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Do You Know the Difference Between a Change and a Transition?

7 years ago, tired of the increasing demands of a toxic work environment, I quit my position as a staff psychiatrist and decided to practice my own way. The change itself was brief and decisive. I had given my organization my date of resignation and on that date, I became a free agent.

This change in my work status initiated a major life transition in the following months.

What's the difference between change and transition?

Change is an external process or event resulting in something becoming different. It happens to you. You might invite or even initiate a change or it might catch you completely off guard.

Leaving my employed position was a change. One day, I was an employee working under a set of someone else’s rules and expectations and the next day I wasn’t. Changes are visible events or alterations in circumstances that you experience and are often easily described by others.

You change your job, your position within an organization, your hairstyle.

A season changes from winter to spring. A flower bud undergoes a transition as its internal mehanisms are triggered to bloom into a flower.

Transitions are longer term, internal processes that occur in response to change. Transitions occur in phases and involve your emotional, cognitive, and behavioral responses to a change that has occurred.

You can experience a smooth transition in which you accept the change, remain flexible and adaptive and grow from the change that has occurred. You can also resist change, leaving you to experience bumpy transitions or remain unaware of the transition as it occurs.

Why should you care about change or transition?

Most of us have had the experience of a change catching us off guard. By the time we stop reeling from the change, life has moved on. Often times we find ourselves in react mode as we try to find balance from the impact of an unexpected change.

Even when we invite or initiate change, we often do so without an understanding of how we can be best prepared for the aftermath. A lot of you might avoid change fearing the discomfort and disruption it causes in your life.

When you understand the process of transition in response to change, you can become more in control of how change manifests in your life. You can learn how you typically undergo life transition and optimize patterns that are adaptive.

You can learn to love and embrace change as it creates space for growth through transition.

Keep your eyes open for my next post as a do a deeper dive into transition and how this shows up in your life.

If you want to explore how you can proactively embrace change in your life, join my masterclass as we use practical strategies to work through a change in your life.


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