I do a lot of work with people in work transitions. Some of these transitions have been accelerated by force of circumstances whilst others lead me to conversations with people just taking a moment out of their lives to take stock. But before I go any further with this I just need to say a word about what I mean by “transition.” William Bridges, in a variety of his published works, makes the distinction between a transition and a change. The latter can be be purely physical and external – I move from Cambridge to Leeds – whereas the latter is psychological and internal. Whilst I still hanker for flat countryside and punts and insist with speaking with long vowels I may have changed but perhaps still have some transitioning to do. (Just to say on that, I moved to Leeds twenty odd years ago and my transition is complete).
A transition brings us to a place where we live by different motivations and aspirations, and have different success criteria for what’s important to us. It leaves in the past some aspects of life that may be good to remember and learn from but are no longer the main drivers of our focus and direction.
Early signs of transition – the five “disses”
Early signs of an emerging transition can be characterized by various aspects of “dissing.” William Bridges mentions five. In the context of your work, see if you can relate to any of these.
You may have a sense of disengagement, the feeling that you don’t really belong any more. You may find that the values of the organisation have changed, or that the job has lost a degree of its challenge. Maybe you are outgrowing it. You may notice a degree of dismantling – your normal way of working and acting isn’t having the same impact it once did. Or is there a growing sense of dis-identification. People ask you what you do and, when you reply, you have the feeling inside that the person you are describing is not really “you” anymore.
You could be experiencing disenchantment as when your hopes and aspirations for your job or career don’t look like they are ever going to materialise. You’ve hit the “nevers” (I’ll never be CEO, never be a partner, never introduce the new initiative I so believe in). Or is it just a growing feeling of disorientation – you thought you knew how your organisation worked and your place within it, but when you get to work you start to feel lost.
Coaching in action
Well the good news is that this could be the beginning of an exciting new phase of your life. These “disses” can be healthy signs that one life phase is coming to a natural end and that it’s time to see how else your potential could be realised either by re-shaping where you work now, or finding pastures new. How many of these five “disses” apply to you now? Write them out on a sheet of paper and rate them on a low to high scale of 1-7. This will start to give you and indication of how far you are into your journey of transition.
The next step is to consider the factors that contribute to a successful transition. Have a look at this post to find out more.