in mind, and then with that perspective firmly in mind, begin to reverse engineer a path toward it?
You probably should have a lawyer to do the things necessary to get the divorce legally effectuated in your jurisdiction, but that doesn't mean you start there.
In fact, if you do start with lawyers first (or if you try to just go it on your own without a good plan), there is a good chance that you are going to experience way more conflict and/or pay way more in legal fees than you want to or should. (And, mind you, this is coming from a lawyer.) The Transitions phase can be all about a bitter bloody legal battle, with an afterthought about what comes next (maybe.)
Or it can be all about building what's next, with the legal/ judicial part of it just a minor component. Sort of like a wedding, right? Most of the time there's a huge ceremony and reception with all the preparations that go into them months in advance, and then as sort of an afterthought you sign the marriage license paperwork when somebody sticks a pen in your hand. What if the transitions phase of ending a marriage was more like that (minus the cake, perhaps)?
Proactive Transitioning does take work. It's not just about pie-in-the-sky daydreaming (although there can be a small amount of that as you work toward establishing your Vision). In order to be successful, major components of this Transition phase are:
- Letting go of the hurtful parts of the past
- Celebrating the things you learned from the past
- Creating a Vision (a Polaris) of what comes next
- Reverse engineering the steps to get there
- Establishing networks for support and accountability
- Taking the steps necessary to keep moving toward your Vision
- Pivoting and adjusting as necessary, without regret
- Celebrating your progress along the way
Since you aren't likely to face major life Transitions more than a few times during your lifetime, it can be challenging to know how to do each step, and to actually follow through on them. That is why being a part of a Transitions group with New Leaf or elsewhere can be so powerful in your life. We have groups forming every month. To learn more, click here.