“Why can’t things just stay the same?” This weighty question brings to mind a workplace meeting where someone high on the organizational chain saunters into the room and with a no-nonsense poker face announces the latest company paradigm shift. The meeting attendees sit there, trying to choke down an inner primeval scream while praying that the change is simply twenty cents for a pair of dimes.
Perhaps in situations like those, what we’re really asking is, “Why is this happening when I don’t want it to?” Part of the answer is that we can no more control major change events than we can harness the wind. Companies are downsized, relationships end, and tragic loss of life occurs. Although we live in a world of constant change, we still often cringe at the thought of something in our life shifting. The variables of change stretch as wide as the fabric of our existence.
Much of life involves less consequential changes, such as changing dry cleaners or shampoo brands. These are the minor leagues. It’s a different ballgame when a profound change event occurs with its resounding thud, such as the death of a parent or an unwanted divorce. These are not just minor inconveniences. These are significant changes that require focus and the need for a transition, a substantial process for absorbing the transformative event.
Sometimes it’s not even the change itself that is challenging; often, how we respond to serious change is the greater challenge. None of us can predict the future or foresee the incalculable combustion of life’s occurrences. Though change has always been and will always be present in our lives, it can still rock our core. A transition is absolutely mandatory in order to process and manage such change.
Though we can’t make things stay the same, we can embark on a quest of understanding the change and recognizing the need for a transition. We can accept that endings happen, often bringing anxiety and disorientation, and that beginnings cannot be forced; rather, beginnings will occur when the timing of the transition process affords it. Though adjusting to these facets of change and transition may seem daunting, a journey of skillful change and transitional management is well worth the trip.