5 Ways to Make Transitions Work for You
When 90 percent of the conversations in your life happen to revolve around one topic, you know its time to investigate that thing. For me recently, there has been an emphasis on liminality, being both here and there, the “the transition period”. Being a person who has always inhabit a liminality space, you’d think I’d be great at transitions, moving from A to B and investigating all the places in between with ease. When I was younger, I could only recognize transitions retrospectively. Reflectively I understood why I felt so unsettled. That’s why my mind was so turbulent. That’s why I was clinging to any sense of stability that I could find.
Since I’ve moved to New York, I’ve never felt completely settled. Perhaps that’s the hectic nature of the city. Perhaps that’s it’s transient population, people are always coming and going. Perhaps it’s the way I’ve built my life where everyday is a different place, with different people, and different experiences. Whatever the case, the world I’ve created for myself is deeply rooted in transition. Transitions carry with them a certain quality that I identify with more alacrity than I did as a young person (that feeling that anything could happen (yay) but also, (holy poop) anything could happen). Particularly in transitions, because much more uncertainty exists, my thought explosions* are frequent and lengthy. Thought explosions are riddled with anxiety and holding breath. It’s my mind’s way to roll out all potential outcomes to reduce uncertainty.
In the words of my good friend Emily, “Great. You know you’re in a transition. So, what are you going to do with that knowledge?” What I love the most about this is that it puts the power back into my hands. In the midst of the liminality, it can feel like I have no power because I’m not here or there; I don’t belong anywhere. Everything is in flux so it’s hard to commit to more than matcha at 4pm tomorrow. With knowledge comes power. Now that I know, what am I going TO DO? I can hear my acting teacher at this very moment asking that question. “But what does it mean for you TO DO?” Like plays, life is created through action, and yes choosing inaction is an action. When unrest settles in, I acknowledge that I’m in a transitional space, and start making choices. I give the in between space direction by exploring what my life passion is, specifically writing down actions that help cultivate and explore this passion, and setting due dates.
The in between space is rich with learning opportunities. Like most moments of growth, it gets uncomfortable. Humans are creatures of habit. Our hearts remember the things we do habitual. Growing out of habit can feel like an attack on the status quo because, honestly, it is. Instead of succumbing to those feelings of anxiety and doubt, what is it that you want to learn about yourself? Use this time to dig deeper. When you start to feel unrest sink in underneath your heart space, consider: What are you passionate about?
Get as artsy as you want with answering the following questions. I, having never excelled at visual art, don’t enjoy the idea of vision boards or collages, but if answering these questions in a visual way helps you, then do it!
- What is the imprint you want to leave on the world? I’m not talking so much about resume items but rather, do you want the world to be a more compassionate place because of your input? Do you want the world to be more conscious about consuming and taking care of the environment? This is the imprint.
- What activities and actions make you come alive? Look back at the last two-three months and make a list of the times when you felt most alive. You know how some activities make you feel tired and empty and others make you feel like you could conquer the world? We want the ladder.
- Look at that list of activities and actions you just made. Can you come up with a few micro examples of how those things can show up in your day to day life? My example: traveling and experiencing new people/cultures/places makes me feel alive. My life is not one where I can drop everything and globe trot. What I can do is take a walk around a different part of the city, work out of a different coffee shop, explore a borough I rarely visit. For me, it’s the action of coming back that allows me to see things with fresh eyes.
- Now it’s time to think big. Look at the list of things that make you one alive. Can you plan one or two big moment that feel vibrant? My example: I love teaching yoga and I love traveling. I’ve not traveled many places in this country. I’m pitching to different events across the country different yoga activations that line up with their brands vision.
- Let’s make some due dates. Part of being in transition feels like swimming in a sea of uncertainty. So, make some things certain. That book you’ve wanted to read for 6 months? Write down in your calendar when you’ll finish it. The language you’ve wanted to learn? Sign up for a course or practice on Duolingo. Create a dedicated daily time to learn and write it down in your calendar. This goes for anything you really want to do but can’t quite seem to ever fully accomplish. The article you want to write, the hat you want to knit, the garden you want to plant, the grad schools you want to apply to, the blog you want to start, you name it, give yourself a due date. Hold yourself accountable.
Brittany sang it best, “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman”. Except I am a woman who happens to be in the midst of a large transition. Instead of letting the amorphous nature of transition consume all my light, I’ve decide to use the space and time to my advantage. How do I want to build my life? Am I contributing daily to the thing that is my passion (the imprint I want to leave on the world)? If I’m not, I know that my energy is lower, my headspace is less clear, and my heart doesn’t shine as a brightly. Cut the bullshit. Stop making excuses for why you can’t and start choosing action. I believe in you.
*For those of you wondering what a thought explosion is, it goes something like this: who knows when that new venture is going to start and which means I’m basically on hold for my whole life. So I can’t give that director an answer yet on the project he asked me to participate in but he needs an answer, like, yesterday. But if I say yes to that and then this other project comes to fruition, I’ll have a bagillion conflicts which is incredibly unprofessional and the I will have literally six hours to sleep which means I show up as not my best self. All of those thoughts but happening almost instantaneously is a thought explosion.