Tips for managing personal transitions successfully

December 13, 2015

We all experience change in our lives. The old and true paradox that nothing is constant except change affects us all, so learning to flow with the transitions rather than resist them or make them worse makes all the difference.


Are you ending a relationship? Did you just find out you will be a parent? Is a good friend or close family member moving far away, or are you? Are you switching jobs, or careers? Are you vowing to make a lifestyle change? Are you moving or renovating your place? Are you switching to bus commuting from driving to work? All these things, big or small, are transitions from something familiar to something unknown. Some go faster and smoother than others, some are long and difficult, but all can be made easier on you and the people around you.


Relationships often get very strained during a change of any kind. People get tired, snap at each other, have too much on their minds and forget things, so blaming and a tense atmosphere often lead to fights and things slipping from your mouth you regret. It doesn't have to be that way. Remembering that you're in it together (well, except for a divorce, but even then, if there are kids involved, you have to negotiate the new landscape together, as the relationship isn't ending, it's just changing, but that's another post), and you have a common goal: Getting through the transition smoothly and on to the new chapter in your lives successfully.

  1. Stay as organized as possible: I know this is a huge challenge for some, but it will make all the difference to always put your keys in the same place (really); stick to your schedule as much as possible; if you're moving use simple things like masking tape and a marker to label things so everyone can find things quickly; and, decide on a system for doing things, dividing responsibilities evenly or by skill, so everyone knows what's going on at all times. If you're changing jobs, keep basic lists of what is needed to wrap up the old job, and prepare for the new one, so you don't feel as overwhelmed, and can happily check off the milestones of closure and the new beginning. 

  2. Keep communication lines open: If you are frustrated, don't bottle it up and let it come out in a bad burst of frustration on someone. Talk about issues as they come up, using ownership language (don't blame, take responsibility for your feelings and actions, etc. "I am feeling..." "I am not understanding how this happened...") Speaking in neutral language, and avoiding aggressive language helps keep tension down. Ask questions, again without blame or passive-aggressiveness, and don't make assumptions. Be kindly direct with others (emphasis on being kind.) Again, you want the best for the situation, so don't make others into adversaries, and focus on the common goal.

  3. Take care of the bod:  Enough cannot be said about the positive effects of sleeping well and enough, eating healthy food, drinking lots of water, avoiding extremes like a lot of caffeine, a lot of sugar, a lot of alcohol. Maintain exercise routines if you have them. If you don't, while you may think you don't have time, go for a 10-30 minute walk every day: It clears your head, it oxygenates the bloods, it gives you the needed mental and physical break your whole self needs - and it allows you to plan the next things coming up. Take time to stretch, if even for a minute.  Stop, close your eyes, and take three deep breaths, especially if you feel overwhelmed or anxious.  Take a stillness break.  These methods of self-care are the rejuvenation you need each day to recharge and increase your energy for the tasks ahead.

  4. When things go wrong, don't panic:  Right now, say to yourself, "I know things will go wrong, but it will be okay and it will all work out." The law of averages says that something unplanned will happen no matter how well you plan. There are many things in life we can't control, so maintain flexibility; don't catastrophize; have a couple plans in mind - if you're moving, have a plan for bad weather just in case, for example; build an extra day or week into your planning; don't be rigid in the need for things to go perfectly; know that if things get delayed there could be a silver lining you can't see yet; maintain a positive attitude. Breathe deep, take a break, be easy on yourself and others. Don't rant and rave and blame and raise your anxiety and that of those around you. It's especially not helpful to get angry at any service people involved. Work with them to get what you need. You're more likely to get help with sweetness rather than venom. Change plans as needed. Get further assistance. The calmer you remain, the easier it will go.

  5. Review the process and look at the transition from a bird's eye view: Be sure to stop regularly and take stock of how you're feeling about the whole transition, and check in with those involved to find out their perspectives. A cup of tea helps tremendously with this. Stopping to evaluate progress, make needed adjustments in thinking or logistics, and let yourself and the other(s) express themselves is very helpful, nurturing, and wise. Or simply stopping to rest and do nothing is also highly recommended and totally underrated. Just do it.

Lastly, be as open and positive about the transition as possible:  I am well aware there are plenty of unhappy transitions out there having had them myself, but again, change is the normal state of being for us all, and embracing change makes all the difference. There's a line in an old Sting song I often quote that is very true: "From the wound a lovely flower grew." We all have scars, we all have difficult things happen to us and those we love. But these things make us who we are, wonderful unexpected things often come out of bad situations, and we have the opportunity for these things to make us stronger and better, not weaker and bitter, if we so choose: The quality and happiness of our life is always up to us, and with our beautiful minds and hearts, we can always make - and successfully make it through - changes, big or small.




I help people access their courage and do the work of making personal changes by creating safe space and providing compassionate, practical support.  I'm a certified life coach with a M.A. in Counseling.  If you'd like information on how to make changes and realize dreams, please click here.




Find me at, and on Facebook, Lauren Oujiri Coaching.


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